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Julio Reuter

Julio Nathanael Reuter
Born January 7, 1863, Turku. Died January 9, 1937, Helsinki

MA 1886, PhD 1897, Imperial Alexander University
Docent of Sanskrit and Comparative Indo-European Linguistics, 1891–1906

Extraordinary Professor of Sanskrit and Indo-European Linguistics, 1906–1931, Imperial Alexander University (University of Helsinki from 1919-)

Member of the Royal Society of London 1897
Member of the Finnish Society of Science and Letters 1910
Honorary PhD from the University of Glasgow 1901
Commander of the White Rose of Finland 1919

Photo: Museovirasto
Written by Lauri Lönnström
Translated by Joe McVeigh

Sanskrit research and misfortune

Julio Reuter began studying Classical languages, Swedish and English at the Imperial Alexander University. The then Professor of Sanskrit and comparative linguistics, Otto Donner, nevertheless sparked his interest in Sanskrit. After completing his Master’s degree, Reuter travelled to the University of Jena in Germany, after which his journey continued to Paris, London and Oxford. He returned from his first study trip in 1887.

The next time Reuter headed abroad was in 1889–90, when he travelled to Berlin to conduct research for his doctoral dissertation. His mentor, Donner, was interested in discovering the phonetic laws of words and language forms, and this seems to have inspired Reuter to research stress in Sanskrit compound words. Reuter’s doctoral dissertation was completed in 1891, and was well received. He had already managed to write another manuscript on the subject, and consequently he was appointed docent the same year. The manuscript in question was nevertheless destroyed in a fire aboard a steamboat travelling between Parainen and Helsinki in 1897.

Reuter focused his attention on a new area of research after visiting England on an Imperial Alexander University scholarship in 1897. The new subject dealt with the publication of critical editions of complex ritual Sanskrit texts and their commentaries. One third of the study was published by Reuter at his own expense in 1904. The remainder should have been published in the 1920s, but this foundered when the publishers lost the manuscript in its entirety.

Reuter’s interest in research began to flag with the increase in his political and teaching obligations. He was appointed professor in 1906, after which the number of publications fell, although their content was nevertheless of high quality. As a university teacher, Reuter exerted a wide influence over 20th century linguistics, and his lectures were followed by all the later professors of philology.

Photo: Museovirasto.


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