A Day to Remember 1

What happens when three professors of the School of Languages and Translation Studies retire at the same and give their valedictory addresses in the same room?


There is of course a full house, with colleagues, collaborators, students, friends and family in attendance. The addresses are full of memories from the professors’ long careers, both personal recollections and accounts of the many changes in their respective fields of research and in university life in general.


And then there is the question of code choice: what should the language of the ceremonies be? We do not have to hypothesize about this, however, as we already know what happened when Professors Risto Hiltunen, Yves Gambier and Luigi de Anna gave their valedictory addresses in Room I in the University Main Building on 14 May, 2014. In spite of their different mother tongues and departmental working languages, all three professors gave their addresses in English, which was the dominant language of the festivities: most of the other speeches that afternoon were either English or multilingual. This interesting case of code-selection clearly reflects the role of English in academia, including our own School.


The multilingual (but dominantly English) festivities were by no means over once the speeches had been given in the afternoon. To celebrate Risto’s successful career and express our gratitude for having had such an excellent boss for 26 years, we threw him a surprise party in the evening – in Turku Castle, no less. Risto was fetched from his home, driven around the city blindfolded and eventually dropped off at the Castle. Upon entering, he was met by his jubilant colleagues, dressed to the nines (which in a Finnish academic context means not only formal dress but top hats and swords), after which he and his wife were invited to slip into medieval attire. The whole party were then taken on a guided tour of the Castle, the highlight of which was Risto being knighted in festive ceremony. What followed was a medieval banquet in the Queen’s Chamber, with an assortment of dishes served on rye bread instead of plates, several speeches and some musical entertainment. As the dinner ended and we left the Castle at eleven, we were greeted outdoors in the May night by the full moon and blackbirds singing – a wonderful way to finish a memorable day of celebrations.

Text & Photos: Janne Skaffari

One comment on “A Day to Remember

  1. Pingback: Festschrifts and academic festivities ← EnglanTY

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