Multilingual Practices in Finno-Ugric Communities

The landscape of the Finno-Ugric speech communities is currently experiencing profound and, to a large extent, irreversible transformation. The accelerating erosion of linguistic networks and pace of change are not unique in a global context. However, in the Finno-Ugric setting current cultural change is more intensive than ever. These changes are triggered by a fundamental restructuring of the social, economic, cultural and political environment of language, the fall of traditional language boundaries, new forms of mobility and migration. The most sensitive laboratory of the prevailing situation is evidenced in those minority languages that have not gained new forms of communication within and outside of the group without the threat of language shift and total collapse of the speech community. Change in everyday language practices takes place via bilingualism, multilingualism and an increased use of the majority language.



The joint project between the University of Helsinki and ELTE University Budapest, funded by the Academy of Finland, seeks to contribute to the scholarly understanding of multilingual practices and the patterns of both language change and language shift in Finno-Ugric speech communities. The project will pay special attention to those viewpoints, such as language contact situation, code-switching, speakers’ attitudes in different linguistic environments, that emphasise the importance of detailed qualitative linguistic analysis. The increase in bilingualism in various Finno-Ugric communities is well known, but there is only a little up-to-date information about the importance of the parallel use of two or more languages and its influence on both language structure and the renewal of functional domains. Previous research has demonstrated that the dynamics of stable bilingualism are clearly different when compared to an unstable balance between the languages involved.

The project will organise a thematic workshop at the twelfth International Conference for Finno-Ugric Studies at Oulu 2015 (

The project is led by Prof. Riho Grünthal (University of Helsinki, riho.grunthal(at) and Prof. Márta Csepregi (ELTE University Budapest).