Riho Manivald Villem Grünthal
In recognition of the outstanding achievements of Professor Riho Manivald Villem Grünthal in Finno-Ugric studies and his long-standing successful cooperation with researchers of the University of Tartu, the University of Tartu has conferred on him the degree of Honorary Doctor of Linguistics.
Riho Grünthal is a linguist and Professor of Finnic Languages at the University of Helsinki, and his area of responsibility also includes teaching the Estonian language and culture. Compared to other language teaching centres abroad, Estonian is most intensively taught namely at the University of Helsinki. Professor Grünthal has been instrumental in helping to continue teaching Estonian at all levels of higher education there and in securing funds for visiting professors and lecturers of the Estonian language. Graduates of the programme, specialists in Estonian language and culture, work in Estonia and Finland, building and maintaining relations between the two countries in various fields.
Riho Grünthal was born in Helsinki, Finland, on 22 May 1964. He graduated from the University of Helsinki in Finnic languages in 1996 and defended his doctoral thesis at the same university in 2003. He has worked at the University of Helsinki as an assistant and researcher, as an extraordinary professor from 2003 to 2004, and as a full professor since 2005.
He has several research-administrative and other duties as a member of International Committee for Finno-Ugric Congresses, chair of the Finno-Ugrian Society, expert of the Finnish Cultural Foundation, member of the advisory group for Finnish studies at universities abroad, director of a doctoral programme in Langnet, the Finnish graduate school in language studies, and member of the Collegium of the University of Helsinki. Particularly noteworthy is his activity in decision-making bodies important for Estonia: he has been a member, vice chairman (2004) and chairman (2005–2011) of the Tuglas Society, a council member of the Foundation of the Finnish Institute in Estonia, and he is the chairman of the Estonian subfund of Alfred Kordelin Foundation.
Riho Grünthal is a linguist of broad expertise: he is a researcher of Finno-Ugric languages as well as a language typologist, sociolinguist, language historian and contact linguist. He has authored or co-authored 102 publications. In his work and in the papers he has supervised, topics related with the Estonian language and the comparison of Estonian and Finnish play an important role. His activities have an even wider reach: he has delivered presentations and published in both Estonia and Finland to different target groups on the topics of the relationships of Estonian and Finnish linguistics, Estonian literary and cultural history and the formation of the Estonian scholarly class, published the works of Villem Grünthal-Ridala together with Hando Runnel, and translated Estonian poetry into Finnish.
Professor Grünthal cooperates closely with Estonian higher education and research institutions, especially with the University of Tartu. He is a highly esteemed expert, has been a member of the Estonian Higher Education Accreditation Committee and repeatedly evaluated research project proposals, professorship applicants, dissertations and article manuscripts, and acted as a head of joint research groups with members from the universities of Tartu and Helsinki. The University of Helsinki is a partner of the Graduate School of Linguistics, Philosophy and Semiotics of the University of Tartu, with Riho Grünthal acting as the Finnish contact person. He has taught courses at Estonian universities and graduate schools, organised events of mutual interest, supervised master’s and doctoral theses together with researchers of the University of Tartu in both Tartu and Helsinki, and has been an opponent for dissertations.
Riho Grünthal is an editorial board member of several journals published in Estonia (The Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics, Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society, Publications of Võro Institute) and a member of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society. For the enhancement of scientific relationships between Estonia and Finland he received the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 4th class in 2011.
For researchers of the University of Tartu, Riho Grünthal is a good colleague, who can be trusted to provide a wide range of interesting lectures, papers and high-level expert reviews, who organises mutually interesting scientific events, and advises and helps the visiting students from the University of Tartu at the University of Helsinki.