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Petar Kehayov was elected Professor of Finnic Languages

On 1 February 2023, Petar Kehayov, a Finno-Ugricist of Bulgarian origin, who holds a doctoral degree from the University of Tartu, starts as a Professor of Finnic Languages at the University of Tartu. The professor plans to initiate several collaborative projects both within and outside the institute, involving researchers from other disciplines of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. 

Professor Kehayov's research interests are diverse, ranging from Finno-Ugric languages to linguistic typology, from grammar to semantics. He defended his doctoral thesis in 2008 on the topic "An Areal-Typological Perspective to Evidentiality: the Cases of the Balkan and Baltic Linguistic Areas". He has worked at the University of Tartu, the University of Regensburg, the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the University of Antwerp. 

After 20 years, there will again be two professors of Finnic languages in the world, Petar Kehayov at the University of Tartu and Riho Grünthal at the University of Helsinki. In Tartu, the position of a professor of Finnic languages was last filled in 2003, when it was held by Tiit-Rein Viitso, a distinguished linguist who passed away last year. 

During his professorship, Petar Kehayov wants to strengthen interdisciplinary cooperation. Kehayov sees opportunities for cooperation with University of Tartu researchers of Finno-Ugric languages and Estonian dialects, as well as with other disciplines of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For example, Kehayov is interested in exploring how the economic and demographic changes in north-western Russia in recent centuries (e.g. the development of transport infrastructure) have influenced the development of the dialects of Finnic languages. This opens up the prospects of cooperation with researchers of the (early) modern period. The point of contact with cultural researchers would be the study of smaller Finnic literatures. From the point of view of linguistics, the works of a single (e.g. Karelian) author can be seen as an idiolect corpus, which can be used as a basis for studying the choices made by a single language user and their dependence on various internal and external linguistic factors. 

In addition to cross-disciplinary cooperation, one of Kehayov's goals is to use modern linguistic methods, such as corpus linguistics and quantitative analysis, in studying Finnic languages. So far, Finnic languages have been studied mostly by qualitative methods. "The study of Finnic languages could be taken to the next level by cooperation with experts in corpus linguistics and quantitative methods working at our institute," says Petar Kehayov. 

Petar Kehayov was elected as the Professor of Finnic Languages by the University of Tartu senate on 16 December 2022, and his professorship starts on 1 February 2023. 


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