Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (MAPHEL)

Funded by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (2020–2023).


The population of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, comprised of Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa, is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of language, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, location, mobility, and access to labour market and housing.

Understanding this diversity must involve a comprehensive account of which languages the residents use and for what purposes, where and when, because these factors contribute to the formation of identity among both individuals and groups. This helps alleviate risks of increasing inequality, segregation and social disintegration.


  • Produce a comprehensive description of the Helsinki metropolitan area as a multilingual urban environment to support further research and to inform practitioners

  • Move beyond a static view of the geographical distribution of languages and speakers, and towards a dynamic, spatiotemporal "geography of linguistic happenings"

  • Move beyond merely identifying linguistic groups and towards discourse communities which are formed in physical and virtual spaces (i.e. social media)

  • Achieve an understanding of how the linguistic landscape of the Helsinki metropolitan area is changing in terms of diversity, richness and potential for language contact

  • Develop scalable and reproducible methods that draw on linguistics, natural language processing and geoinformatics to support all of the goals defined above

Project members

  • Tuomo Hiippala (PI)
  • Hanna-Mari Pienimäki (post-doctoral researcher)
  • Tuomas Väisänen (doctoral researcher)
  • Sanni Häkkinen (research assistant, 2022)
  • Hanna Kettula (research assistant, 2023)

Publications and activities

For an up-to-date list of publications and other research outputs, see the University of Helsinki research portal.