Chair no. 3 - Sture Allén

Inducted: 1980

Sture Allén was born in Gothenburg in 1928. He earned his Ph.D. in Nordic languages at the University of Gothenburg in 1965 and was professor of linguistic data processing at Statens humanistiska forskningsråd (The national humanistic research council) between 1972 and ‘79 as well as of computational linguistics at the University of Gothenburg 1979–93.

Allén has initiated several data-supported lexical projects, embodied in Nusvensk frekvensordbok (Dictionary of current Swedish vernacular) (1–4, 1970–80), Svensk ordbok utgiven av Svenska Akademien (the Swedish Academy’s Swedish dictionary) (1–2, 2009), Svenska Akademiens ordlista (the Swedish Academy’s defining dictionary, from the 11th edition, 1986) and OSA (‘RSVP’), the Swedish Academy’s Swedish dictionary as a structured online database). In 1975 he founded Språkbanken (The language bank), a national e-infrastructure system supporting research based on language data. He was also the initiator of Svenska Akademiens grammatik (the Swedish Academy grammar) and Svenska klassiker utgivna av Svenska Akademien (Swedish classics published by the Swedish Academy).

Among his own works: Grafematisk analys som grundval för textedering (Graphemic analysis as basis for text editing, 1965), Johan Ekeblads brev till brodern Claes Ekeblad 1639-1655 (Johan Ekeblad’s letters to his brother Claes Ekeblad 1639-1655, 1965), Text Processing (ed., 1982) and Nobelpriset i litteratur. En introduktion (The Nobel Prize in literature: an introduction, with Kjell Espmark, 2001). A bumper essay collection, Modersmålet i fäderneslandet (The mother tongue in the fatherland) was published in 1999.

Allén was voted into the Swedish Academy in 1980, succeeding the philologist Carl Ivar Ståhle. In 1986 he was appointed Permanent Secretary, serving until May 1999. He was a member of the Nobel Committee 1987–99. As Permanent Secretary, Allén worked actively to encourage public interest in language, partly through frequent expert contributions to television and radio shows such as Gomorron Sverige (Good morning Sweden), På ren svenska (In plain Swedish) and Språkligheter (‘Language curiosa’). He also introduced the still-running event series Kvällar på Svenska Akademien (Evenings at the Swedish Academy).

Alongside his membership in the Swedish Academy, Allén belongs to a number of other Swedish and foreign academies.

Link to the complete bibliography »