Minna Palander-Collin

PhD, University lecturer, Researcher
Room C612, Unioninkatu 40
Phone: +358504482235
E-mail: minna.palander-collin(at)helsinki.fi

Language change and social reality: Patterns of interaction in late medieval and early modern England

My research focuses on the history of English from the 15th century to the end of the 18th century; the central question is how the communicative function of language can be used to explain language variation and change. This is a question that has rarely if ever been asked in historical linguistics, and there are no answers based on systematic research. Since language is not merely used to convey information, but it is essentially used to build and maintain social relationships, we can assume that the interaction between individuals, constructing social reality, is a central factor influencing linguistic variation and, eventually, language change.

In interaction, language users communicate their social roles required by the situation and their identity in relation to the addressee. Language is, then, affected by the power relations and the level of intimacy between individuals. What kind of linguistic means are used to build social identity and social relationships between individuals, what are the features that change over time and why, what stays constant? What kind of a discourse grammar can we build on this basis? Special attention is focused on male and female language in different private roles as parents, children and spouses as well as in official roles.

I am also a founding member of the Socio-cultural reality and Language Practices in Late Modern England (SoReaL) project.

TUHAT research profile