In the Language Bank: Karita Suomalainen

Kielipankki – The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. Karita Suomalainen tells us about her research on interactional linguistics where she has used the ArkiSyn Database of Finnish Conversational Discourse, The Finnish Dialect Syntax Archive and The Suomi24 Sentences Corpus 2001–2017.

Who are you?

I am Karita Suomalainen, Doctor of Philosophy in Finnish language. I defended my doctoral dissertation in December 2020, and at the moment, I am working as a university teacher at the University of Turku. During the academic year 2021–2022 I will be visiting Aarhus University in Denmark as post doc researcher, with a grant that I received from the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters via the Foundations’ Post Doc Pool (Säätiöiden post doc -pooli).

What is your research topic?

My main research interests lie in the area of interactional linguistics. My research concerns the way different grammatical structures are used in interactional contexts. In particular, I have worked on the use of different referential expressions.

My doctoral dissertation examined second person singular, focusing on the variation of its use in Finnish everyday conversations. My study revealed that, in addition to referring to and addressing the recipient, the second person singular forms can also be used in fixed expressions (e.g., tietsä ‘(do) you know’) or to create open reference, so that they do not refer exclusively to the addressee, but rather describe interpersonal or generic experiences or states of affairs; similar use of second person singular can be found in many other languages. My current post doc project deals with the grammaticalization of verbal constructions expressing person. The goal of the project is to describe the use, development and status of these expressions in Finnish and compare them to similar expressions in Danish.

In collaboration with Ritva Laury and Anna Vatanen, I have also worked on use of the Finnish se että construction in spoken language. In addition, I have examined the linguistic features of online hate speech together with Simo Määttä and Ulla Tuomarla.

How is your research related to Kielipankki?

Most of my research is actually based on data that is also available in corpora of Kielipankki – the Language Bank of Finland. My doctoral dissertation was part of the project “Arkisyn: Morphosyntactically coded database of conversational Finnish” (funded by Kone Foundation). The project produced a morphosyntactically annotated corpus of everyday Finnish conversations that is also available in Kielipankki (ArkiSyn Database of Finnish Conversational Discourse, Helsinki Korp Version). The corpus enables the research of morphosyntactic phenomena in conversational data, and this feature has been very useful in my own research. I have also used The Finnish Dialect Syntax Archive with the help of which it is possible to examine diachronically older spoken language. It is also possible to listen to the samples of the data, and that feature has been especially useful for a spoken language researcher like me. I appreciate that Kielipankki also hosts spoken language corpora – I know that coding such data is not always a very simple task.

In our research of online hate speech, Simo Määttä, Ulla Tuomarla and I have analyzed a discussion thread found within the Suomi 24 corpus available in Kielipankki. Our study was based on the qualitative analysis of a particular case, but it would be interesting to use corpus data for a more comprehensive study. However, it turned out in our project that it is difficult to define specific lexical or grammatical search criteria that could be used for locating samples of hate speech. Some new solutions should be considered in order to be able to extend the analysis.

Publications related to Kielipankki

Suomalainen, Karita (2020): Kuka sinä on? Tutkimus yksikön 2. persoonan käytöstä ja käytön variaatiosta suomenkielisissä arkikeskusteluissa [Who is ‘you’? On the use of the second person singular in Finnish everyday conversations]. Annales Universitatis Turkuensis C 499. Doctoral dissertation.

Suomalainen, Karita – Vatanen, Anna – Laury, Ritva (2020): The Finnish se että initiated expressions: NPs or not? In Sandra Thompson & Tsuyoshi Ono (eds.), The ‘Noun Phrase’ across Languages. An emergent unit in interaction, 12–41. Typological Studies in Language 128. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Määttä, Simo – Suomalainen, Karita – Tuomarla, Ulla (2020): Maahanmuuttovastaisen ideologian ja ryhmäidentiteetin rakentuminen Suomi24-keskustelussa [Constructing anti-immigration ideology and group identity in an online conversation thread on the Suomi24 discussion board]. Virittäjä 124 (2), 190–216.

More information on the current versions of the aforementioned resources in Kielipankki

The FIN-CLARIN consortium consists of a group of Finnish universities along with CSC – IT Center for Science and the Institute for the Languages of Finland (Kotus). FIN-CLARIN helps the researchers in Finland to use, to refine, to preserve and to share their language resources. The Language Bank of Finland is the collection of services that provides the language materials and tools for the research community.