Volume 43, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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Herman Kellgren (1822–1856) was a Finnish Orientalist and national activist. He lived and worked at a time when the cultural and intellectual life of Finland was still dominated by Swedish, while Finnish, the majority language, was just beginning to make its way into the sphere of high culture and education. At an early stage of his career, Kellgren published several works on the Finnish language, in which national engagement meets fascination with Sanskrit. His accounts of Finnish are clearly evaluative; they seek to raise interest in Finnish and promote its prestige, both at home and abroad. One of the more significant inspirations discernible in his works on Finnish was the language philosophy of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835). One of the challenges of the endeavor to describe Finnish in Humboldtian terms was determining the status of Finnish within Humboldtian hierarchies of language perfection — hierarchies which clearly favored inflection (as exemplified by Sanskrit) as a grammatical procedure and disfavored agglutination which is characteristic for Finnish. In his efforts to remain true to the spirit of Humboldt, and to present Finnish in a positive light, Kellgren insisted on labeling it as inflected rather than agglutinative.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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