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Håkon Melberg

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Melberg, Håkon (1911–1990), writer, Norway.


biography by Ivar J. Fylling

Håkon Melberg was academically trained, but his vita can be difficult to obtain, since he left the university without obtaining a formal degree as far as I know, and he has not been admitted into any lexical works. Below I'm presenting a summary based on information I have received from his wife, Anne Kari Melberg.

He was born in Halden Jan 1, 1911, graduated from Halden Latinskole 1930 with top grades. Then he studied languages and language science at Oslo University for 6 or 7 years. He knew 42 languages and could communicate in an additional 20. Attestation from two of his teachers, and from L.L. Hammerich, the only one that has published critical comments to Melberg's work: From Professor Dr. Sten Konow, Oslo University, Dec 23, 1937 (extract):

"... 1931 - 1936 Håkon Melberg attended my lectures and classes in Sanskrit, Avestan, "Tokharian", and a short time also in Saka... He always gave proofs of a clear and unbiased understanding and a great faculty of seeing the problems and not leaving them before they had been mastered. He has acquired a good knowledge of (list of languages), and I know that his knowledge of Irish is far beyond the average. I am absolutely confident that he will be able to make important contributions to our understanding of those linguistic and philological problems to which he will devote his great energy and solid training".

Dr Sten Konow (signed)

From Professor Dr. C. Marstrander, Oslo University, Dec 18, 1937 (unauthorised translation from Norwegian):

"Håkon Melberg has for deveral years been studying Celtic languages and Comparative linguistics (? Sammenlignende sprogvidenskap) with me at the University in Oslo. Some years ago he received a Royal gold medal for a scientific work.*) He is one of the most promising young linguists we have had at the university during the last 30 years (? den siste menneskealder). All who have learned to know him deeply regret that he is leaving the university. I can no better recommendation give him."

C. Marstrander (sign)

*) This was for a treatise titled 'Genitivus qualitatis en Latin et des langues Indo-europeennes', 1932

From Professor Dr. L.L. Hammerich, President i Det Kgl. Danske Videnskabers Selskab, København, May 23, 1953 (Extract, unauthorised translation from Danish):

"Mr. Håkon Melberg is a scientist with exceptionally (?særdeles) good knowledge of Celtic and old German philology, and in the Scandinavian and other German peoples' elder history. He is also a man rich on ideas and with a gift for comprehensive methodical work. That I, even on essential points, not always agree with him, does not shake (?rokke) this evaluation. He will no doubt also sometimes disagree with me. ..."

L.L.Hammerich (signed)

Håkon Melberg was given a scholarship to study modern English in London (recruitment for professorate in English?), wrote the novel 'Solen går aldri ned', 1938. http://wgate.bibsys.no/gate1/SHOW?objd=94232210x

Then he got research funding from NAVF to study Celtic languages, and he stayed in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Bretagne for long periods. To support a rather meagre economy and to encourage the work with Celtic languages, Lord Glenantar and the Earl of Bute gave him a sum of money that he did not use himself, but handed over to Oslo University in support of a Celtic institute (department) there.

During the war, Håkon Melberg was one of the leaders of XU-Pan, a spy organisation collecting secret German information and transmitting it to London. This work is described in the book 'Dobbeltspill - Nazilensmannen som lurte tyskerne', 1988, by T. Brynildsen and H. Melberg. http://wgate.bibsys.no/gate1/SHOW?objd=884200337

In Sept. 1945 he presented the first version of his hypothesis on the origin of the Scandinavian nations to the Norwegian Science Academy in Oslo. It was met with silence. A year later it was presented to the Danish Science Academy in Copenhagen where it caused animated discussions.

Due to misunderstandings and need for background information that became apparent during these discussions, Melberg decided to present his work complete, with all the information required to evaluate the hypothesis. The outcome was the two-volume work 'Origin of the Scandinavian Nations and Languages' , 1953. http://wgate.bibsys.no/gate1/SHOW?objd=921271042

After this Melberg continued his work with Celtic languages for some years. The rest of his active life he spent on work with and for children in Halden. From 1945 he and his wife ran an activity center for children: Barnas hus with Barnas scene, Barnas galleri, Barnas tiltak. He wrote the text for an opera for children, 'Nattmannens barn', presented first in 1960. Some of this is described in http://wgate.bibsys.no/gate1/FIND?FO=melberg,+anne+kari

Håkon Melberg died November 1990.

This was just a brief summary to show that Håkon Melberg was a top qualified scientist, and he was a lot more. I look forward to someone writing his biography!

Ivar J. Fylling

Find other Nordic Authors named Melberg, others born in 1911 or deceased in 1990.
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