Juha Janhunen
Humanist of the day

Juha Janhunen

Juha Janhunen originally studied Uralic and Altaic languages as well as Japanese, later also geology and geophysics. He began his university career in 1973 as a research assistant in Finno-Ugrian studies at the University of Helsinki, and he completed his PhD on Samoyedic languages in 1986. He has held the post of Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures since 1994, and is currently responsible for the Asian Studies degree programme at the Department of World Cultures. During his student days, he already spent extended periods of time in Hungary and Japan, and he has later worked as a visiting professor in several Japanese universities and research institutes.

Juha Janhunen

Juha Antero Janhunen
Born February 12, 1952, Pori

Master of Arts 1976, PhD 1986 (Finno-Ugrian studies), University of Helsinki

Docent in North Asian Studies 1986–94, University of Helsinki
Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures 1994–, University of Helsinki
Honorary professor at the Inner Mongolia University 1998–
Docent in ethnohistory 2011–, Åbo Akademi University

Research themes:
Comparative linguistics, ethnohistory, field linguistics, endangered languages and their revival

Research projects and working groups:
HALS (Helsinki Area and Language Studies)
Manuscripta Castreaniana (M. A. Castrén’s manuscripts)
Corpus Scriptorum Chitanorum (Khitan language and writing)
UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
ElCat (Endangered Languages Catalogue)
Revitalisation of the Nivkh language on the Amur and on Sakhalin

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Professor E.J. Nyström prize (Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters)
Tuhat Award for high-level publications and exemplary use of the system (University of Helsinki) 2015

Membership of scholarly societies:
Royal Asiatic Society 1986
Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters 2003
Academia Europaea 2008
Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia) 2013
International Eurasian Academy of Sciences 2015

Photo: Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Written by Juha Janhunen (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Ethnolinguistics, i.e. the study of languages in relation to their ethnic, regional and historical contexts, plays a central role in my research. Ethnolinguistics concentrates particularly on the study of little-known forms of language in the field among their speakers.

Mongolia 2010. Taken on Mount Bogdo Ula, in the background Ulan
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The choice of which language to publish in is always challenging. Although I have been forced by circumstance to publish rather much in English, I feel that many political and cultural problems are linked to the use of English as a language of science, and it increases inequality within the…

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A researcher of endangered languages is faced with the difficult choice of whether to objectively observe the life and death of languages or to subjectively intervene. Biologists have long spoken in favour of biodiversity, and it would be strange if linguists didn’t take up the issue of the future of…

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