PhD, Professor of English Philology, University of Helsinki
Director of the Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English (VARIENG), National Centre of Excellence, 2006-2011
Academy Professor, 2010–2014
Domain One Co-ordinator
Room C621, Unioninkatu 40
Phone +358-(0)9-191 24742
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
English language, history of English, historical sociolinguistics, variation studies, corpus compilation and methodology.
I have a long-standing interest in language change, which I find is one of the most fascinating issues in linguistic research. I am intrigued by the circumstances in which English became the kind of language it is today – in many respects quite unlike modern German, for example, although these languages are closely related historically.
Most of my work is basic research and has methodological, empirical and theoretical objectives. But I also contribute to textbooks and reference works by writing general introductions to my field of research and research findings. A few years ago I was invited to write a textbook on Early Modern English, a historical variety of English that I have always had a particular affinity with, not least because it was the language of Shakespeare.
Methodologically, my work comes under the umbrella of corpus linguistics. The electronic corpora of personal correspondence compiled and annotated by the CEEC team that I have been working with for well over a decade enable advanced research on English historical sociolinguistics over four centuries from 1400 to 1800. We have now joined efforts with colleagues in England and Germany to supplement the corpus and extend it into the beginning of the 20th century.
In order to be able to make better use of the data sources available to corpus linguistics, I collaborate with data-mining specialists and visualization experts. In the DAMMOC project, which is part of the Academy of Finland Motive programme, our aim is to produce tools and techniques for the study of language variation and change which apply to annotated language corpora in general, both historical and modern.
The empirical work I carry out contributes to sociolinguistic fact-finding by providing baseline information on how the English language has changed in various social contexts over the last six hundred years. This work also contributes to sociolinguistic theory formation, and to the modelling of processes of long-term language change. Historical sociolinguists have access to processes unfolding in real time, and can present generalizations about the phases that changes undergo as they progress across the language community. Some of the questions that have recently occupied me include: how systematically do people participate in ongoing linguistic changes in their community? Do most people participate in them or only a few, and do linguistic changes differ in this respect?
A question of general theoretical interest is the manifestation of social evaluation in a typologically analytic language such as English. By comparing linguistic processes of different kinds over time, we will be able to assess the extent to which they pattern socially in the language community, and are hence in a better position to judge what may count as sociolinguistic “facts” in English as opposed to other, typologically different languages. Here the past can help us understand the present.
My other academic commitments include participation in professional organizations and editorial work. I am Vice President (Research) of the new International Society for the Linguistics of English (ISLE) and Vice President of the Modern Language Society (founded in 1887).
I recently started as the editor-in-chief of the new monograph series Oxford Studies in the History of English and continue as the English editor of Neuphilologische Mitteilungen. I am a member of the international editorial advisory boards of Anglia, English Language and Linguistics, International Journal of English Studies, Journal of Historical Pragmatics, Miscelanéa, NOWELE, Studia Anglica Poznaniensia and the online journal Historical Sociolinguistics and Socio-historical Linguistics. I also edit the VARIENG eSeries, Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English.
Recent Publications (selection)
Nevalainen, Terttu & Elizabeth Traugott, eds. (Forthc. 2012). The Oxford Handbook of the History of English. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nevalainen, Terttu & Susan M. Fitzmaurice, eds. (2011). How to Deal with Data: Problems and Approaches to the Investigation of the English Language over Time and Space (Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English 7). Helsinki: VARIENG.
Nevalainen, Terttu, Irma Taavitsainen, Päivi Pahta & Minna Korhonen, eds. (2008). The Dynamics of Linguistic Variation: Corpus Evidence on English Past and Present (Studies in Language Variation 2). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Nevalainen, Terttu & Sanna-Kaisa Tanskanen, eds. (2007). Letter Writing (Benjamins Current Topics 1). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins.
Pahta, Päivi, Irma Taavitsainen, Terttu Nevalainen & Jukka Tyrkkö, eds. (2007). Towards Multimedia in Corpus Studies (Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English 2). http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/02/
Nevalainen, Terttu, Juhani Klemola & Mikko Laitinen, eds. (2006). Types of Variation: Diachronic, Dialectal and Typological Interfaces (Studies in Language Companion Series 76). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). An Introduction to Early Modern English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press/ New York: Oxford University Press.
Nevalainen, Terttu & Helena Raumolin-Brunberg (2003). Historical Sociolinguistics: Language Change in Tudor and Stuart England (Longman Linguistics Library). London: Pearson Education.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2012). Reconstructing syntactic continuity and change in Early Modern English regional dialects: The case of who. Analysing Older English, ed. by David Denison, Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero, Christopher McCully & Emma Moore, 159-184. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nevalainen, Terttu, Helena Raumolin-Brunberg & Heikki Mannila (2011). The diffusion of language change in real time: progressive and conservative individuals and the time-depth of change. Language Variation and Change 23 (1): 1-43.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2010). Pushing forward the boundaries of corpus-oriented historical sociolinguistics. Hiroshima Studies in English Language and Literature 54, 1–14.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2010). Theory and practice in English historical sociolinguistics. Studies in Modern English 26: 1–24.
Nevalainen, Terttu & Heli Tissari (2010). Contextualizing 18th-century politeness: Social distinction and metaphorical levelling. Eighteenth Century English: Ideology and Change, ed. by Raymond Hickey, 133-158. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2009). Grasshoppers and blind beetles: Caregiver language in Early Modern English correspondence. The Language of Daily Life in England (1400-1800) (Pragmatics and Beyond NS 183), ed. by Arja Nurmi, Minna Nevala & Minna Palander-Collin, 137–164. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2009). Number agreement in existential constructions: A sociolinguistic study of 18th-century English. Vernacular Universals and Language Contact, ed. by Markku Filppula, Juhani Klemola & Heli Paulasto, 80–102. New York & London: Routledge.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2008). Social variation in intensifier use: Constraint on -ly adverbialization? English Language and Linguistics 12:2, 289–315.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2008). Variation in written English: Grammar change or a shift in style? Socially-Conditioned Language Change: Diachronic and Synchronic Insights, ed. by Susan Kermas and Maurizio Gotti, 31–51. Lecce: Edizioni del Grifo.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). Negative concord as an English “vernacular universal”: social history and linguistic typology, Journal of English Linguistics, 257–278.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). Vernacular universals? The case of plural was in Early Modern English. Types of Variation: Diachronic, Dialectal and Typological Interfaces (Studies in Language Companion Series 76), ed. by Terttu Nevalainen, Juhani Klemola & Mikko Laitinen, 351–369. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Raumolin-Brunberg, Helena & Terttu Nevalainen (2007). Historical sociolinguistics: The Corpus of Early English Correspondence. Creating and Digitizing Language Corpora, Volume 2: Diachronic Databases, ed. by Joan C. Beal, Karen P. Corrigan & Hermann L. Moisl, 148–171. Houndsmills: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Quantitative methods and data-mining
Mannila, Heikki, Terttu Nevalainen & Helena Raumolin-Brunberg (Forthcoming). Quantifying change: The effects of sample size on estimating the frequencies of linguistic variables. Research Methods in Language Variation and Change, ed. by Manfred Krug & Julia Schlüter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Säily,Tanja, Terttu Nevalainen & Harri Siirtola (2011). Variation in noun and pronoun frequencies in a sociohistorical corpus of English. Literary and Linguistic Computing 26(2), 167-188.
Nevalainen, Terttu, Helena Raumolin-Brunberg & Heikki Mannila (2011). The diffusion of language change in real time: progressive and conservative individuals and the time-depth of change. Language Variation and Change 23.
Siirtola, Harri, Kari-Jouko Räihä, Tanja Säily & Terttu Nevalainen (2010). Information visualization for corpus linguistics: Towards interactive tools”. Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Intelligent Visual Interfaces for Text Analysis, ed. by Shixia Liu, Michelle X. Zhou, Giuseppe Carenini & Huamin Qu, 33-36. New York: ACM.
Hinneburg, Alexander, Heikki Mannila, Samuli Kaislaniemi, Terttu Nevalainen & Helena Raumolin-Brunberg (2007). How to handle small samples: Bootstrap and Bayesian methods in the analysis of linguistic change, Literary and Linguistic Computing 22: 137–150.
Chapters in reference works
Nevalainen, Terttu (Forthc. 2012). Historical sociolinguistics. Historical Linguistics of English, ed. by Alexander Bergs & Laurel Brinton. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Nevalainen, Terttu & Helena Raumolin-Brunberg (2012). Historical sociolinguistics: Origins, motivations and paradigms. The Handbook of Historical Sociolinguistics, ed. by Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy & Juan Camilo Conde-Silvestre, 22-40. Oxford, UK & Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2012). Commentary: Theoretical approaches. Current Methods in Historical Semantics (Topics in English Linguistics 73), ed. by Kathryn Allan & Justyna A. Robinson, 334-342. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2011). Historical sociolinguistics. The Sage Handbook of Sociolinguistics, ed. by Ruth Wodak, Barbara Johnstone & Paul Kerswill, 279-295. London: Sage Publications.
Nevalainen, Terttu & Minna Palander-Collin (2011). Grammaticalization and sociolinguistics. The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization, ed. by Bernd Heine & Heiko Narrog, 118-128. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2008). Early Modern English (1485–1660). A Companion to the History of the English Language, ed. by Haruko Momma & Michael Matto, 209–215. Malden, MA, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). Historical sociolinguistics and language change. The Handbook of the History of English, ed. by Ans van Kemenade & Bettelou Los, 558–588. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). Mapping change in Tudor English. The Oxford History of English, ed. by Lynda Mugglestone, 178–211. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). Synchronic and diachronic variation. The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd ed., editor-in-chief, Keith Brown, Vol. 12, 356–362. Oxford: Elsevier.
Nevalainen, Terttu & Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (2006). Standardisation. A History of the English Language, ed. by Richard Hogg & David Denison, 271–311. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
See further: https://julki.linneanet.fi,