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.
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
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 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
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 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 2017–2021
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 2020-2021
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/
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/.
Ethically Responsive 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
- LALI (Language and literacy learning through art) (2017–2020)
- Interaction and Variation in Pluricentric Languages (IVIP) (2013–2020)
- Construal of Means and Time (COMET) (2015–2020)
- Arkisyn: A Morphosyntactically Annotated Corpus of Everyday Finnish-language Conversations (2013–2019)
- The unexplored contexts of language contact: translation and interpretation (2015–2018)
- Social media from Nordic to global contexts (SoNoGlo) (2016-2018)
- Fennougristiikan kv. verkosto (2016–2018)
- Täsmäopetusta edistyneille suomenoppijoille (Koneen Säätiö, 2016–2018)
- Finnish Internet Parsebank (2013-2017)
- 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)