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Pirkko Nuolijärvi

Pirkko Sinikka Nuolijärvi
Born July 19, 1949, Artjärvi.

Master of Arts, 1972, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1985 and Doctor of Philosophy, 1986 (Finnish Language), University of Helsinki

Director, Institute for the Languages of Finland, Professor, 1998-
Associate Professor of Finnish and Communications, 1989−98, Helsinki School of Economics
Acting professor of Finnish Language, 1993−94, University of Helsinki
Acting associate professor of Finnish Language 1987−1988, University of Helsinki
Docent, Finnish Language, 1987−, University of Helsinki
Acting University Lecturer 1986−87, University of Uppsala, Department of Fenno-Ugrian Languages
Project researcher, 1982−85, Muuttajien kieli –project, Academy of Finland
Researcher, 1976−81, 1986, Institute for the Languages of Finland
Senior Archive Assistant, 1973−76, Sanakirjasäätiö (’Lexicographical foundation’)
Research Assistant, 1971−72, Käänteissanakirja (‘Reverse dictionary’), academy of Finland

Awards and honours:
Honorary Doctor, Faculty of Arts, University of Vaasa, 2006
Svenska Folkskolans Vänner, Brobyggarpriset (‘Bridgebuilder prize’), 2012
Finnish Cultural Fund Award, 2000
Doctoral Thesis Prize, August Ahlqvist, Kai Donner, Artturi Kannisto ja Yrjö Wichmann fund, 1987
Award, E. A. Saarimaa fund, 1977
Badge of Merit, Estonian Ministry for Education and Science Ministry, 2009
Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland (1st class), 2005
Badge of Merit, Svenska Finlands folkting- Swedish Assembly of Finland, 2003

Photo: Otso Kaijaluoto
Written by Pirkko Nuolijärvi (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by John Calton

Institute for the Languages of Finland

I have been the director of Kotus, the Institute for the Languages of Finland, since August 1998. Kotus is part of the Ministry of Education and Culture and operates in accordance with the law and decree regarding its activity. Kotus is responsible for language planning and counselling in Finnish and Swedish, lexicographical work and research on related topics. Kotus also co-ordinates the work of the advisory boards of Sami, Romani and sign language.

Kotus is an institution for the whole population and everyone interested in the Finnish and Swedish languages, and collaborates with universities, government agencies and municipalities in particular. The University of Helsinki is a close partner: the expertise of people working at Kotus has been useful on many courses, and some of our experts have also supervised Masters’ and PhD theses, given statements on dissertations and been involved in appointments procedures. The representatives of the subjects of Finnish, Finno-Ugric languages and Scandinavian languages are important for Kotus, not only as producers of high-quality research. In participation with the university, Kotus has produced Iso suomen kielioppi ( ‘A comprehensive Finnish grammar’), discussed topics of language policy as well as published the action programme Suomen kielen tulevaisuus (‘The future of the Finnish language’). As for working with data, the FIN-CLARIN consortium is invaluable for Kotus, with its digitalisation of vast amounts of language material.

Pirkko Nuolijärvi at her desk at Kotus on Vuorikatu in 2009. (Photo Sirkka Rautoja)​
Pirkko Nuolijärvi at her desk at Kotus on Vuorikatu in 2009. (Photo Sirkka Rautoja)​

Kotus is very visible online and much of its work is freely accessible, which is important also for the work of university scholars, teachers and students alike. In April 2015 two usage guides, Kielitoimiston ohjepankki and Ordförrådet were published and are growing all the time. The Kielikello and Språkbruk archives are open to everyone with a knowledge of Finnish and/or Swedish. During the past few years, special attention has been paid to the language and terminology used by public authorities.

Two dictionaries, the New Dictionary of Modern Finnish, Kielitoimiston sanakirja, and the Karelian dictionary, Karjalan kielen sanakirja, are available online in their entirety. The online versions of the Finnish dialect dictionary, Suomen murteiden sanakirja, its Swedish counterpart, Ordbok över Finlands svenska folkmål and the Dictionary of Old Literary Finnish, Vanhan kirjasuomen sanakirja are growing year on year. Kotus also has a large collection of various kinds of language data, which are being made more readily accessible all the time.

Kotus has close connections to the partner institutions in the other Nordic countries and also co-operates with the Eesti Keele Institute of Estonia. Kotus is a member of the worldwide Clarity association, which promotes the use of plain and readily understandable legal language in the communication of both authorities and companies. Kotus is also a member of the European Federation of National Institutions for Language and part of the ENeL project (European Network of Lexicography).

Many of those who work at Kotus have also worked at the University of Helsinki and vice versa. There are no hard and fast boundaries between these organisations; of upmost importance is the co-operation between the people involved. A sensible division of labour does not distance the two but promotes the achievement of a shared goal: to maintain the diversity of the Finnish and Swedish languages in all domains of social interactions.

Pirkko Nuolijärvi is granted the Finnish Cultural Foundation award at the Finlandia Hall in 2000.​
Pirkko Nuolijärvi is granted the Finnish Cultural Foundation award at the Finlandia Hall in 2000.​


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