Photo: Private, Syn og Segn 4/2000 Photo: Dobbeltspill, Valdisholm 1988
Interrogation of German prisoners-of-war,
Håkon Melberg, 1911 – 1990, was a Norwegian linguist. His vita can be difficult to obtain, since he left the University of Oslo without obtaining a formal degree as far as I know, and he was not mentioned in any lexical works until 2002, in "The Nordic Languages - An International Handbook of the History of the North Germanic Languages", Bandle, O., Jahr, E. H. ed. 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 1930with top grades. Then he studied
languages and language science at
From Professor Dr. Sten
'.. 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
Dr Sten Konow (signed)
From Professor Dr. C.
(unauthorised translation from Norwegian):
'Håkon Melberg has for
several years been studying Celtic languages and Comparative linguistics (?
Sammenlignende sprogvidenskap) with me at the University in
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 (signed)
*) 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. ...'
Melberg was given a scholarship to study modern English in London, as
recruitment for the professorate in English at the University in Oslo after
Trampe Bødtker. He wrote the novel
'Solen går aldri ned', printed 1938. This novel contains the description
of a self experienced hunger episode. To support a rather meagre economy in
1936 he worked as house teacher for the daughter of Thomas Coats, 2nd Baron
of Glentanar in
During the war, Håkon Melberg was one of the leaders of XU-Pan, a spy organisation collecting secret German information and transmitting it to
During the first war years,
1940-43, Håkon assisted as jiu jitsu instructor (or zyuzyutu, soft zyudo) at
his brother's, Sam Melberg's training institute in
In Sept. 1945 he presented
the first version of his hypothesis on the origin of the Scandinavian nations
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 ’Barnas hus – Barnas gåtefulle verden’ by Anne-Kari Melberg, Ask Forlag, Halden,1995
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!