Juhani Härmä
Humanist of the day

Juhani Härmä

Juhani Härmä, Professor of Romance Philology, hopes for a greater appreciation of the French language in modern society. He has found an abundance of as yet unresearched French language material that gives new perspectives on the significance of the French language in Finland.

Juhani Härmä

Born May 21, 1949, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1974 (Romance philology), Licentiate of Philosophy 1977 (Romance philology) and Doctor of Philosophy (Romance philology) 1979, University of Helsinki

Professor of Romance Philology (1998-), University of Helsinki

Research Council for the Humanities, 1977–1980 (Research Assistant) and 1980–1983 (Junior Researcher)
Professor of Romance Philology 1983–1985 and Docent of Romance Philology 1980-, University of Jyväskylä
Associate Professor of Romance Philology of the University of Helsinki 1985–1998
Visiting professor of Finnish language and culture in the University III of Paris 1991–1994

Publications, research projects and other academic activity
Research themes: syntax of old and modern French, contrastive French-Finnish linguistics, textual research; recent interest in the historical use of French in Finland, especially in Finnish correspondence in French.

Written by Juhani Härmä and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by Karra Väisänen, Sampsa Granström,Tuuli Äärilä and Elina Saala. Revised by John Calton.

In recent years Professor Juhani Härmä has studied a body of material that has proved to be a treasure trove, albeit somewhat difficult to manage due to its abundance. For some time ages there had been discussion as to whether French-language material of Finnish origin could be found in Finland, material which is largely found in countries like Sweden. Härmä very much doubted that such material existed. A few years ago, Emeritus Professor of History Matti Klinge drew Härmä's attention to the French-language letters written by Finns in the collections of the Finnish National Archives.

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My favourite moments in the University of Helsinki are few and far between these days. But every now and then I realise that I am able to devote some time to research, in the middle of a weekday, or even a few days, without feeling guilty or anxious about exams needing to be set or marked, a thesis needing to be read, unanswered e-mails, teaching preparations or such.

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My dream is that French would not merely be considered ‘a small, rare language’ in Finland, but that it would be given the measure of prestige that it enjoyed in the world, Europe and even in Finland for several centuries, and which it still deserves as one of the foremost languages in the European Union.

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  • Ordre des Palmes académiques (‘French Academic Palms’) 1991
  • Ordre national du Mérite (‘National Order of Merit of France’) 2000
  • Membership of a scientific organisation (by invitation): member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 2001
  • Member of the Finnish Society of Science and Letters 2014