Research at the School of Languages and Translation Studies
The School of Languages and Translation Studies is an expert organisation whose members specialise in multidisciplinary research on language systems, the present and past phenomena of individual languages and the general features of human language. Our researchers participate in the various thematic collaborations of the University of Turku: digital futures, cultural memory and social change, and children, young people and learning.
Our key research areas include
- digital linguistics
- philology, the history of learning, book history
- linguistic interaction and discourse
- changes in language and writing during periods of cultural transition
- language learning and education
- syntax and lexis
- variation in written and spoken language
- translation studies
- multilingualism and language contacts
- modern literature, especially postcolonial literary studies
Research Units and Networks
The Research Unit for Volgaic Languages operates under the department of Finnish Language and Finno-Ugric Languages at the University of Turku. The research unit was initially established as a temporary project in 1993 and it became a permanent institution in 2000.
The Digin research network promotes research on different aspects of digitality as well as in the digital humanities. The network is multidisciplinary and brings together researchers from such areas as language studies, history, media studies, social sciences, computer science and law. We explore digitality and its aspects from various perspectives. For instance, interaction, communication, media and culture in a digital context all feature characteristics that make them different from their non-digital counterparts. In particular, digitality has affected how research materials and data are conceived in the humanities and social sciences. These new kinds of datasets offer novel opportunities while also presenting challenges, as their analysis requires new methods and tools.
The Research Network for Translation, Technology and Translated Literature was founded in January 2019. The work done within our research community focuses on professional translation, translation technology and translated literature, as well the intersections of related phenomena, such as professionalization in translation and the relationship between technology and literary translation throughout history. Our research concerns contemporary translation, as well as translation history and the future of translation. Our aim is to influence tomorrow’s translation practices through research, translator training and public communication.
To know who we are, we need to know where we come from. Knowing the history of translation forms a basis for understanding translation today, and current phenomena such as fan translation or technological changes are linked with translation practices of the past. Long-standing research topics also include the societal and cultural role of translation, financial aspects of translation services and literary translation, and professionalism in translation.
Our main research topics are:
- translated literature (both fiction and non-fiction)
- Finnish translation history
- machine translation and translation technology
- translator training
- translation ethics
- translation theory
- language contact
- audiovisual translation
Director and contact person: Kristiina Taivalkoski-Shilov
The Centre for Language Learning Research (Leala) conducts multidisciplinary research, utilises a broad range of data sets and applies various research methods. The research conducted at Leala focuses on second/foreign language learning in particular. Researchers at the Centre come from different departments at the School of Languages and Translation Studies (English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Scandinavian languages and Spanish). Our research also belongs to the University of Turku’s thematic research profile “Children, young people and learning”.
Contact: Minna Maijala, minmai_@_utu.fi
The Centre for the Study of Language and Wellbeing LaWe aims to support, advance and promote research that focuses on the interconnection between wellbeing and language. In addition, the Centre intends to enhance the application of this kind of research in ways that serve and improve our societies. We approach wellbeing in a broad sense; in our view, the relevance of language and interaction for wellbeing can be witnessed for example in the role that language and interaction plays in identity formation, health, schooling, culture and diversity, social relationships, social participation, access to goods, resources and power, and the relationship between a society and its environment. The Centre is multidisciplinary and has an open policy regarding its databases and methods.
Contact person: Jenny Paananen
Since 2013, the network for code-switching and language contact research has brought together researchers from across the university who work on topics related to multilingual practices, language contact phenomena past and present and contact linguistics in general. Particular attention is paid to written manifestations of language contact. Many of the network's members work on code-switching – the use of two or more languages in the same communicative situation – as evidenced in older texts, but other topics and approaches are also welcome. The network organises seminars in which the researchers share ideas, present work in progress and plan future research activities, and provides a community for scholars who work at different departments.
> Contact person: Janne Skaffari
The Multilingual Turku (MTurku) network brings together researchers and students who are interested in the multilingual practices that occur in Turku and its surrounding regions in Southwest Finland. Our aim is to produce research-based knowledge on the linguistic landscapes of Turku, from the Middle Ages to the present day, and to communicate that knowledge in scholarly and popular publications. We arrange events and seminars, and we collaborate actively in the research and teaching that are conducted within the local public sector. The themes that are addressed by the researchers who are associated with MTurku include
- the languages spoken and written in the Turku region at different times and in various contexts
- multilingualism, multiculturalism and migration
- choice and the use of language by individuals, communities and institutions
- language contacts and conflicts, contact-induced variation and change
- crossing linguistic borders, translation and interpreting
- forgotten, lost or invisible languages
- language teaching, learning and acquisition
- names, linguistic landscapes, language ideologies and attitudes
Contact persons: Leena Kolehmainen, Mari-Liisa Varila, Matti Peikola, Paula Sjöblom, Janne Skaffari
The language departments of the University of Turku have a long tradition in compiling specialised digital linguistic corpora, and these corpora already have a dedicated base of domestic and international users who represent various special fields.
The Digilang project (2018–2021) focuses on the further development of these digital databases and corpora and aims to improve their usability, accessibility and visibility by collecting them under the brand new Digilang Portal, which will become a permanent and integral part of the research infrastructure of the School of Languages and Translation Studies (SLT). This, in turn, will help strengthen the brand of the University of Turku and the SLT as a developer of digital linguistic corpora.
The following corpora are currently under development in the Digilang project:
- Linguistic Variation in the Province of Satakunta in the 21st Century
- Regional and Social Variation in Finnish Prosody
- Fennougristic corpora
- The Corpora of Academic Finnish
- Universal Parsebanks
- The LOG Corpus
Contact person: Tommi Kurki
A typical way of referencing time is to represent it as metaphorical motion. Languages often refer to time as either an object that is moving from the future towards the present and then away to the past (the MOVING TIME metaphor, e.g. Christmas is coming) or as a path that we move along from the past towards the future (the MOVING EGO metaphor, e.g. We are approaching Christmas). In this study, we focus on the qualitative aspects of temporal expressions in Finnish and, to a lesser extent, Russian. We do not take it for granted that time is uniform or that any movements in time are always perceived in a qualitatively similar manner. Our interest is directed towards the different ways of moving in time (or the motion of time) and on the methods for representing time as a path for the metaphorical motion of different entities. The project involves autonomous linguistic studies, the psycholinguistic testing of our hypotheses, and multimodal connections of language and attention.
The project is funded by the Academy of Finland (2015–2020). It forms a research consortium, and the principal investigator of the project is Professor Tuomas Huumo.
Suomalais-ugrilaisen kielentutkimuksen linja tekee yhteistyötä marin, mordvan ja udmurtin kielten syntyperäisten tutkijoiden ja heidän taustayhteisöjensä, yliopistojen ja tutkimuslaitosten kanssa.
Opetuksen alalla Turun yliopiston suomalais-ugrilainen kielentutkimus osallistuu yhdeksän Euroopan unionin yliopiston (Turku, Tartto, Budapest, Szeged, Wien, München, Hampuri, Uppsala, Helsinki) laitosten opetusverkostoon Community of Practice in Uralic Studies (COPIUS) 2018–2021.
The focus of the project is on translation and interpreting in the context of minority languages and endangered languages, a perspective seldom chosen in the field of research on translation and interpreting. The project produces new empirical and theoretical knowledge about the functions of translation and interpreting in minority and endangered linguistic communities and on how translation is carried out in such environments. The multilingual team of researches at the University of Turku and University of Eastern Finland includes members who focus on German, Finnish, Karelian, Russian and Basque language.
"The unexplored contexts of language contact: translation and interpretation” (2015–2018) is a research project funded by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation. The project leadership resides currently with the Department of German.
For more information: Leena Kolehmainen
The multinational LALI project aims to support the social and linguistic integration of immigrants by teaching them the local language and literacy through art. In addition to teaching the local language, the project focuses on creating online resources for teachers and other professionals who are involved in supporting the immigrant integration process.
The outcome of the project is a freely available set of different products and teaching kits in four languages: Finnish, English, French and German. During the project, research material on multimodal interactions will also be collected. At the University of Turku, both schools of the Faculty of Humanities are participating in the project.
Project leader in Turku: Maarit Mutta
Funding and period: ERASMUS+, 2017–2020
International partners (LALI):
Élan interculturel (project coordinator, Paris, France)
De l’Art et D’autre (Paris, France)
Stand 129 (Vienna, Austria)
The Institute of Informatics and Economics, University of Sopron (Hungary)
Other main collaborators:
Turku Art Museum
The City of Turku (Integration services)
This research programme compares similar types of interactions in similar environments in Sweden and Finland with a special emphasis on the service, education and healthcare sectors, where much of the interaction outside the private domain takes place. An important part of the programme is to contribute to the international development of theories for the study of pluricentric languages. With the help of different theories and methods, such as conversation analysis and the ethnography of communication, the programme will be able to describe and explain pluricentric language phenomena that previous research efforts have not been able to identify. In this way, the programme contributes to the development of the field of variational pragmatics while also generating new insights into the unique patterns of Finland Swedish and Sweden Swedish conversations.
The programme is coordinated by Stockholm University and includes the University of Helsinki, the University of Turku and the Institute for Language and Folklore, Gothenburg.
Project leaders: Camilla Wide (Turku), Catrin Norrby (Stockholm), Jan Lindström (Helsinki) and Jenny Nilsson (Gothenburg)
Funding: Riksbankens jubileumsfond, 2013–2020
The project aims to produce a morphosyntactically annotated corpus of everyday Finnish-language conversations in order to facilitate grammatical research that is based on a large corpus of everyday interactions. The corpus enables the comparative research of morphosyntactic phenomena in conversational data and other types of language use. The project promotes the availability and accessibility of language corpora.
The project is funded by the Kone Foundation (2013–2019) as part of their language programme. The project has received additional funding from the Turku University Foundation and the FIN-CLARIN consortium.
The principal investigator of the project is Marja-Liisa Helasvuo.
A collaborative project with the Department of Future Technologies at the University of Turku
The objective of the project is to turn the Finnish internet into a big language data resource that will be as freely available as possible. Due to its size and linguistic variation, the collection offers novel possibilities for both linguistics and natural language processing. To ensure its usability, the collection will be tagged with automatic syntactic analysis, and it will be accessible through a user interface.
Funding and period: Kone Foundation 2013-2017
Project leaders: Veronika Laippala, Filip Ginter
The project combines linguistics, natural language processing and machine learning in order to analyse and automatically detect the different text varieties that are used on the internet. By distinguishing between e.g. user manuals, news articles on recent events and texts that also feature the author’s opinion, the project reveals crucial information on language use on the internet and improves the accessibility of the massive amount of information available online. As a practical outcome, the project detects the different text varieties used in a collection of billions of words of online texts written in Finnish, Swedish, French and English that were compiled by the research group during previous research efforts. This has significantly improved the usability of the collections.
Funding and period: Emil Aaltonen Foundation 2019-2021
Project leader: Veronika Laippala
The project studies what kinds of formulaic sequences are used and how they can be identified in three morphologically different languages (Swedish, Finnish and English). A formulaic sequence is a sequence of two or more morphemes or words (e.g. “enligt min åsikt”, “mielestäni”, “in my opinion”) that a language learner learns as an unanalysed whole and also stores in their memory as a single whole. The present understanding is that these sequences play an important role in the learning of both vocabulary and grammatical structures, and this is why they have been studied extensively around the world, though mainly in L2 English. This project focuses on the two domestic languages of Finland, Finnish and Swedish. The hypothesis is that the different morphological structures of the studied languages affect the recognition and occurrences of the unanalysed wholes among learners.
Project leader and researcher: Sinikka Lahtinen
Funding: Svenska kulturfonden 2017–2019
- Social media from Nordic to global contexts (SoNoGlo) (2016-2018)
- Fennougristiikan kv. verkosto (2016–2018)
- Täsmäopetusta edistyneille suomenoppijoille (Koneen Säätiö, 2016–2018)
- Kielen ja vuorovaikutuksen yksiköt (Suomen Akatemia, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2014–2017)
- Out of the Ordinary: Challenging Commonplace Concepts in Anglophone Literature (Suomen Akatemia, 2014–2017)
- Online Udmurt–Finnish–Udmurt dictionary (Koneen Säätiö, 2015–2016)
- Suomen kielen prosodian alueellinen ja sosiaalinen variaatio (Koneen Säätiö, 2013–2015)
- Subjektin ilmaiseminen suomessa ja muissa itämerensuomalaisissa kielissä (Suomen Akatemia, 2011–2014)
- TIME: Translation Research Training. An Integrated and Intersectoral Model for Europe (Euroopan komissio, 2011–2014)
- OPTIMALE: Optimising Professional Translator Training in a Multilingual Europe (Euroopan komissio, 2011–2013)
- Language learning and social media: 6 key languages (Euroopan komissio, 2010–2012)
- Westhin koodeksi (Suomen Kulttuurirahasto, 2010–2012)
- Subtitles and language learning, Lifelong Learning programme (Euroopan komissio, 2009–2012)
- Silence as Voice: Reempowering the disempowered in contemporary English literatures (Suomen Akatemia, 2008–2011)
- På väg mot kommunikativ kompetens: tillägnandet av svenskans struktur hos finska inlärare (Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 2007–2010)