Dr. Elisabeth Piirainen, née Dörrie

Autobiographical notes

Born: 12 January 1943 in Hannover, Germany.

Parents: Dr. Annemarie Dörrie and Professor Dr. Heinrich Dörrie.

Education: Grammar school (with bias on Latin and Greek).

University studies: since 1963 at the universities of Münster/Westphalia, Amsterdam and Helsinki: German and Dutch philology, linguistics (focus on language history, dialectology and Indo-European studies).

PhD: 1970 at the University of Münster (PhD thesis on an etymological topic, see monograph 1971).

Marital status: since 1967 married to the Finnish scholar, professor of German language, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ilpo Tapani Piirainen (died in 2012); three children.

Professional activities

Since 1970: foreign language assistant for German at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland (lector of DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service).


Since 1975: in charge of various projects related to Low German philology: 

  • research project on microtoponymy (see Flurnamen in Vreden, 2 volumes, monograph 1984); 
  • head of a large-scale project on the lexis of a Low German dialect, which resulted in a comprehensive dialect dictionary (Wörterbuch der westmünsterländischen Mundart monograph 1992), later also in the two-volume study Phraseologie der westmünsterländischen Mundart (monograph 2000) and various articles on idioms of Low German dialects (cf. monograph 2016b).

Since 1993: independent researcher: active scholar in phraseology, figurative language and lesser-used languages.


Recent projects: “Widespread idiomatic and formulaic constructions” and “Lesser-used languages: Idioms, proverbs, figurative and formulaic units”.

Contact InformatioN

Dr. Elisabeth Piirainen

Steinfurt, Germany

Email: elisabeth.piirainen(at)outlook.com