RAMSTEDT, Gustaf John. Tammisaari 22.10.1873 — Helsinki 25.11.1950. Finnish Altaic Scholar. Son of Gustaf Adolf R. and Edla Matilda Holmberg. Studies of classics, Sanskrit (under Donner and Reuter) and Finno-Ugrian at Helsinki. M.A. 1898, Lic. phil. (Ph.D.) 1902 (diss. on Mari language), Docent of Altaic Linguistics 1906. Schoolteacher in Lahti 1902-09. Professor (eo. for Altaic Linguistics, 1917-41) at Helsinki University, where for a while he also taught Sanskrit. In the beginning of the century several travels of exploration to Mongolia and Central Asia. In the 1920s Finnish ambassador in Tokyo (1919-29), also visited China and Korea. Married 1897 Ida Olivia Alexandra Josefsson (1876–1962), four daughters and three sons.
Ramstedt was a famous specialist of Mongolian and comparative Altaic, a pioneer spoken Mongolian (Khalkha) and Korean studies, who founded a school in Finland and elsewhere. He firmly accepted the original affinity of Altaic, in which he also included Korean. He was also an esperantist and knew Japanese. Among his students were M. Räsänen, A. J. Joki and —> P. Aalto.
Publications: Several important monographs on Khalkha (diss. Über die konjugation des Khalkha-mongolischen. 15+119 p. MSFOu 19. Helsinki 1902; Das schriftmongolische und die Urgamundart. JSFOu 21:2, 1903, 56 p.), on Oirat (Kalmückische Sprachproben. 154 p. MSFOu 27:1. Helsinki 1909-1919; Kalmückisches Wörterbuch. 30+560 p. Lexica SFU 3. H. 1935), on Moghol (“Mogholica. Beiträge zur kenntnis der moghol-sprache in Afghanistan”, JSFOu 23:4, 1906, 60 p.), on general Altaic, and on Korean (Korean Grammar. 4+199 p. MSFOu 82. Helsinki 1939), nothing on Indology (a translation of Harṣa’s Ratnāvalī extant as a manuscript in Helsinki University Library). A number of posthumous works and papers have been edited by P. Aalto and H. Halén.
– Edited by H. Halén: Nordmongolische Volksdichtung. Gesammelt von G. J. Ramstedt, bearbeitet, übersetzt und hrsg. von H. Halén. 1-2. 287+322 p. MSFOu 153 & 156. Helsinki 1973-74.
Sources: D. Sinor, TP 41, 1952, 230-233; P. Aalto, FUF 30, 1949–50, 37-40; A.J. Joki, Virittäjä 54, 1950, 445-448, 481; P. Poucha, ArO 19, 1951, 617-624; Y.H. Toivonen, JSFOu 55:1, 1951, 1-21; bibliography by K.-E. Henriksson, StOr 14:12, 1950; Wikipedia with photo.
H. Halén, Biliktu Bakshi, the knowledgeable Teacher. G. J. Ramstedt’s Career as a Scholar. MSFOu 229. Helsinki 1998.
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