Samuli Kaislaniemi

Sam Kaislaniemi defended his PhD in December 2017.

His thesis, Reconstructing Merchant Multilingualism: Lexical Studies of Early English East India Company Correspondence, is available as a pdf. He works on early modern English letter-writing, being mostly interested in language use in multilingual contexts. His current project (2022-2025, University of Eastern Finland) is a social history of epistolary materiality in 17th-century England. Sam is a co-compiler of the Corpora of Early English Correspondence (CEEC). If you see him in a British archive, buy him a cup of tea.

Contact information


PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher 


Twitter: @samklai

Research interests

PhD thesis

My thesis, Reconstructing Merchant Multilingualism: Lexical Studies of Early English East India Company Correspondence (2017), is available as a pdf here.

The focus of my thesis is the relationship of early East India Company and its employees to foreign languages. My main approach is historical lexicology and lexicography, but I also draw on historical code-switching, historical sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics, as well as literary studies and Early Modern cultural history.

My thesis is based on five articles. The first looks at Japanese loanwords used by the EIC merchants in Japan 1613–1623. The second explores Early Modern English words for 'interpreter', focussing on early EIC correspondence and journals. The third illustrates the linguistic creativity of early EIC merchants as shown through the example of a rare word found in their correspondence, a word which elsewhere occurs only in satirical bawdy texts. The fourth discusses the code-switching practices of the EIC merchants in Japan from the viewpoint of communities of practice. And the fifth is an interdisciplinary essay illustrating how a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies gives us (more) robust results when investigating historical multilingualism.

My thesis also has a timeline of the English East India Company and language (in ch. 2), a lengthy discussion of the philological quality of the printed editions used to compile the Corpus of Early English Correspondence (in ch. 4), and several appendices relating to the data surveyed in the articles.

Current research

My current project, funded by the Academy of Finland (2022-2025), is a social history of material practices of letter-writing in 17th-century England.

Previously, I have edited the early letters of Richard Cocks (bap. 1565, d. 1624; ODNB entry), an English merchant known for later heading the East India Company trading post in Japan 1613–1623. From 1603 to 1608 he lived in Bayonne in France near the Spanish border, from whence he wrote reports (or intelligence letters) to Thomas Wilson (b. c. 1562, d. 1629; ODNB entry), a secretary of Sir Robert Cecil. (You can view a map of the primary locations here). About one hundred of these letters survive, mainly in the UK National Archives among the State Papers Foreign. I've written a detailed analysis of the material aspects of Cocks's letters, and an investigation of information transfer in and the mechanics of conveyance of the correspondence/intelligence network Cocks was a part of. The edition and study remain unpublished for the moment.

For my other work, see my personal website.