Honoring Norwegian Linguist Kjell Aartun

The First On the Trail 

(June 24, 2023) Kjell Aartun was a Norwegian linguist who seems to have been the first to realize that some sort connection existed between the writing of the Near East and runic inscriptions.  But before the development of historical genetics he naturally thought Minoan traders were the ones who brought the language and writing idea to Scandinavia via the riverine trade routes. He also never did make the specific connection to the Akkadian language and so was unable to translate the texts.

Unfortunately, he wrote only in Norwegian which is a language I don't read and neither do most other English speakers. Hence his work in essentially unknown except to his fellow Norwegians.

Wikipedia Article

Kjell Aartun (born 6 July 1925) is a Norwegian theologian and linguist. He is considered a leading expert on Semitic languages, particularly the Ugaritic language. He is also known for several controversial theories on runic interpretation and the origin of Minoan civilization. Aartun received a government scholarship (statsstipendiat) in 1983 and received HM The King's Medal of Merit in Gold for his scientific work in 2001. He has been a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters since 1986. He was born in Sjernarøy. 

Aartun obtained the Cand.theol. degree in 1954, and an additional degree in Greek in 1956. He was a Research Fellow from 1956 to 1961 and a Research Fellow/Lecturer from 1962 to 1965. Aartun was Research Fellow in West Berlin from 1965 to 1968, and Lecturer/Associate Professor at Stavanger lærerhøgskole from 1968 to 1992. He was also a Docent in Jerusalem in 1971, director of the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem in 1974 and Docent of Semitic Languages at Lund University from 1976 until 1978. He obtained the dr. philos. degree in 1978, with a dissertation on the Ugaritic language in two volumes titled Die Partikeln des Ugaritischen (Kevelaer, 1974/1978).

In his extensive two-volume work on Minoan civilization, Die Minoische Schrift (Harrassowitz Verlag, 1992/1997), Aartun asserts that the ancient Minoan culture was Semitic. His book Runer i kulturhistorisk sammenheng (Pax Forlag, 1994) asserts that Runic inscriptions found in Scandinavia were written in a Semitic language. These publications have made him a controversial figure among both non-linguists and mainstream linguists since the early 1990s, with critics accusing him of producing pseudoscience.

His autobiography, Et forskerliv i Janteland ("A Researchers Life in the Country of Jante"), was published in 2004.

He is the grandfather of singer-songwriter Susanne Sundfør. She dedicated her sixth studio album Blómi to Aartun, incorporating excerpts of his works in the lyrics.


Selected publications

This insightful poem to music is one of her songs on her dedication album. Balance, connection, and black holes oh my. 
Don't forget to check out her other incredable songs at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCBXB6NAswUmh5seRzS2wVg

Grandaughter Susanne Sundfør's Album Dedicated To Her Grandfather Kjell Aartun.

Blómi, Susanne Sundfør’s sixth studio LP and first since 2017’s Music for People in Trouble, takes its name from the Norse word meaning “to bloom.” At its heart – and there’s a lot of it – lies an openness to the interconnected beauty of nature, which the Norwegian singer-songwriter explores in part by celebrating her own roots and legacy. The album was inspired by the birth of her daughter in 2020, and it is also dedicated to her grandfather, Kjell Aartun, a linguist who specialized in Semitic languages.