Miekanhiojaiset 26.5.
Tohtoripromootio 2011

Tervehdyspuhe, FT Elina Kouki

Arvoisa rehtori, hyvä kansleri, kunnioitetut riemutohtorit, kunniatohtorit, promoottorit ja promovendit − and dear Distinguished Honorary Doctors, Ladies and Gentlemen, hyvät kutsuvieraat! 

On behalf of the organizing committee, I have the honour to welcome you to Miekanhiojaiset, the big OPENING of this promotion weekend. Seuraavat kaksi vuorokautta ovat yhtä juhlaa! This night is very special, for all of us – and this is also very exciting because of all these swords!

Oikeastaan nämä akateemiset promootiomiekat ovat vuosien saatossa herättäneet paljon kummastusta. Niitä on pidetty outona traditiona, ja jotkut eivät haluaisi kantaa koko miekkaa − edes akateemisena symbolina. Some people see these swords as symbols of war and violence, and have asked us why we carry on this kind of aggressive tradition here at the University of Turku. "Isn’t the tophat enough?" has somebody asked.

Swords are actually not very Finnish weapons – if you think of Finnish literature, there are not that many references to swords at all, whereas for example in English or French literature swords are common: it seems that Shakespeare’s characters or the three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas don’t take a single step without a sword. That’s why I want to tell you a story about one Finnish poet and his poem which includes a sword.

The story begins in 1939, during the Second World War. At that time my dear grandfather was working as a priest in the north, near the Russian border. The war, so called Winter War, had begun on the last day of November: small Finland was fighting against huge Russia. In spite of that, my grandfather had decided to arrange the traditional Independence Day celebration at the local school in Suomussalmi on the 6th of December as usual. All the people in the village gathered at the school, except the fathers, sons and brothers who were already fighting nearby in the woods in the snow and in the coldness of minus 30 degrees.

So all the others were celebrating the Independence Day at the school, when suddenly the door opened and a very well known Finnish author Ilmari Kianto, who lived in Suomussalmi, came in and interrupted the celebration. He said: “I have an announcement to make: I came here to tell you that I am going to change the words of the poem which I wrote for this country over twenty years ago. I wrote that there is no need for swords in this land; we only need courage and determination to fight against all the problems that we meet here in this poor and cold northern country. “Miekkaa ei tarvis/tarmoa vaan − − . "Now I am going to change these words. From now on, we’ll sing: “If you need a sword,/ take one." − "Miekkaa jos tarvis/tartutaan vaan/puolesta hengen ja heimon ja maan."

And we really needed all the swords we could find during those terrible years of the war. And the fact is that we still need all kinds of swords here in Finland, but happily only symbolic ones nowadays − also here at the University. We need them for example because of our own mother tongue.

It is nearly incredible that it was not so long ago; actually it was in the 19th century, when the Swedish-speaking people here in Finland sharpened their swords for the Finnish language. They wanted it to be the language of literature and poetry, as well as the language of science. They really worked hard. Three of them are actually standing outside of this building at the moment − as a statue − listening to my speech and wondering, what on earth is she doing?!  She is giving a speech in ENGLISH at the oldest University of Finland! − Sorry! I’ll change the language now – I am, after all, a teacher of Finnish language and literature!

Äidinkielihän − toden totta − on sivistysmaissa hallinnon, kulttuurin ja tieteen kieli. Tosiasia kuitenkin on, että meidän tutkijoiden on valittava jokin muu kieli vuorovaikutuksen kieleksi, jos mielimme vaikuttaa maamme rajojen ulkopuolella. Äidinkielellemme, kielelle, joka on se isänmaa, jossa olemme kuin kotonamme ja jossa asumme ulkomaillakin, olemme kuitenkin sen verran velkaa, että meidän on pidettävä se hengissä myös tieteen kielenä. Sen olemme velkaa myös menneille sukupolville, jotka ovat tarttuneet miekkaan tämän kielen ja tämän maan puolesta ja jotka ovat antaneet maksuksi jopa henkensä, että tämän maan ainutlaatuinen kieli ja kulttuuri säilyisivät.

Joku saattaa ajatella, että menipäs pateettiseksi ja tunteelliseksi, mutta toisaalta juuri tunteet sopivat tähän iltaan. Itse asiassa miekkaan tarttumisessa, miekkataisteluissa, on enemmän kysymys tunteista kuin kuolemasta, väkivallasta ja verenhimosta: where there are swords, there are feelings!

If you think of Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet for example, the fights with swords in those plays are always consequences of overwhelming feelings and emotions. There are also all kinds of feelings and emotions in the academic world, when you say or write something that is new or radical, when you try to change something, when you look at things from a different point of view than the others. So maybe the tophat is a symbol of wisdom and science and the sword is actually a symbol of feelings.

To be honest, these "tahkot", grindstones, here, they were not originally made for sharpening swords, but for sharpening of axes. The axes are actually very famous Finnish tools and also weapons, which our ancestors have used a lot − to express their feelings, too; on ollut kirveellä töitä...

Nevertheless, maybe a sword is a more sophisticated symbol for a scientist than an axe. Think if we all had axes in our hands tomorrow, when we are marching from the Concert Hall to the Cathedral! That would be something! 

But now I must quit – I have been talking too much, like teachers always do. Let’s begin to celebrate! Antautukaamme täysin palkein tähän akateemiseen leikkiin, teatteriesitykseen, jossa meillä jokaisella on päärooli – meillä kaikilla on vastuu tämän performanssin onnistumisesta tänä viikonloppuna. And I am sure we'll make it! 

− Kohottakaamme siis malja tälle illalle ja promootioperinteelle! Let’s raise our glasses and have a toast for this night and our promotion tomorrow!

 

Päivitetty 27.05.2011 08:48