Pragmatic approaches to languages and cultures

Coordinator: Juhani Härmä

E-Mail: Juhani.Harma [at]


The subgroup pragmatic approaches to languages and cultures examines language contacts.

Language contacts in diachrony: The diversity in the use of foreign languages in Finland (before the middle of the 20th century) is shown e.g. by the central position of German as the language of science until the 1960s; especially in the field of natural sciences, German was besides Swedish the most important model in the elaboration of Finnish into a scientific language.

The contexts of use of French were different: in the 18th century, it was not uncommon in the paratexts of academic dissertations which followed the model of Central European dissertations. In the 19th century, French became a lingua franca used by the cultural elite in their correspondence. The knowledge of French was of a surprisingly high level from the 17th to the early 20th century.

Language contacts in synchrony have been studied e.g. from the point of view of bilingualism and linguistic rights (project financed by the Academy of Finland 20062009) as well as creoles in the Hispanic world. Oral and written code-switching has been analyzed in Romance languages.

Research on the transfer of grammatical concepts from one culture to another represents a (more) theoretical approach.

In the examination of cultural interaction the focus has naturally been on the ties between Finland and the rest of Europe, but also e.g. on the impact of German culture in Bohemia and Prague. Extensive surveys and translation bibliographies on the reception of German, Swiss, French and Italian literature in Finland have been completed. Research has shown that contemporary Italian drama was much better known in Finland at the beginning of the 20th century than nowadays. Comparative research on opera and song translations (Finnish, Swedish, German) is being carried out.


Riikka Ala-Risku – Areas of interest: written plurilingualism, code-switching in literature, mix-language texts, orality in written texts, terms of address, Italo-Romance dialects and minority languages, contemporary Italian fiction

Pontus Andersson

Angela Bartens (University of Turku)

Mélanie Buchart – Areas of interest: didactics of French as a Foreign Language, intercultural communication, discourse analysis (Finnish textbooks of FFL), representations of identity/alterity, language biographies, autobiographies of intercultural encounters, rhetoric

Enrico Garavelli – Main areas of research: Italian Philology – Textual Criticism (Italian) / Textual Bibliography – Italian Literature (16th and 19th centuries) – History of Italian language – History of Italian typography – History of religious dissidence in the 16th century.

Currently I am preparing the critical edition of Lodovico Domenichi’s letters and studying the correspondence in French and Italian between some Finnish Romanists and several Italian colleagues living at the beginning of the 20th century.

Hans Giessen – Areas of interest: production of texts and media (applied – journalism etc. – and theoretical in research about media-adequateness of publications in different media), history of language(s), (historical) semantics (Michel Bréal), pragmatics, media linguistics, literature and media analysis, media effects, E-Learning

Tuuli Holttinen – Areas of interest: interlanguage and cross-cultural pragmatics, sociolinguistics, second/foreign language acquisition, politeness, speech acts, addressing

Juhani Härmä – Current research interests: Diachronic linguistics and the history of the French language; French as a lingua franca in Finland; research on historical letters; interaction, dialogue and terms of address in older written materials

Claudia Jeltsch – Areas of interest: multilingualism, sociolinguistics, (linguistic) identity, collocations, translation Finnish-German, lexicology, „Heimat“, German as a foreign language (DaF/ DaZ), narrative semiotics, intercultural / transcultural communication

Mikko Kervinen

Anta Kursisa

Aino Kärnä – Areas of interest: History of grammar, History of Learning, Grammaticography, European Grammars, Renaissance Grammars, Humanism in Europe, Parts of Speech, Adverbs in Grammars, Particles in Grammars

Hanna Lantto (University of Eastern Finland) – Areas of interest: code-switching, language contact, new speakers, Basque, minority languages

Riikka Länsisalmi – Areas of interest: Japanese, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology, Japanese language pedagogy

Annikki Liimatainen (University of Tampere)

Nora Muhonen – Areas of interest: didactics of French as a Foreign Language, didactics of French for Business Purposes, intercultural communication, interaction, politeness, sociolinguistics

Elina Suomela-Härmä