Spreading the Written Word: Mikael Agricola and the Birth of Literary Finnish

Spreading the Written Word: Mikael Agricola and the Birth of Literary Finnish

By Kaisa Häkkinen
Book Description

The Protestant Reformation began in Germany in 1517, and the adoption of Lutheranism was the decisive impetus for literary development in Finland. As the Reformation required the use of the vernacular in services and ecclesiastical ceremonies, new manuals and biblical translations were needed urgently.

The first Finnish books were produced by Mikael Agricola. He was born an ordinary son of a farmer, but his dedication to his studies opened up the road to leading roles in the Finnish Church. He was able to bring a total of nine works in Finnish to print, which became the foundation of literary Finnish.

The first chapter outlines the historical background necessary to understand the life’s work of Mikael Agricola. The second chapter describes Agricola’s life. Chapter three presents the Finnish works published by Agricola. The fourth chapter is a depiction of Agricola’s Finnish. Agricola carried out his life’s work as part of a network of influential connections, which is described in chapter five. The sixth chapter examines the importance of Agricola’s work, research on Agricola and Agricola’s role in contemporary Finnish culture. The book mainly focuses on language and cultural history, but in terms of Church history, it also provides a review on the progression and arrival of the Reformation to Finland.

Finnish is a Uralic language but the source languages of Agricola’s translations – Latin, German, Swedish and Greek – were all Indo-European languages. Thus, the oldest Finnish texts were strongly influenced by foreign elements and structures. Some of those features were later eliminated whereas others became essential constituents of standard Finnish. To illustrate this development, the Finnish in Agricola’s works has systematically been compared with the standard contemporary language.

This book is part of the Studia Fennica Linguistica series.

Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Abbreviations and Symbols
  • 1. From a Pre-Literary to a Literary Culture
    • 1.1 Mediaeval Heritage
      • 1.1.1 A Literary Culture Arrives in Finland
      • 1.1.2 Finnish in Texts of Other Languages
      • 1.1.3 Finnish in the Middle Ages
    • 1.2 The Reformation Progresses to Finland
      • 1.2.1 New Teachings in Wittenberg
      • 1.2.2 The Reformation Expands to Scandinavia
      • 1.2.3 The First Reformation Messengers and Strongholds in Finland
    • 1.3 The First Finnish Manuscripts
  • 2. The Life of Mikael Agricola
    • 2.1 Family Background and Early Schooling
    • 2.2 A Schoolboy in Vyborg
    • 2.3 Work as Secretary to the Bishop
    • 2.4 A Student in Wittenberg
    • 2.5 A Cathedral School Headmaster
    • 2.6 From a Bishop’s Assistant to Bishop
  • 3. The Finnish Works of Mikael Agricola
    • 3.1 Agricola’s Primer / Abckiria
    • 3.2 Agricola’s Prayer Book / Rucouskiria Bibliasta
    • 3.3 Agricola’s New Testament / Se Wsi Testamenti
    • 3.4 Agricola’s Agenda / Käsikiria Castesta ia muista Christikunnan Menoista
    • 3.5 Agricola’s Missal / Messu eli Herran Echtolinen
    • 3.6 Agricola’s Passion / Se meiden Herran Jesusen Christusen Pina
    • 3.7 Agricola’s Psalter / Dauidin Psaltari
    • 3.8 Agricola’s Collection of Canticles and Prophecies / Weisut ia Ennustoxet Mosesen Laista ia Prophetista Wloshaetut
    • 3.9 Agricola’s Three Minor Prophets / Ne Prophetat Haggai SacharJa Maleachi
  • 4. Finnish in the Works of Mikael Agricola
    • 4.1 Agricola’s Alphabet and its Characters
    • 4.2 Phonetic Length
    • 4.3. Individual Characters by Phonetic Class
      • 4.3.1 Stops
      • 4.3.2 Fricatives Not Known in Contemporary Finnish
      • 4.3.3 Semivowels j and v
      • 4.3.4 Other Consonants
      • 4.3.5 Vowel Quality
      • 4.3.6 Phonetic Phenomenon and Inflectional Forms
    • 4.4 Nominal Inflection
      • 4.4.1 Declension: Case Inflection
      • 4.4.2 Pronouns
    • 4.5 Conjugation: Finite Verbal Inflection
      • 4.5.1 Main Classes
      • 4.5.2 Moods
      • 4.5.3 Tenses
      • 4.5.4 Personal Inflection
      • 4.5.5 Two Important Features
    • 4.6 Infinitive Verbal Forms
    • 4.7 Possessive Suffixes
    • 4.8 Special Syntactic Features in Agricola
      • 4.8.1 Word Order
      • 4.8.2 Passive Constructions and Reflexive Expressions
      • 4.8.3 Congruency
      • 4.8.4 Conjunctions
      • 4.8.5 Non-Finite Clauses
    • 4.9 Vocabulary in the Works of Agricola
      • 4.9.1 Statistics on Agricola’s Vocabulary
      • 4.9.2 Basic Vocabulary
      • 4.9.3 Word Formation
      • 4.9.4 Dialectical Vocabulary
      • 4.9.5 Loanwords and Calques
      • 4.9.6 Remnants of the Past in Agricola’s Vocabulary
      • 4.9.7 Cultural-Historical Evidence
  • 5. Mikael Agricola’s Networks in Finland and Abroad
    • 5.1 Agricola’s Teachers, Assistants and Supporters
    • 5.2 Agricola as a Representative of Finland
    • 5.3 Agricola as a Provider of Information and Influence from Abroad
  • 6. The Legacy of Mikael Agricola
    • 6.1 The Literary Legacy of Mikael Agricola
    • 6.2 Research on Michael Agricola and His Life’s Work
    • 6.3 Mikael Agricola as a National Figure
  • Timeline of Events in the Life of Mikael Agricola
  • Bibliography
    • Source Materials
    • Literature
  • Historical Personal Names
  • Place Names in Past and Present Finland
    • Naming in Finland
    • Historical Provinces
  • Inflectional Paradigms in Finnish
    • Nominal Inflection
    • Possessive Suffixes
    • Nominal Inflection with Possessive Suffixes
    • Personal Pronoun Inflection
    • Verbal Inflection
    • Infinitive (Non-Finite) Forms
  • Abstract
  • The most important places throughout Mikael Agricola’s life
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