Contact Information

P.O. Box 59 (Unioninkatu 38B)
00014 University of Helsinki



The program relies upon observation of Sir William Jones who in 1786 noted the existence of a common source for Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Gothic, Celtic and Old Persian, which has been called Proto-Indo-European (Urindogermanisch) since 1813. The program continues the conservative tradition begun by Franz Bopp and Rasmus Rask, and unlike in most of the universities the program at theUniversity of Helsinki reconstructs one (and only one) laryngeal to Proto-Indo-European. The underlying monolaryngeal theory of Oswald Szemerényi, Johann Tischler and others, has now been developed into a modern reconstruction theory in Pyysalo (2013).

In University of Helsinki Indo-European linguistics is understood as a branch of natural science within humanities, and the program continues the view originally proposed by August Schleicher in 1850s: Not only is the reconstruction of the proto-languages strictly regulated, but the program applies tools of digital humanities and language technology.


The subject was earlier taught as part of Sanskrit and Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at the University of Helsinki. The teaching of Sanskrit started at the University of Helsinki as early as 1835, but the first professor in the subject was appointed only in 1875. This was Otto Donner, the founder of the Finno-Ugrian Society for the comparative study of the Finno-Ugric languages, and his successors include J. N. Reuter and Pentti Aalto. Nowadays South Asian Studies and Indo-European Studies are taught as two different fields of study.