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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

The Nordic language community is close to my heart

One of the questions, aside from language planning and maintenance, with which I have most strongly grappled is Nordic linguistic cohesion. Even at the Swedish-speaking School Student Union of Finland, I felt that Nordic cohesion was important, and while working at the University Student Union that feeling was further strengthened.

Through Scandinavian philology and language planning and maintenance I have also created strong professional ties with the other Nordic countries. As secretary of the language board for Swedish-speaking Finns, I participated in the organisation of a Nordic language meeting in Hanasaari. From then on, I participated in each of the annual Nordic language meetings until 2014. This has given me life-long friendships.

I feel that it is self-evident that Nordic cohesion is primarily dependent on our being able to communicate in Scandinavian languages. If we change to English, we lose most of what unites us. In my opinion, if needs be, the use of an interpreter is a better option.

Understanding Scandinavian languages certainly demands effort, but significantly less than learning an entirely new language. Hints and advice for anyone participating in Nordic cooperation can be found in the small publication Att förstå varandra i Norden, which I wrote together with my colleague Catharina Grünbaum.

The history of language cooperation is presented in the publication Guldtavlorna i gräset.

The Nordic language meetings often include wonderful experiences of nature. In this case, the mountain outside Torshavn on the Faroe Islands in 2010. Photo: Mikael Reuter's personal archives.


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