Pirjo Kukkonen
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Pirjo Kukkonen

Pirjo Kukkonen is the first professor of Swedish translation studies at the University of Helsinki. She is a semiotician and translation researcher at the Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, where she is responsible for the teaching and research of translation for our national languages Finnish and Swedish and other Scandinavian languages. As a semiotician she works with the interplay of signs and meaning, studying how meaning is created and how different worlds are translated.

Pirjo Kukkonen

Pirjo Liisa Helinä Kukkonen
Born September 5, 1949 Oulunsalo

Master of Arts (Scandinavian philology) 1974, Licentiate 1983 (Scandinavian languages), PhD 1989, University of Helsinki
Examination for authorised translators (Finnish-Swedish) 1976
Subject teacher training 1974–75, University of Helsinki
Docent in Scandinavian languages 2005–, University of Oulu

Professor of Swedish translation studies 2011–, University of Helsinki
Acting professor of Swedish translation studies 2009–11, university lecturer in Swedish (translation studies) 2004–09, University of Helsinki

Head of the Department of Translation Studies 2000–03, acting professor of Swedish translation and interpretation studies 2000–2004, University of Helsinki
Scholarship researcher 1994–96
Lecturer in Swedish translation and interpretation studies 1991–2004, Acting assistant professor 1991–94, Kouvola Institute for Translator Training/ Department of Translation Studies, University of Helsinki
Research and teaching assistant, Scandinavian languages 1983–88 and 1988–91, University of Helsinki
Part-time teacher of Scandinavian languages, acting lecturer, acting research assistant, acting assistant professor 1975–83, 1990, University of Helsinki

Member of the Scientific Board of the International Semiotics Institute 2014–
Member of the Editorial Board and Scientific Board 2013–, Punctum. International Journal of Semiotics
Principal Investigator (PI) of Swedish translation studies 2011–, University of Helsinki
Researcher and steering-group member 2013–16, TraST Research Community, University of Helsinki
Researcher 2012–, Semiotics and Cultural Heritages: Semiotics, Translation and Cultural Heritages
Executive member of IASS/AIS The International Association for Semiotic Studies – Association Internationale de Sémiotique 2009–
Director (with Ritva Hartama-Heinonen) of the 11th International Symposium on Semiotics and Translation SemTra2015 in Kaunas, Lithuania,

Board member 1999–2012, Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies
Board member, lecturer, researcher 2003–12, Finnish Network University of Semiotics
Board member 2002–13, ISI, International Institute for Semiotic and Structural Studies

Project leader, researcher 2001–04, Kouvola Research Group
Researcher 1999–2002, Popular Imagination (Nordic Network of Folklore, Åbo Akademi University)
Researcher, 1999–2000, Understanding, Misunderstanding, and Self-understanding (ESR project)
Vice president of the Semiotic Society of Finland, 1997–
Expert advisor on Swedish at various ministries 1993–96, HAUS Finnish Institute of Public Management Ltd 1993–96 and Office of the President of the Republic of Finland 1994–99

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Research themes
Language, literature and translation studies, social and cultural semiotics

Awards and special achievements
ICoN Lifetime Achievement Award 2015
Tiedeyhteisön kultainen ansiomerkki (Finnish academic medal) 2014
Festschrift in Honour of Professor Kukkonen’s 60th Birthday
‘Oscar’ of Semiotics 2006
Honorary member of the Semiotic Society of Finland 2006
University of Helsinki Superior of the Year 2001

Photo: Ari Aalto
Written by Pirjo Kukkonen (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Pirjo Kukkonen is the first professor of Swedish translation studies in both Finland and the world. Translation simultaneously requires the intricate detail of lace knitting and mastery of broad subjects. Only when the translator or translation scholar begins to study the source text under a magnifying glass are the smallest…

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During my student days in the 1970s, I met many charismatic professors, teachers and writers at our department Nordica. Thanks to them I developed a simultaneous interest in etymology, historical linguistics, Swedish and Finland Swedish, and Scandinavian literature.

I graduated quickly, as early as 1974, and I qualified as a…

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For me, the high doors of the Great Hall at my Alma Mater, the University of Helsinki, came to symbolise knowledge, doors which as a young student I had a burning curiosity to open so as to enter the world of knowledge and science. The Great Hall, with its solemn…

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Access to the well-springs of the limitless potential of language requires ‘seeing’ and ‘listening’ – as the writer Volter Kilpi writes in his essay “Katsomuksen ihanuudesta” (‘On the wonder of seeing’). As a linguist, language is everything to me. As a semiotician, I see and experience language, literature, culture, music…

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