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 coordinators Sara Miyabe and Janne Loisa, and research and student assistants. 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.
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, and received the Stephen Wurm Graduate Prize for Pacific Linguistic Studies for 2022 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.
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. Currently Francesca works at the University of Aix-Marseille but continues as a visiting researcher in the Gram Adapt project.
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. Currently Ricardo works at the University of Edinburgh in the AHRC -funded project Prosodic Structure at the Interface between Language and Speech but continues as a visiting researcher in the GramAdapt project.
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.
Sara Miyabe works as an administrative coordinator of the project . She joined the GramAdapt team in January 2019 and has graduated from the University of Helsinki with Master's in Educational Sciences.
Panagiotis Kapellis is a research assistant in the GramAdapt project. He is currently studying in the Linguistic Diversity and Digital Humanities Master's Programme at the University of Helsinki. His main interests include historical linguistics and language typology.
Nora Muheim joined the GramAdapt team as a PhD student in March of 2023. Nora has a BA in Slavonic Linguistics and Literature and General Linguistics (2020), and an MA in General Linguistics (2022) from the University of Zürich. During her MA, she studied one year at the University of Bern and visited the University of Helsinki twice. Nora’s doctoral dissertation investigates linguistic adaptation in selected areas in Northeast India, focusing on morphosyntax. Nora’s main research interest lie in Sino-Tibetan languages, language change due to contact, the influence of sociopolitical and natural environment on languages, and language variation in general. Her approaches to studying these phenomena are language documentation, multivariate typology, building databases, as well as qualitative analysis of language data.
Anu worked as a research assistant in the GramAdapt project. She has a BA in General Linguistics from the University of Helsinki and currently she is studying in the Linguistic Diversity and Digital Humanities Master's Programme. Her main interests include language typology, endangered languages and Sámi languages.
Oona Raatikainen worked as a technical assistant for the GramAdapt project. She joined the GramAdapt team in March 2021. Oona has a BA (2018) and MA (2021) in General Linguistics from the University of Helsinki. Her interests lie in typology, in addition to language contact and change.
Noora Ahola worked as a research assistant in the GramAdapt project. She has a BA in Scandinavian languages from the University of Helsinki, and currently studies in the master’s programme of Linguistic Diversity and Digital Humanities. She is especially interested in language typology.
Janne Loisa worked as an administrative coordinator for the project during Sara Miyabe’s leave. He has an MA in English from the University of Jyväskylä, where he specialized in language education.
Kayleigh Karinen worked as a student assistant for the GramAdapt project. She has a BA in Spanish Language from Oklahoma State University. She is currently a master’s student in the Linguistic Diversity and Digital Humanities Master's Programme with an interest in sociolinguistics.
Akira Takaki worked as a student assistant for the GramAdapt project. He has a BA in general linguistics and is currently enrolled in the Master’s Programme in Linguistic Diversity and Digital Humanities at the University of Helsinki. He has specialized in the Lithuanian language.
Leena Manninen worked 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.
Viljami Haakana was a research assistant in the GramAdapt project. He 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.
Jarno Porkka was a research assistant in the GramAdapt project.