About HALS

Do you speak Erzya? Or Ndebele?

You know about the importance of biodiversity. Now discover linguistic diversity – the social glue of our globe.

There are between 6000 and 7000 different languages spoken on our planet. They are used to express both joy and grief, for both profit (in a business meeting) and pleasure (when reading a book).

In HALS – Helsinki Diversity Linguistics Group, the researchers aim to study how to maintain this wonderful linguistic diversity and support people's linguistic well-being.

HALS paves the way to a better understanding of languages and their cultural context and history.

In order to support research on language in various cultural contexts, HALS organizes a range of activities, including seminars and workshops, and also joint excursions to different field sites for students and researchers in language-related disciplines at the University of Helsinki.

The history behind HALS

The Helsinki Area Language Studies (HALS) initiative is an offshoot of the LDHFTA (= Linguistic Diversity: Historical, Functional and Typological Approaches) research community.

LDHFTA was assessed as among the most successful research clusters at the University of Helsinki (UH) in the past research evaluation. HALS intends to keep this positive momentum and will serve as an intellectual, and hopefully in the future also a very practical, support structure at the UH for language studies that take into account linguistic diversity, language contact and historical linguistics and which are thoroughly grounded in the cultural context of the speaker communities (linguistic ethnographies, language descriptions, as well as documentation projects).

The first major project of HALS was organizing four summer schools with field site visits that were carried out over the years 2013-2016. Funding received as a result of the successful evaluation of the LDHFTA research community (coordinated by J. Janhunen) was used for this purpose. If you are interested in the reports or results of these trips, please, navigate to Linguistic field trips.

In the spring of 2021, HALS members decided to change the full name of the group to HALS – Helsinki Diversity Linguistics Group, in order to better reflect the research interests of the group’s members. However, the former acronym HALS was preserved as a short name for the group.


For more information, you may contact HALS coordinator Noora Ahola (noora.ahola(at)helsinki.fi)

We also invite you to subscribe to our mailing list. Send an e-mail containing subscribe hals-info <your address here> to majordomo at helsinki dot fi. You will then be updated regularly on on-going activities and can be sure not to miss any deadline for registration concerning our diverse activities.