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Mikael Reuter

Born May 17, 1943, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1969 (Scandinavian languages), Licentiate 1982, University of Helsinki

Head of the department of Swedish 1992–2008, Institute for the Languages of Finland
Senior researcher (specialised in Swedish for public administration) 1987–92
Researcher (department of Swedish) 1976–87
Teaching assistant in Scandinavian languages 1970–76, University of Helsinki
Secretary General of the Swedish-speaking School Student Union of Finland 1963–64

Research themes
At university primarily the phonetics of Swedish in Finland, particularly the variety spoken in Helsinki. Later, more generally the relationship of Fenno-Swedish to Swedish in Sweden.

Publications, awards and honours

Photo: Peter Slotte
Written by Mikael Reuter (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

From the Phonetics of Helsinki Swedish to the Correct Use of Language

When Mikael Reuter worked at the University of Helsinki (and also for a short while after) his main area of research was Swedish phonetics, particularly the pronunciation of Swedish in Helsinki. Above all, he researched the quality of vowels and the relative duration of sounds and syllables. The research gave rise, among other things, to an unpublished licentiate thesis, Kvantitet i Helsingforssvenskan (1982). Elsewhere, as a research and teaching assistant and visiting lecturer, he primarily taught Swedish phonology. After receiving a post at the Institute for the Languages of Finland, Reuter conducted no further academic research, with the exception of the completion of his licentiate degree. Instead, he has conducted applied research on the special characteristics of Fenno-Swedish as compared to Swedish in Sweden.

Mikael Reuter has written several hundred language columns in the 'Hufvudstadsbladet'-newspaper over the years. Pictured is the logo for Reuter's language column 'Reuters ruta'.

As the leading language planning expert at the department of Swedish at the Institute for the Languages of Finland, Reuter worked to maintain the Swedish language and improve its position in Finland. His goal has been to ensure that Swedish can also be used in all sectors of society in the future. Language planning and maintenance is much more than the correct use of language and the avoidance of ‘Finlandisms’. Those issues are naturally important, particularly for minority language groups like the Swedish-speaking Finns. For Reuter what has also been important is cooperation with journalists, editors and translators, the publishing of dictionaries, manuals, and the periodical Språkbruk, writing language columns, various courses and seminars and Nordic language cooperation.

Mikael Reuter began work on a Finnish-Swedish dictionary around 1990. In the photo the new dictionary is being presented to King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, November 17, 1997. From the left of the picture, his Royal Highness, Mikael Reuter, editor in chief Birgitta Romppenen, CEO of WSOY Publishing Jorma Kaimo and head of the Institute for the Languages of Finland, Pasi Saukkonen.


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