Irma Hyvärinen
Humanist of the day

Irma Hyvärinen

Irma Hyvärinen, former professor of Germanic philology at the University of Helsinki, enjoys conducting the kind of research free from tight timetable constraints that her contract as emeritus professor allows. The teaching duties she most enjoyed were supervising theses and dissertations, and indeed many students finished their treatises with her help. A project for her retirement years is to research German complex compound structures.

Irma Hyvärinen

Irma Kaarina Hyvärinen
Born August 8, 1949, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts 1971, Master of Arts 1973, licentiate 1982 and PhD (German philology), University of Oulu

Professor of Germanic philology 1999–2014, University of Helsinki

Director of the Department of German 1999–2006 and 2007–09, University of Helsinki
Assistant professor/ professor of Germanic philology 1998–99, University of Turku
Visiting professor of Germanic linguistics 1996 (summer semester), University of Augsburg, Germany
Assistant professor/ acting professor of Germanic philology 1992–98, University of Jyväskylä
Assistant professor of German, 1991–92, Savonlinna School of Translation Studies, University of Joensuu
Acting assistant professor of German 1990–91, Helsinki School of Economics
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation scholarship researcher 1989–90, University of Passau, Germany
Acting assistant professor of Germanic philology 1985–86, University of Helsinki
Teaching assistant in Germanic philology 1983–89, University of Helsinki
Research assistant 1979–84, Academy of Finland Research Council for the Humanities
Professor of Germanic philology (25 %) 1977–79, University of Oulu
Part-time German teacher 1977–79, Summer University of Northern Ostrobothnia, Oulu
Part-time teacher of Germanic philology 1972–79 and acting teaching assistant 1974–75, University of Oulu

Publications, research projects and other academic activity
Most important research areas: pragmatic phraseology, contrastive syntax, word formation, language learning and teaching, translating lyrics

The Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Prize 2007, from the German Academic Exchange Service
Award of recognition for master’s thesis supervision, Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by Irma Hyvärinen (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

My doctoral dissertation was a contrastive valence theory study of German and Finnish infinitives. For my material I was able to use postcard sized printed notes of German sentences containing infinitives from the corpus of the IDS ­– Institute of German Language in Mannerheim and piles of computer printouts with examples of Finnish infinitives from the Oulu corpus. The corpus linguistics of today is light years ahead.

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At the beginning of the autumn semester of 1999, I was named professor of Germanic philology (particularly of modern German) at the University of Helsinki, and at the same time I became director of the department of German.

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My dream is for German—and other languages less studied in school—not to be thrown completely out of the window in the Finnish education system. We should systematically take care of our language resources.

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