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; children, young people and learning; health, diagnostics and drug development; sea and maritime studies.
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
The School of Languages and Translation Studies hosts the UTU-Digilang infrastructure, which is a collection of digital corpora and digital tools developed within the School and the Department of Computing.
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.
Contact person: Veronika Laippala
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
Working group: Maarit Koponen, Outi Paloposki, Leena Salmi ja 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 aim of the FI-DACH research network, established in 2019, is to deepen and expand research and knowledge of cultural relations between Finland (FI) and German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland = DACH). The network brings together researchers of Finnish and German language and culture as well as translation scholars from the universities of Turku, Graz, Greifswald and Cologne. The aim of the research network is to support the study of German and Finnish language and further scientific doctoral education.
Contact person: professor Leena Kolehmainen
The TurkuNLP Group is a group of researchers at the University of Turku as well as the UTU graduate school (UTUGS). The main focus of our research are various aspects of natural language processing / language technology and digital linguistics, ranging from corpus annotation and analysis to machine learning theory and applications. The main application areas we've been focusing on is the domain of biological, biomedical, and clinical text, as well as methods and resources for syntactic and semantic analysis of Finnish and the modeling of web-based language use based on registers or genres.
See more: turkunlp.org/
Contact: Veronika Laippala
The joint project of Finnish universities, Circular Economy Catalysts: From Innovation to Business Ecosystems (CICAT2025) aims to facilitate the transition from linear to circular economy. The multidisciplinary consortium is led by professor Leena Aarikka-Stenroos in Tampere University, and besides Tampere University, the consortium consist of University of Turku, University of Jyväskylä, University of Eastern Finland, Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Turku University of Applied Sciences. The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland, and it is carried out in 2019–2023. The project seeks to identify catalysts that advance the transition, and it searches solutions for companies and regulators to support the transition. One of the catalysts is language which is studied in the University of Turku by senior researchers Paula Sjöblom and Ville Virsu.
More information: https://cicat2025.turkuamk.fi/en/.
The project explores the transnational dimensions of national thought in the Enlightenment period by tracing the trajectory of Von dem Nationalstolze, a substantial essay on the sentiment of national pride written by the Swiss physician Johann Georg Zimmermann (1728–1795). By tracing the essay’s circulation, transformation, and reception in the press, the research aims to show how and why Zimmermann’s translators and reviewers furnished his essay with new meanings. Starting from the premise that the phenomenon of nation-building cannot be understood without historicizing it, the research turns to the methods of translation studies, which enable it to transcend national as well as cultural and linguistic borders.
Researcher: Laura Tarkka
Project funding: Academy of Finland 2021–2024
CORDIALIS is a multinational ERASMUS+ -project, that aims to produce pedagogical materials and tools for hybrid teaching and interaction. In addition, the project aims to connect actors from different fields around local languages and cultures. The target group consists of current and future language teachers, adult educators, local artisans, and cultural field professionals (e.g., media librarians and museum staff).
The effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on citizen’s needs for digital tools in education and in many different professional and cultural fields, will be researched during the project. Based on the results, pedagogical practices and solutions for virtual exchange will be brought forward. The project produces freely available teaching materials, such as manuals, exercises, podcasts, and videos in five different languages (English, Italian, Lithuanian, French and Finnish). Additional information about the project can be found on the website.
Person in charge of the project (SLTS): Maarit Mutta
Funder: ERASMUS+ KA220-ADU-Cooperation partnership in adult education Grant number 2021-1-FR01-KA220-ADU-000033544), 2022–2024
- University of Turku/ The school of Languages and Translation Studies (SLT)
- De l’art et d’autre (France, Paris)
- Lietuvos Kaimo Turizmo Asociacija (Lithuania, Kaunas)
- Web per tutti (Italy, Sulmona)
Main local partners in Turku:
This project investigates the use of graphic devices (such as tables and diagrams) in early modern English printed books in order to shed light on the development of vernacular graphic literacies and early strategies of data visualisation. We will 1) map the distribution of different types of graphic devices in different kinds of books and develop a new framework for their classification; 2) determine how target audience and topic influence the use of graphic devices; and 3) establish how linguistic information and graphic devices work together in the context of the page and the whole book, for example through captions and reader instruction. Our findings will reveal what kinds of graphic literacies were associated with graphic devices and how these literacies developed in 1473–1800 – a period characterized by a rapid increase in literacy and a diversification of readers. Our results also contribute to the history of graphic representation of information in books targeted at vernacular readers and elucidate the role of graphic devices in the transmission of knowledge.
Project leader: Matti Peikola
Funding: Academy of Finland 2021–25
More information: project website
Ethical and sustainable language teaching, funded by the Kone Foundation, is a four-year project launched in the School of Languages and Translation Studies at the University of Turku, Finland in January 2021. The cornerstone of the project lies in the question of how the principles of ethics and sustainability can be promoted in language teaching and pre-service teacher education.
Taking into account the aspects of sustainable development and language equality is challenging not only in language teaching but also in pre-service language teacher education. The purpose of the project is to research the essence of ethics and sustainable development principles and how they can be promoted in language teaching and pre-service language teacher education. Based on this research, we will develop engaging learning activities for language learners and pedagogic solutions for pre-service teachers and teachers, which promote ethical conduct, sustainable development and language equality.
Project director: Minna Maijala, minna.maijala(at)utu.fi
EKKO Team: Leena Maria Heikkola, Salla-Riikka Kuusalu, Päivi Laine, Maarit Mutta, Katja Mäntylä, Judi Rose, and Veijo Vaakanainen
More information: https://sites.utu.fi/ekko/en/
Project funding: Kone Foundation 2021–2024
This project examines the impact of individual speaking style in L1 (first language) and cross-linguistic differences (transfer) on second language (L2) speech. More specifically, we examine Swedish-speaking university students’ fluency in their L1 and its effect on L2 speech fluency. In the project, speech samples from a comparison group of L1 Finnish speakers are also collected to examine fluency across several languages in the participants’ repertoire (L2 Swedish and English). The L1s examined in the project are thus Swedish and Finnish, and the target languages are Finnish, Swedish, and English. In the project, we will therefore be able to compare multilingual speakers’ spoken language features across different target languages and L1s. The results will contribute to the teaching and assessment Swedish as a second language and L1 Swedish speakers’ learning of additional languages.
Project Leader: Pekka Lintunen
Funding: The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland 2020-2023
For more information: https://sites.utu.fi/flowlang/en/projects/multifluency/
The project focuses on fluency and disfluency in second language speech. Our approach combines methods from the fields of second language acquisition research and psycholinguistics and employs a varied data set (including cognitive experiments, speech samples, and questionnaire data) to scrutinize second language fluency and factors affecting it. Our FlowLang research group includes researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, and our aim is to reconceptualize fluency to provide a new framework for future studies.
The emphasis is on examining the effect of task types (monologue, dialogue) and individual speaker characteristics (cognitive processes, experienced level of anxiety, and first language fluency) on second language fluency and disfluency. The results benefit second language learning and teaching, language assessment as well as the development of digital second language learning applications.
Project Leader: Pekka Lintunen
Funding: Academy of Finland 2020-2024
For more information: https://sites.utu.fi/flowlang/en/
In this project, we compare folk traditions from Swedish- and Finnish-speaking communities in Finland’s bilingual coastal regions. The emphasis is on interaction: how people communicate with and about supernatural forces. We examine different types of material: belief legends and folk poems that tell of encounters with supernatural beings and about the actions of ritual specialists, charms and magical symbols and other types of folk epigraphic practice.
The approach is functional: what purposes do these types of communication serve in the community? The project also incorporates source criticism and history of scholarship. Although Finnish and Swedish speakers have lived side by side for centuries, Swedish and Finnish-language folk traditions have generally been collected, archived, and studied separately. This project highlights affinities and contemplates to what extent it is possible to speak of a common tradition that is expressed in different languages.
Project leader: Kendra Willson
Funding agency: The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland 2019–2022
This project combines the long traditions of corpus linguistics and the latest innovations of natural language processing (NLP) to explore web registers—situationally defined Internet text varieties such as news, blogs or how-to pages—on a massively multilingual scale. Specifically, the project
- analyzes language-specific differences of registers and creates a data-driven description of the full range of web registers in six languages,
- develops machine learning methods for large-scale register modeling and identification in massively cross/multi-lingual settings, and
- automatically identifies registers in Universal Parsebanks, a language resource spanning 100 billion words and 64 languages.
Thereby, the project provides critical knowledge about online communication and tools with which to develop web data from simple masses of raw text toward organized resources with rich metadata.
Researcher: Veronika Laippala
Funding: Academy of Finland 2020—2024
KISUVI research, funded by Kone Foundation, is a four-year project launched in the School of Languages and Translation Studies at the University of Turku, Finland in January 2022. The project focuses on the study of writing fluency in first and foreign languages, in particular on the use of formulaic sequences.
This mixed-method project uses the graph theory-based keystroke logging software GGXLog, whose visualisation functions provide a new approach to the analysis of writing processes. It also allows a more precise definition of formulaic sequences in languages belonging to different typological families. The results of the project will contribute to the knowledge on the development and fluency of multilingual writers. The results will help educators and policy makers to design and develop teacher training and modern digital learning materials.
Project director: Maarit Mutta, maarit.mutta(at)utu.fi
KISUVI Team: Sinikka Lahtinen, Päivi Laine, Mari Mäkilä, Katja Mäntylä, Outi Toropainen, Anne-Maj Åberg
Project funding: Kone Foundation 2022—2025
A sharp crystallization or a flat triviality? Municipality slogans from the viewpoint of linguistics and marketing is a research project, the purpose of which is to investigate the linguistic features in the slogans of Finnish municipalities and to find out how slogans are utilized as part of city-brand communication. This multidisciplinary project started in the University of Turku in October 2020, and it is funded by the Foundation for Municipal Development. The project group consists of four researchers from the universities of Turku and Helsinki. The leader is senior lecturer Ulla Hakala from Turku School of Economics, and the School of Languages and Translation Studies is represented in the project by senior lecturer Paula Sjöblom.
The web pages of the project (in Finnish and in Swedish): https://sites.utu.fi/kuntasloganit/fi/.
Narrative Text, Translator and Machine: In Search of User-Friendly Translation Technology for Literary Texts is a multidisciplinary research project combining translation studies, literary studies, and language and translation technology funded by the Academy of Finland. The project aims to increase knowledge on phenomena that are closely linked to literary texts, translating them, and utilizing translation technology in literary translation.
The project studies narrativity and its modelling, literary characteristics and problems in their translation, the working methods and technological needs of literary translators, and ethical challenges such as copyright issues and sustainable development that are connected with using translation technology in literary translation.
The project also aims to apply the accumulated data in practice. We will develop a prototype for a translation technology application that helps human translators with professionally translating literary texts from English into Finnish. During the later stages of the project, the prototype is further developed with a usability study.
Project funding: Academy of Finland 2022–
The project started on 1 Sept 2022.
The project’s principal investigator is professor Kristiina Taivalkoski-Shilov.
For more information see https://sites.utu.fi/littra/en/
REMODUS – The (Re-)Making of a Discipline: Digital Transformation and Internationalisation in and Beyond Uralic Studies is part of the KA220-HED Cooperation partnerships in higher education programme. It is being funded for three years (from 1 December 2021 to 30 September 2024) by the EU Erasmus+ Programme.
REMODUS is a network of ten European universities with a department or institute of Uralic (Finno-Ugric) Studies. Our field covers both European nation-state languages (Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian) and a broad spectrum of endangered (minority) languages spoken in diverse multilingual communities. Members of the network are: the University of Turku and the University of Helsinki (Finland), Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the University of Hamburg (Germany), Uppsala University (Sweden), the University of Tartu (Estonia), the University of Vienna (coordinator, Austria), Eötvös Loránd University – Budapest and the University of Szeged (Hungary), and the University of Latvia (Latvia).
Our aim is to present our discipline, Uralic studies, as a model for digital transformation, cross- integration, and the internationalisation of a low-volume discipline covering a vast thematic range. In other words, a discipline where few institutions with highly specialised scholars are responsible for a broad range of European languages and cultures. In the process, we want to facilitate the exchange of knowledge within and beyond the traditional boundaries and limitations of academic infrastructures.
Our target groups are students/teachers from Uralic studies and students/teachers from similar disciplines. We organise winter schools and e-learning courses on topics that are not frequently found or taught elsewhere. Together, the universities involved offer a pool of expertise concerning Uralic Studies.
For more information, see: https://remodus.univie.ac.at/
Romancing the Caribbean studies the conjuncture of sea and sexuality in Caribbean literature and culture in an effort to generate more ecologically sustainable views on both Caribbean seascapes (such as the tourism and cruise ship industries) and sexualities (such as erotic romance literature and sex as a commodity). Through an eclectic corpus of Caribbean women’s writing and popular romance fiction set in the Caribbean, the project focuses on the affective, emotional and gendered nature of the ways in which the literary market has romanced the Caribbean and its seas in recent years.
Framing the phenomenon of Caribbean as a historical, cultural and geographical site of desire through the concept of romance, this study proposes that a process of recycling in the region occurs in the form and manner of romancing the Caribbean. This romancing is inextricably linked to questions of water and the seascape – in the form of, e.g., cruise ship tourism and transactional sex, but also cultural products like literature, as is the case in this study. Romance and romancing, envisioned as a genre and a verb, here highlights and helps interrogate how the oft-co-occurring dimensions of the sea and sex in literary and genre fiction, then, becomes central for questions of sexual liberation and identity-formation.
Ultimately, the aim of this interrogation is to produce more sustainable knowledge of the Caribbean and its seascapes from the critical point of view of feminist human-sea studies as a field of the humanities. Theoretically and methodologically, this study situates itself within a multidisciplinary crossroads of English studies, feminist literary theory, cultural studies, affect theory, human-sea studies, and postcolonial ecocriticism. This helps develop a humanities-based approach to sustainability, which ties our ethical choices to water.
Project leader: Elina Valovirta
Project funding: Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, 2022—2024
The project focuses on Skolt Saami, a severely endangered language spoken by 300–350 speakers.
The main objectives are to
1) describe the grammatical structure of the present-day Skolt Saami,
2) provide an overview of its historical development, and
3) of the sociolinguistic variation.
These objectives will be realized in the form of
1) a comprehensive descriptive reference grammar, accompanied by
2) in-depth case studies,
3) an edited volume of articles on the language,
4) two collections of oral texts, and
5) a doctoral thesis.
All of the concrete objectives have a higher aim of supporting the Skolt Saami in their efforts to revitalize their language and culture.
The research team consists of five experts on the Saami languages who have studied and taught Skolt Saami for a long time, and want to provide a better description of the language that will be easy for the Saami themselves to use. The project will incorporate Skolt Saami speakers and students as equal research partners.
The project is led by Jussi Ylikoski, Professor of Finno-Ugric Languages at the School of Languages and Translation.
Project funding: Academy of Finland 2022–2026
The project team consists of four specialists in Skolt Saami:
Ph.D., Adjunct Professor (Title of Docent) Eino Koponen 9/2022–8/2026
Ph.D., Adjunct Professor (Title of Docent) Taarna Valtonen 9/2022–8/2026
MA Markus Juutinen 1/2023–8/2026
MA Miika Lehtinen 7/2023–8/2026
The project started in September 2022. More information will be available soon on the project’s website.
This project studies how telepresence robots can be used to support participation in classroom education at a distance. Telepresence robots are remote-controlled moveable devices with videoconferencing capabilities. The project analyses video-recorded language lessons from higher education classrooms in which one or more distance students participate alongside face-to-face students by operating a telepresence robot remotely. The analysis employs multimodal conversation analytic methodology and focuses on how the ability for remote movement is used as a resource for interaction and participation. The results can help establish a clearer picture of the possibilities of telepresence technologies in supporting participation across distance and in increasing equality of access to education for vulnerable groups such as homebound or hospitalized students.
Researcher: Teppo Jakonen
Funding: Academy of Finland 2021—2026
URKO – Uralic Triangulation (the DIGIHUM programme of the Academy of Finland, 2020 to 2022)
Digilang (University of Turku, 2018–2021)
A piece of news, an opinion or something else? Different texts and their automatic detection from the multilingual Internet (Emil Aaltonen Foundation, 2019-2021)
Formulaic sequences and metalinguistic knowledge in second and foreign language learning (The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, 2017–2021)
- Community of Practice in Uralic Studies (Erasmus+, 2018–2021)
- Multilingualism in the Long Twelfth Century
- LALI (Language and literacy learning through art) (2017–2020)
- Interaction and Variation in Pluricentric Languages (IVIP) (Riksbankens jubileumsfond, 2013–2020)
- Construal of Means and Time (COMET) (2015–2020)
- Arkisyn: A Morphosyntactically Annotated Corpus of Everyday Finnish-language Conversations (2013–2019)
- Academic Finnish as a Challenge for a Non-native Learner (2015–2018)
- The unexplored contexts of language contact: translation and interpretation (2015–2018)
- Social media from Nordic to global contexts (SoNoGlo) (2016–2018)
- INFUSE – Integration Finno-Ugric Studies in Europe, partnership established by eight European universities (Erasmus+, 2016–2018)
- Targeted Teaching for Advanced Finnish Learners (Kone Foundation, 2016–2018)
- Finnish Internet Parsebank (2013–2017)
- Units of grammar and interaction (Suomen Akatemia, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2014–2017)
- Out of the Ordinary: Challenging Commonplace Concepts in Anglophone Literature (Academy of Finland, 2014–2017)
- Online Udmurt–Finnish–Udmurt dictionary (Kone Foundation, 2015–2016)
- The Regional and Social Variation in Finnish Prosody project (Kone Foundation, 2013–2015)
- Subject expression in Finnish and other Finnic Languages (Academy of Finland, 2011–2014)
- TIME: Translation Research Training. An Integrated and Intersectoral Model for Europe (European Commission, 2011–2014)
- OPTIMALE: Optimising Professional Translator Training in a Multilingual Europe (European Commission, 2011–2013)
- Linguistic Variation in the Province of Satakunta in the 21st Century (Satakunta Regional Fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation, 2007–2013)
- Language learning and social media: 6 key languages (European Commission, 2010–2012)
- Westh Codex (Finnish Cultural Foundation, 2010–2012)
- Subtitles and language learning, Lifelong Learning programme (European Commission, 2009–2012)
- Silence as Voice: Reempowering the disempowered in contemporary English literatures (Academy of Finland, 2008–2011)
- På väg mot kommunikativ kompetens: tillägnandet av svenskans struktur hos finska inlärare (Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 2007–2010)