In the Language Bank: Tanja Säily

Kielipankki – The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. Tanja Säily tells us about her research on the English language, which combines corpus linguistics, digital humanities and historical sociolinguistics.

Who are you?

I am Tanja Säily, Assistant Professor in English Language at the University of Helsinki.

What is your research topic?

I study variation and change in the English language from a sociolinguistic perspective. My research combines corpus linguistics, digital humanities and historical sociolinguistics. I frequently collaborate with other linguists and historians, and I develop new methods with data scientists and language technologists. I analyse sociolinguistic variation especially in linguistic productivity, such as the use of neologisms. I have also studied gendered styles and factors influencing the rate of language change.

How is your research related to Kielipankki?

In my research, I use English text corpora, which I have also deposited in Kielipankki for myself and others to use. I am currently studying the productivity of various linguistic constructions in the Corpus of Historical American English (e.g. Säily & Vartiainen, forthcoming). I have been using this corpus with the Korp tool and have also downloaded it to my own computer.

I have prepared openly available teaching materials on the methods of historical corpus linguistics for graduate students and other interested parties. They are included in the Method Bank for Linguistics, and the Early Modern English section of the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts used in the exercises can be found in Kielipankki.


Here are a few of my most recent publications; the entire list can be found on my homepage.

Accepted. Säily, Tanja, Martin Hilpert & Jukka Suomela. New approaches to investigating change in derivational productivity: Gender and internal factors in the development of -ity and -ness, 1600–1800. Patricia Ronan, Theresa Neumaier, Lisa Westermayer, Andreas Weilinghoff & Sarah Buschfeld (eds.), Crossing boundaries through corpora: Innovative approaches to corpus linguistics (Studies in Corpus Linguistics). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Accepted. Säily, Tanja & Turo Vartiainen. Historical linguistics. Michaela Mahlberg & Gavin Brooks (eds.), Bloomsbury handbook of corpus linguistics. London: Bloomsbury.

Accepted. Säily, Tanja, Turo Vartiainen, Harri Siirtola & Terttu Nevalainen. Changing styles of letter-writing? Evidence from 400 years of early English letters in a POS-tagged corpus. Luisella Caon, Moragh Gordon & Thijs Porck (eds.), Unlocking the history of English: Pragmatics, prescriptivism and text types (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

2023. Landert, Daniela, Tanja Säily & Mika Hämäläinen. TV series as disseminators of emerging vocabulary: Non-codified expressions in the TV Corpus. ICAME Journal 47(1): 63–79.

2022. Rodríguez-Puente, Paula, Tanja Säily & Jukka Suomela. New methods for analysing diachronic suffix competition across registers: How -ity gained ground on -ness in Early Modern English. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics27(4): 506–528. Special issue, Corpus studies of language through time, ed. by Tony McEnery, Gavin Brookes & Isobelle Clarke.

2021. Säily, Tanja, Eetu Mäkelä & Mika Hämäläinen. From plenipotentiary to puddingless: Users and uses of new words in early English letters. Mika Hämäläinen, Niko Partanen & Khalid Alnajjar (eds.), Multilingual Facilitation, 153–169. Helsinki: University of Helsinki.

2020. Mäkelä, Eetu, Krista Lagus, Leo Lahti, Tanja Säily, Mikko Tolonen, Mika Hämäläinen, Samuli Kaislaniemi & Terttu Nevalainen. Wrangling with non-standard data. Sanita Reinsone, Inguna Skadiņa, Anda Baklāne & Jānis Daugavietis (eds.), Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 5th Conference, Riga, Latvia, October 21–23, 2020 (CEUR Workshop Proceedings 2612), 81–96. Aachen: DHN 2020 Best Paper Award.

2020. Nevalainen, Terttu, Tanja Säily, Turo Vartiainen, Aatu Liimatta & Jefrey Lijffijt. History of English as punctuated equilibria? A meta-analysis of the rate of linguistic change in Middle English. Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics 6(2): article 20190008. Special issue, Comparative Sociolinguistic Perspectives on the Rate of Linguistic Change, ed. by Terttu Nevalainen, Tanja Säily & Turo Vartiainen.

2019. Hill, Mark J., Ville Vaara, Tanja Säily, Leo Lahti & Mikko Tolonen. Reconstructing intellectual networks: From the ESTC’s bibliographic metadata to historical material. Costanza Navarretta, Manex Agirrezabal & Bente Maegaard (eds.), Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 4th Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, March 6–8, 2019 (CEUR Workshop Proceedings 2364), 201–219. Aachen: DHN 2019 Best Paper Award.

2018. Säily, Tanja. Change or variation? Productivity of the suffixes -ness and -ity. Terttu Nevalainen, Minna Palander-Collin & Tanja Säily (eds.), Patterns of Change in 18th-century English: A Sociolinguistic Approach (Advances in Historical Sociolinguistics 8), 197–218. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Corpora and teaching materials

More information

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.