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Janne Saarikivi

Janne Santeri Saarikivi
Born May 29, 1973, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts 1996, Master of Arts 1998, Licentiate 2003, PhD 2006 (Finno-Ugrian languages), University of Helsinki

Helsinki Collegium research fellow 2014–2017, University of Helsinki
Acting professor of Finno-Ugrian languages 2009–2014
Postdoctoral researcher 2006–2008, University of Helsinki
Researcher 2008, Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
Visiting lecturer of Finnish language and culture 2004–2006, University of Tartu
Acting university lecturer (Finno-Ugric studies) 2003–2004, Doctoral student 1999–2003, research assistant and civilian service 1995–1999, University of Helsinki

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Awards and special achievements:
Society for the Study of Finnish Language article prize 2002
Best Doctoral Dissertation Prize 2007
Member of the Young Researcher Society of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 2009
Member of the editorial boards of several international journals in, inter alia, Russia, Estonia and France

Photo: Eija Saarikivi
Written by Janne Saarikivi (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Among extinct and moribund languages

To begin with, I studied the extinct Uralic languages of Northern Russia. For my dissertation I gathered material from the dialects of Russian spoken in the Pinega District of Arkhangelsk Oblast that contain much vocabulary from extinct Finno-Ugrian languages. Some of the local inhabitants consider themselves Chude, the same word some Vepsians have used to describethemselves. I was unable to find sufficient studies on the effects of extinct languages and language shift, so I was forced to develop some of the methodology myself.

Since then I have studied the history of the lexicon of Finnish and other Uralic languages, in particular Slavic loanwords in Finnish and other Baltic Finnic languages as well as the conditions for survival of minority languages. At present I am in charge of two research projects. The MINOREURUS project focuses on linguistic minority communities in the European Union and Russia, taking a comparative perspective on issues dealing with language death, maintenance and revitalisation. This project has already produced dissertations on the language legislation of the regions of Russia and on the revitalisation of Inari Sami. Right now I am busy editing a final report where the central question is whether we are now more in the middle of a mass extinction of languages or rather at the dawn of a new kind of linguistic diversity. Both these processes are connected to the increase in personal mobility and the disappearance of traditional communities.

Photo: Eija Saarikivi

In a project funded by the Kone Foundation, we are studying the lexicon of Finno-Ugrian languages from the perspective of internal borrowing within the language family. Our working hypothesis is that many irregular phonemic correspondences between Uralic languages can be explained as loanwords. This means that the relationship between Uralic languages is far more complex than the assumption of a straightforward branching descent from a remote common ancestor would imply. For example, Baltic Finnic languages had contacts with Komi, a Permic language in Northern Russia, up until the Middle Ages.

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