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Riho Grünthal

Born 22 May, 1964, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1990 (Finnic Languages, joint honours in Finno-Ugric Languages, 1991), Licentiate of Philosophy 1996 and Doctor of Philosophy (Finnic Languages) 2003, University of Helsinki

Professor of Finnic Languages 2005-, University of Helsinki
Researcher, Institute for the Languages of Finland 1991–1992
M.A.Castrén seura (‘society’) and Ministry of Education project secretary 1992–1993
Finnic Languages Assistant 1993–99 and Researcher 1999–2002, University of Helsinki.
Secretary of Finno-Ugric Society 1994–2003
Professor of Finnic Languages 2003–2005 (fixed term), University of Helsinki

Publications and other academic activity

Research interests: Finnic languages and the Finno-Ugric of the Volga region, language change and change in speech communities, early history of languages, language typology, sociolinguistics and etymology.

Photo: Lena Salmi
Written by Riho Grünthal and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

In the field wielding a pen

In August 2013, our research group and students took a trip to the Erzya villages in the Republic of Mordovia, setting foot on the land where the language is used and where fresh data could be acquired. We were modestly hoping to find friendly language guides, but instead we were received like guests of honour. The script was changed, and our 20-strong group turned into a delegation. There were endless festivities. Amidst all the parties, we also longed to have time for everyday work, and in the end we ended up getting both.

An ethnographic working method has its own element of surprise. A professor’s workday often consists of hours sitting in front of a computer screen, but also encounters with different kinds of people. If you go as a guest, you have to take the role of a guest, too. For the local hosts in the Republic of Mordovia – who seemed to multiply from village to village – it was important to have the chance to talk to guests who came from far away. The experience was as valuable for the other researchers and the students, and there was plenty of new information to update in the approaching winter months.  

Photo: Riho Grünthal.​
Photo: Riho Grünthal.​


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