Seppo Suhonen in memoriam

Johanna Laakso johanna.laakso at
Tue Sep 14 11:14:36 UTC 2010

With deep sorrow we report that Seppo Suhonen, professor emeritus of Finnic
languages at the University of Helsinki, passed away yesterday at the
Helsinki University Central Hospital, at the age of 72 years.

Seppo Suhonen was an active researcher of Finnic languages, especially
Livonian, which was already the theme of his doctoral dissertation ("Die
jungen lettischen Lehnwörter im Livischen", MSFOu 154, 1973). His interest
in Livonian and Latvian was also honoured by the Latvian Academy of
Sciences: among its foreign members, he was the only Finnish linguist. The
University of Tartu granted him an honorary doctorate, and he was an
esteemed member in numerous scholarly associations and expert bodies.

As professor of Finnic languages from 1978 until his retirement, Seppo
Suhonen was the benevolent and encouraging teacher of many young
Balto-Fennicists of those times. As the indefatigable leader of the
Department of Finnic, later also Finno-Ugric languages, he carried the
responsibility for many difficult tasks such as the administration of
international contacts across the Iron Curtain (for instance, organising
Estonian lecturers for the University of Helsinki) or, later on, defending
his low-volume discipline under the pressures of "economising" and
"streamlining". With an equally tireless devotion he worked for the
Finno-Ugrian Society, first as a young researcher with the Society's
scholarship, then as the secretary (1975-1983) and, finally (1991-2000),
president of the Society.

Last Friday, many of us ­ colleagues, friends, former students ­ saw him at
a conference in Helsinki, physically broken by a severe illness but
spiritually still his old self. Now hit by these sad news, we will cherish
the memory of his undaunted diligence, friendliness and characteristic sense
of humour.

Riho Grünthal
Johanna Laakso
(also in the name of many other friends and colleagues)

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johanna Laakso
Universität Wien, EVSL Abteilung Finno-Ugristik
Campus AAKH Spitalgasse 2-4 Hof 7
A-1090 Wien
johanna.laakso at |
Tel. +43 1 4277 43019 | Fax +43 1 4277 9430

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