Tanja Säily

Tanja Säily is Assistant Professor in English Language at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests include corpus linguistics, digital humanities, historical sociolinguistics, and the concept of productivity in linguistics. She enjoys working collaboratively, especially to develop tools and methods for humanities research. She is currently working in the Helsinki Computational History Group (COMHIS) on social aspects of public discourse in the modern period. In addition, she is a member of two Academy of Finland funded research projects that focus on language change. After defending her PhD dissertation on variation and change in English derivational productivity in 2014, she gained a postdoc position in the project Reassessing language change: the challenge of real time, where she continues her work on productivity in addition to participating in the compilation of a new online resource, the Language Change Database. She is also collaborating with computer scientists to develop corpus-­linguistic tools and methods for historical sociolinguistics in the STRATAS project, funded by the Academy of Finland DIGIHUM programme. She is a co­-compiler of the Corpora of Early English Correspondence.


PhD, Assistant Professor, Managing Editor of the VARIENG eSeries

Room C621, Unioninkatu 40
PL 24, 00014 Helsingin yliopisto, Finland
E-mail: tanja.saily(at)helsinki.fi

My current focus is on lexical productivity and creativity: as a member of two DH research teams, I explore the social embedding of vocabulary change in both public and private discourse in Modern English. Firstly, I collaborate with historians, linguists and computer scientists in the COMHIS research group to study changes in public discourse in large databases of text and metadata, including Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). Secondly, in the STRATAS project (on which more below), we are developing an open-source environment for analysing neologisms that combines the Corpora of Early English Correspondence with lexicographical sources and contemporary published texts.

I am a member of the project Interfacing structured and unstructured data in sociolinguistic research on language change (STRATAS), funded by the Academy of Finland DIGIHUM programme for 2016–2019 and led by Professor Terttu Nevalainen. Together with Eetu Mäkelä, Mika Hämäläinen and Harri Siirtola, we are developing a toolkit for historical sociolinguistics that will enable researchers to interactively explore the social embedding of language use by combining texts, metadata and visualizations. As noted above, my subproject focuses on neologisms in early English correspondence.

I am also a member of the project Reassessing language change: the challenge of real time, which is funded by the Academy of Finland for 2014–2018 and led by Professor Terttu Nevalainen. One of the main aims of the project is to create a user-updated, fully searchable Language Change Database, which will provide access to the results of previous empirical research on English historical linguistics. In my subproject, I work on variation and change in derivational vs. inflectional productivity, as well as on methods for studying changes proceeding through lexical diffusion.

I have participated in the development of the following tools and methods:

Research profile in TUHAT

  • September 2019: LDA-3103 Linguistics in the Digital Age, guest lecturer
  • June 2019: Linguistics MA seminar, FAU Erlangen, guest lecturer
  • May 2019: Digital Humanities Hackathon, leader of the Genre and Style in Early Modern Publications team (with Simon Hengchen)
  • April 2019: LDA-H507 Current Topics in Digital Humanities I, guest lecturer
  • October 2018: LDA-3103 Linguistics in the Digital Age, guest lecturer
  • March 2018: Data Visualization in Historical Sociolinguistics workshop, Historical Sociolinguistics Young Researchers Forum
  • Spring 2018: ENG-3037 Project in Variation and Change in English (with Terttu Nevalainen and the LCD team)
  • October 2017: LDA-3103 Linguistics in the Digital Age, guest lecturer
  • Autumn 2016: ENG381 Project Work in English Philology (with Terttu Nevalainen and the STRATAS team)
  • February 2016: SSU221 Introduction to Corpus Linguistics and Computational Methods in Linguistics, guest lecturer
  • May 2015: Digital Humanities Hackathon, leader of the English Letters team (with Jukka Suomela)
  • Spring 2015: ENG381 Project Work in English Philology (with Terttu Nevalainen and Turo Vartiainen)
  • December 2014: DH Methods for Dummies workshop, Helsinki Digital Humanities Day (with Reijo Sund)
  • Spring 2012: ENG114a Text Analysis from English into Finnish I, group 5

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