Sture Allèn#

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Professor Sture Allén was born in Göteborg, Sweden, on December 31, 1928. In 1954, he married Solveig, née Janson, a teacher for physically disabled pupils. They have three children.

He went to school in his home town, taking particular interest in languages and literature, physics and philosophy. Having done his military service, he studied languages, literature, and psychology at Göteborg University and obtained a doctorate in Scandinavian Philology in 1965.

On the basis of experience since 1961, he developed methods and theoretical issues in the field of natural-language processing, specializing in corpus linguistics and lexicology with a focus on Swedish. In 1972, he was appointed Professor of Computational Linguistics and stationed at Göteborg University. This was considered to be the first chair of its kind in the world. In these years, he founded the Department of Computational Linguistics (known as Språkdata) and the Language Bank of Swedish. He was the Pro-Rector of his university from 1980 to 1986 and its Rector in 1982.

In 1980, he was elected One of the Eighteen in the Swedish Academy. The task of the Academy, founded by King Gustaf III in 1786, is to promote the Swedish language and Swedish literature, which is done by carrying out research projects, editing books, awarding prizes, making grants, organizing symposia, etc. The Academy is also in charge of the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1986, his fellow academicians elected him Permanent Secretary of the Academy, i. e. Executive Officer. He remained in this capacity until 1999 and, thus, had the pleasure and privilege to introduce thirteen Nobel Laureates, from Wole Soyinka to José Saramago.

He is a member of some other academies in Sweden, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Lettres, the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, the Icelandic Society of Sciences, and the Academia Europeae. In 1988, he received an honorary doctor’s degree from the Swedish University of Åbo, Finland. He is the recipient of H. M. the King’s Medal in the Ribbon of the Order of the Seraphim for Eminent Scientific and Cultural Achievements, the Medal as Knight Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, the Medal as Knight of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, the Göteborg City Medal of Merit in Gold, and the Chalmers Medal for valuable contributions to the activity and development of Chalmers Technical University. He has been awarded the Erik Wellander Prize, the Chester Carlson Research Prize, and the Margit Påhlson Linguistic Prize of the Swedish Academy.

Some of his book titles are ”Graphemic Analysis as a Basis for Text Editing”, ”Frequency Dictionary of Present-Day Swedish”, ”Linguistic Data Processing”, ”A Dictionary of Swedish”, ”Mother Tongue in Fatherland. A Selection of Papers in the Course of Forty Years. Festschrift”, and “The Nobel Prize in Literature. An Introduction”. He is also the editor of a number of proceedings of Nobel Symposia, among them ”Text Processing”, ”Possible Worlds in Humanities, Arts and Sciences”, ”Of Thoughts and Words”, and ”Translation of Poetry and Poetic Prose”.

He has served on the Board of Directors of the Nobel Foundation, the Scientific Board of the Swedish National Encyclopaedia, the Board of Directors of the Chalmers Institute of Technology Foundation, the Board of Directors of the International Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing, and the Assessment Panel of the Eurotra Machine Translation Programme. Since 1984 he is Chairman of the Swedish Society for Belles-Lettres. He has often participated in linguistic and literary programmes on TV and radio. It is obvious that reading and writing are incessant occupations. But there is room for music and sports, necessarily.

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