People

People work­ing in the pro­ject

The project's PI is Kaius Sinnemäki, Associate Professor of Quantitative and Comparative Linguistics at the University of Helsinki. There are three post-doctoral researchers working for the project: Francesca Di Garbo, Eri Kashima, and Ricardo Napoleão de Souza.

Dr Napoleão de Souza joined the team in September 2019. Doctors Di Garbo and Kashima started in the project in January 2020. Other project members include administrative coordinator Sara Miyabe and research assistants Viljami Haakana and Leena Manninen. The project's host institution is Department of Languages at the University of Helsinki.

Associate professor (tenure track) Kaius Sinnemäki is the PI of ERC Starting Grant project Linguistic Adaptation: Typological and Sociolinguistic Perspectives to Language Variation. Sinnemäki is working on language comparison, language variation, universals of language, and language complexity by using data from tens or hundreds of languages at the same time. The data for this kind of research typically come from reference grammars which are descriptions of the principal properties of a language’s sound system and grammar. He has collaborated nationally and internationally with typologists, corpus linguists, historical linguists, and sociolinguists to spearhead a typological approach to language complexity. His early work led to the understanding that this research required sophisticated language comparison but also advanced quantification, which he has combined in his research since then. He has hands-on training in applying statistical approaches to researching language universals, and a broad interest in researching why languages are the way they are.

In his research, Sinnemäki has focused primarily on systematic variation in human language and has produced linguistic analyses for several linguistic features in up to 850 languages. He has researched especially typological correlations between linguistic features (e.g., case marking and word order) and how their complexity may be partly determined by the sociolinguistic environments in which those features are learned and used. In addition, he has researched the interaction of nationalism, language, and religion, and the theoretical and methodological foundations of language comparison.

Francesca Di Garbo joined the GramAdapt team as a postdoctoral research fellow in January 2020. She received a BA in Classics (2005) and an MA in Classical Philology and Historical Linguistics (2007) at the University of Palermo (Italy). In 2014, she received her PhD in Linguistics at Stockholm University (Sweden). Between February 2015 and December 2016, she was affiliated to the University of Helsinki as a Wenner-Gren foundation postdoctoral fellow, and between January 2017 and December 2019, she was back at Stockholm University under an Anna Ahlström and Ellen Terserus postdoctoral fellowship.

Francesca’s research interests include the synchronic and diachronic typology of nominal classification systems and number systems, evaluative morphology, African languages (Bantu and Cushitic in particular), linguistic complexity, and the relationship between language structure and the socio-historical and natural environment. She also has an interest in database design and quantitative and experimental methods for the study of linguistic diversity and language evolution.  Her publications include papers on: the typology of grammatical gender systems, nominal number, and evaluative morphology; the encoding of evaluative morphology and temperature evaluation in the Kwa language Selee, spoken in Ghana; linguistic complexity, with focus on grammatical gender and the relationship between language structures and social structures. Within the GramAdapt project, she will focus on large scale typological data collection and analyses, investigating the emergence of transparency/compositionality under language contact situations.

Ricardo Napoleão de Souza joined the GramAdapt team as a postdoctoral researcher in September of 2019. He received a BA in French (2009) and has an MA in Linguistics (2012) from the University of Minas Gerais (Brazil). In 2019, he received his PhD in Linguistics from the University of New Mexico (USA). Ricardo's doctoral dissertation investigates how the interaction of different levels of prosodic structure may influence the emergence of syllable complexity from a cross-linguistic perspective. 

His research interests include the interface of prosody and sound change, phonological typology, areal linguistics, morphophonology, corpus linguistics, and probabilistic models of language. Research methodology, especially experimental methods and statistical techniques, are also main foci of his research. Ricardo's publications include papers on segment reduction, on the perception/production of prosodic prominence and boundaries, and on how the interaction of morphosyntactic and phonetic factors influences phonological properties of languages. He has worked extensively on Romance and Germanic languages, but also on various Indigenous languages of the Americas (those in Tupian and Macro-Je families in particular). Within the GramAdapt project, Ricardo will focus on historical and phonological developments that lead to structural complexity in language contact situations.

Eri Kashima joined the GramAdapt team as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2020. Eri has a BA in Anthropology (2007), and Minor Thesis in Linguistics from the University of Melbourne (2013). Her PhD was awarded in 2020 from the Australian National University. Her dissertation concerns the speech community of Nmbo speakers in Papua New Guinea. The thesis combined ethnographic and grammatical descriptions with quantitative studies of language variation.  She has investigated, and continues to investigate phonetic-phonological variation, as well as grammaticalisation phenomena.

Eri’s research interests lie in the role and parameters of language ecologies in language change phenomena. She is also interested in researching the range of diverse language ecologies from lesser documented parts of the world. The approach Eri employs in studying language variation and change is via the investigation of natural speech corpora. Eri joins the GramAdapt project in the position of sociolinguist, and will be involved in pioneering a method of doing empirically informed sociolinguistic comparisons, i.e. sociolinguistic typology.

Viljami Haakana is a Master's degree student of general linguistics at the Helsinki University. He began his studies in 2014 and received his Bachelor's degree in autumn 2018. His academic minors have been phonetics, language technology and statistics.

Leena Manninen works as a research assistant for the GramAdapt project. She has a BA in General Linguistics from the University of Helsinki. She is currently a master’s student in the LingDA Master's Programme for Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age.