Ritva Laury
Humanist of the day

Ritva Laury

Ritva Laury, professor of Finnish, married to a Californian beekeeper and herself now back in Finland, is currently investigating how well traditional linguistic categories are suited to the linguistic description of everyday conversations. Her Academy of Finland project involves researchers working on Finnish, Mandarin Chinese and the rare Nuu-chah-nulth language, at last count spoken by about a hundred people living in Canada.

Ritva Laury

Born August 27, 1950, Turku

Slater International Fellow in Sociology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, 1971-1972, BA 1973, Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland, MA in linguistics (with distinction), California State University, Fresno 1983, PhD in linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara 1995.

After receiving her BA degree from the Helsinki School of Economics, Laury completed her MA and Ph.D in California and worked there for many years before returning to Finland in 2003. At the University of Helsinki, she has worked at the Department of Linguistics (2003-2007) and since 2007 she has been Professor of Finnish at the Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugric and Scandinavian Studies. She is Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the California State University.

Photo: Ari Aalto
Authors: Ritva Laury and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.).
Translated by John Calton.

Ritva Laury’s research concerns the emergence of grammar from interaction. She is also interested in reference, language change, subordination and theoretical issues in linguistics. Most recently she has investigated embodiment in interaction and the question of the appropriateness of traditional linguistic categories such as the clause for the description of ordinary everyday conversation.

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What Ritva Laury appreciates most in academic life is the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers. She enjoys teaching and advising as well as taking part in research projects.

Perhaps the best memories are created by festive academic ceremonies such as the public defence of a thesis or professorial inaugurations.

Laury’s family – her husband, a lifelong beekeeper, and their two daughters – live in the United States, where Laury spends part of the year. In Finland, she enjoys the changing seasons and foraging for mushrooms and berries.

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