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Jaakko Leino

Jaakko Matti Leino
Born March 25, 1971, Espoo

Master of Arts, 1997, Doctor of Philosophy (Finnish Language), 2003, University of Helsinki

Professor of Finnish, 2011– , University of Helsinki

Co-ordinator, language studies doctoral programme Langnet, 2003–06
Professor of Finnish, University of Jyväskylä, 2006–07
University Lecturer in General Linguistics, University of Helsinki, 2007–08
Professor of Finnish, Åbo Akademi University, 2008–09
Researcher, Institute for the Languages of Finland, 2009–11

Research interests:
Cognitive linguistics, construction grammar, syntax, semantics, language frameworks, dialect syntax

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Photo: Saara Leino
Written by Jaakko Leino, Kaija Hartikainen (ed.)
Translated by Joseph McVeigh

Big shoes, shrinking world

When viewed through an historical lens, Jaakko Leino’s professorship is a first for this field. The professorship was established at the Imperial Alexander University in 1850 and the list of Leino’s predecessors includes some big names, such as M. A. Castrén, Elias Lönnrot, and E. N. Setälä.

Even though there is no special status for this professorship at the moment, its holder still has big shoes to fill. Managing it has always been considered a serious and long-term task: Jaakko Leino is only the ninth person to be appointed to this professorship during its 165-year history, although Castrén only held it for a couple of years before his death and Arvid Genetz left soon after the appointment to become the professor of Finno-Ugric Languages. Typically the professor appointed to this position has held it for a quarter of a century and played an extensive and important role in the development and operation of Finnish society and the Finnish language.

Professor Jaakko Leino has been active in academic organisations, such as the Linguistic Association of Finland, of which he is currently the chairperson, and the Finnish Cognitive Linguistics Association, of which he is a former chairperson. He is also on the advisory editorial board of the SKY Journal of Linguistics and the online journal Constructions. In addition to these, he has been active in organising various international and Finnish conferences.

Beyond the academic community, Jaakko Leino works as vice-chair of the Board of the Finnish Language, for which he has done language standardisation work. For the Matriculation Examination Board he works as a moderator for the Finnish language matriculation examinations and is involved in various other background research work for mother tongue and literature in education.

By way of a hobby, he is a member of the naming commission for the municipality of Kirkkonummi, to the west of Helsinki, responsible for coming up with street names and other official place names. He is particularly interested in securing the social status of the Finnish language. People’s mobility and the staggering proliferation of means of communication have revolutionised the world’s language dynamic in ways that we haven’t fully worked out, and that present new challenges for the Finnish language.

Photo: Pirkko Leino.​
Photo: Pirkko Leino.​


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