Photo: Ari Aalto
Written by Tiina Onikki-Rantajääskö and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (toim.)
Translated by John Calton
My best moments in the University of Helsinki
One of the most exhilarating experiences I can remember was a lecture given by Professor Pertti Virtaranta in my very first term in the Main Building’s old-fashioned lecture hall 5 on the 'new' side! The professor, on the brink of retirement, told us about his field trips in Karelia, showed slides and, with the help of a reel-to-reel tape recorder, exposed us to the Karelian lament, the venerable custom of singing one’s sorrows out of the body. In my mind’s eye the funereal ribbons tied to the crosses in cemeteries, windplaces, were there before me, flapping in the breeze.
Later, in the mid-1990s, I attended a seminar Rievttit – Rights in the same building’s large lecture hall. It was on indigenous, or first nations’ rights. The revitaliser of the Inari variant of the Sámi language, Matti Morottaja from Lake Inari in Finnish Lapland, standing proudly in his Sámi costume, tore up his lectures notes by way of demonstrating the dangers facing his mother tongue. He had heard that the Maori of New Zealand had ‘language nests’: a language immersion set-up whereby the grandparents’ generation passed on to the nursery children their birthright in the form of the indigenous language of the community, the very language the children’s parents had lost. It was out of that seminar that the successful revival of the Sámi languages - Northern, Inari and Skolt - through similar language nests got going with the support of the Finnish Cultural Fund.
Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta. Translated John Calton.
Born 27 July, 1960, Mikkeli
Master of Arts, 1990, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1995, Doctor of Philosophy, 2001 (Finnish Language), University of Helsinki
Docent, Finnish Language, 2003, Universities of Helsinki and Oulu
Professor of Finnish Language, 2013- , University of Helsinki
University Lecturer, 2005–2013, University of Helsinki