Ongoing projects

Anne Ketola (PI), Helena Haapio, Henrik Oksanen, Merja Pentikäinen, Juho Saloranta, Anna Hurmerinta-Haanpää, Soili Nystén-Haarala. Contract language: From unsustainable jargon to clear sustainability communication. Kone Foundation (2024–2026)
Companies play an important role in the global sustainability crisis, and the contracts they use in their business operations are central in implementing environmental and social responsibility. However, the language used in these contracts is typically complex and vague, which obscures the parties’ commitments. We refer to this type of language use as sustainabilitese: it is overly abstract and complex sustainability jargon that only experts can understand. The Contract language project, conducted by the JARGONFREE research group, examines what contracts should be like in terms of language and content, so that the sustainability obligations could be translated into concrete guidelines that promote sustainable development. Our research focuses on corporate sustainability due diligence requirements in supply chains, especially supply and procurement contracts. We look at contracts and the related codes of conduct, as well as model clauses derived from sustainability regulation. We examine the sustainabilitese used in this material as its own register; a form of language use typical of the text types included in the material. Our goal is to describe the characteristics of this language use and to show what kind of language choices undermine or promote the realization of sustainability goals.

Anne Ketola (PI), Mira Kainulainen, Niina Ollanketo. The Audiodescription Handbook. Kone Foundation (2024–2025)
Audiodescription is an accessibility service in which visual information, such as paintings or TV programs, are verbally described for the benefit of visually impaired people. Compared to other European countries, audiodescription services are rarely available in Finland, even though around 55,000 people in the country need the service. According to a recent report on the state of the audiodescription industry in Finland, the biggest obstacle to the spread of the service is the lack of audiodescription training. One of the biggest challenges for audiodescription training, in turn, is the lack of teaching materials in Finnish. Our project produces an online learning material bank called The Audiodescription Handbook (Kuvailutulkkauksen käsikirja), which is versatile material collection for a wide range of users, available in Finnish. It is based on insight from recent audiodescription research, localized for a Finnish target audience. The handbook includes instructions for describing different types of locations and objects (for example, theater and online environments). It also includes hands-on advice on working as a professional audiodescriber, hiring audiodescription services and organizing training. The handbook will be open-access and it will be published on the website of the Cultural Services for the Visually Impaired, both in text-form and as an audiobook.

Liisa Mustanoja (PI), Valtasalmi Idastiina, Wacklin Vilma, Helin Maiju, Lehtinen Outi, Räsänen Okko, Seinelä Lauri, Vallinen Juuli. Tampere in emotions: Linguistic affect, non-discriminatory language and the accessibility of research participation. Kone Foundation (2024-2027)

The Tampere in Emotions project examines the mechanisms of non-discriminatory language, affective language use, and the accessibility and accessibility of participation in (language) research.

Mattia Thibault (PI), Janset Shawash, Shuman Yang: Next Extended Reality (NEXR). Business Finland (2024-2026)

The project aims to boost the growth, enhance the competitiveness, and foster the sustainable development of the Finnish creative industries by developing an innovative paradigm for the design, deployment, and adoption of Extended Reality (XR) technologies. NEXR will tackle the current obstacles in the field thanks to a specific focus on the spatial dimension (increasing the meaningfulness of XR), the use of low-threshold XR technologies (facilitating seamless use), and the use of generative AI (for translating and localizing content for different contexts).

Eliisa Pitkäsalo (PI): Graphic Justice. Academy of Finland (2020–2024)

Our multidisciplinary research group examines how the comprehensibility of different types of legal documents – such as contracts or court rulings – could be improved by using comic-style communication. Official documents can often be difficult for clients to understand, due overly complicated language, unfamiliar terms, etc. Misunderstandings can impede people from accessing their social rights. The Graphic Justice research project aims to tackle this problem by examing whether a comic-style document can be legally binding and wether visual presentation of information can make the document easier to understand and hence improve the client’s access to justice. The project is carried out in collaboration between researchers from the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences.

Eliisa Pitkäsalo, Anne Ketola (PI Laura Kalliomaa-Puha): Word to Image. Kone Foundation (2020–April 2024)

The project analyses the visualisation of social welfare documents. The project examines if the comprehensibility – and, hence, accessibility – of social welfare documents could be improved by converting the documents into comics. The project works in close co-operation with the Finnish Federation for Mother and Child Homes and shelters and has created comic-style versions of their documents.

Johanna Vaattovaara (PI), Kaarina Hippi, Olli Kuparinen, Mari Heikkilä (science communication specialist): Societal awareness of linguistic variation and change (LANGAWARE). Kone Foundation (2023-2025). 

The project investigates, how language users of different backgrounds who use Finnish as their first or as a second language perceive variation of Finnish in their everyday life-worlds, in face-to-face encounters and online environments such as instant messaging and social media. The project brings a new, perceptual continuum into the study of linguistic variation and change by applying quantitative survey methods and qualitative inclusive methods in the context of Finland. The project will, on the one hand, investigate the relationship of contemporary language users to those linguistic variables on which there is research available since 1970s based on real-time methods. On the other hand, the project gives a voice and agency to the regional language communities by inviting language users to co-investigate the dynamics of linguistic diversity and variation in their everyday social spaces.
The project builds on key principles of Citizen Science and contributes to development of participatory research in Sociolinguistics.

Niina Lilja (PI): Globalizing Construction Work and Local Language Practices. Academy of Finland (2020–2024)

Construction industry in Finland provides employment for an increasing number of adults with immigrant background. It also attracts temporary workers, especially from Estonia. This diversification of workforce in construction industry brings about increasing multilingualism which, in turn, creates new kinds of challenges for work-related language practices. This project investigates local language practices in multilingual construction sites, and focuses on analyzing how co-workers coordinate courses of physical action. The project zooms into these interactions with the methods of multimodal conversation analysis. Concrete construction projects will be video-recorded and the language practices analyzed from a holistic viewpoint paying attention to the use of the different languages, as well as embodied and material resources. The results will provide new understanding about how language in general, and different languages (Finnish, Estonian, Arabic, English), in particular, are used in multilingual construction sites as part of the physical work. The results can be used to create sustainable language educational solutions.

Saara Ratilainen (PI): Mediated Feminism(s) in Contemporary Russia. Academy of Finland (2021–2025)

The project investigates ‘feminism’ as mediated practice and discourse in Russia, observing how Russian audiences understand and relate to these mediated feminisms. It provides a new perspective on the challenges and potential of feminist cultural politics in (semi-)authoritarian states. The project has wide scientific and societal relevance: it generates an inclusive typology of mediated feminist positionality ranging from prominent female figures to online grassroots influencers that will be informative to academic research, policy makers, and societal actors.

Concluded projects

Johannes Riquet (PI): Mediated Arctic Geographies. Academy of Finland (2019–2023)

The project focuses on the examination of the poeticisation and politicisation of different Arctic geospheres and teases out socially, environmentally, and geopolitically relevant aspects of contemporary Arctic imaginaries that have remained unexplored, and imagines “Southern” and Indigenous imaginaries of the Arctic side by side through innovative collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars from a range of disciplines including literary studies, cultural geography, museology, and tourism studies. Besides critiquing academic and political discourses about the Arctic, results reveal complex combinations of older, notably bothcolonial and Indigenous, discourses and more recent perspectives influenced by global warming, environmental degradation, Arctic resource extraction, and Northern tourism – as well as Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies. 

Maija Hirvonen (PI Tuomas Virtanen): Using Language to Interpret Unstructured Data. Emil Aaltonen Foundation (2021–2023)

The project develops deep learning methods to compute unstructured data, such as images and sounds, into linguistic representations by learning from human communication and intermodal translation.

Camilla Lindholm (PI): Lätt finlandssvenska – en språkform för minoriteter inom minoriteten [Easy Finland Swedish – a language form for minorities within the minority]. The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (2021–2023)

The project studies how spoken, written, and signed language can be adapted to suit target groups who require easier communication. Swedish-speaking Finns who need easy language constitute a linguistic minority within a minority and run the risk of double marginalisation. The project increases knowledge about their situation, language skills and language needs, strengthening these persons’ position as citizens and facilitating their opportunities to be active in their everyday life and in society. 

Arja Rosenholm (PI), Markku Lehtimäki (PI): The Changing Environment of the North: Cultural Representations and Uses of Water (CEN). Academy of Finland (2017–2021), Consortium University of Tampere & University of Eastern Finland

The North, including the Arctic, has been regarded as a periphery upon which the centre has reflected itself. In the age of climate change and the exploitation of natural resources, it has become a new centre. The project contends that both human experiences and natural spaces are part of the Arctic reality, and both should be analysed with the tools and methods provided by interdisciplinary humanist studies (history, literary theory, linguistics, and environmental studies). The project covers the area between the Baltic Sea and the Arctic Ocean. It highlights questions of power and representation, the relationship between real and imaginary spaces, and utopian and dystopian visions concerning the North. The project asks what the North and the Arctic look like when we investigate them through water rather than land. The project makes use of the concept of aquagraphy, which includes an analytical means of exploring multiple northern waters turned into glaciers, ice, snow, and floods.

Igor Kudashev (PI): Developing Healthcare Interpreting Training. Cultura Foundation (2019–2020)

The project was aimed at improving the university-level training of community interpreters working in the healthcare sector in Finland. One of the major goals of the project was the compilation of the Finnish-Russian Thematic Dictionary for Healthcare Interpreters. Besides, the project produced several high-level articles on the subject and organised a special course on medical interpreting

Maija Hirvonen (via University of Helsinki): Methods for Managing Audiovisual Data, MeMAD. EU/Horizon2020 (2018–2020)

(Coordinator: Mikko Kurimo/Aalto University; Hirvonen was the PI for University of Helsinki 2018–2019 until her appoitment at TAU in August 2019). This international, multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial research project developed automatic, language-based methods for managing, accessing and publishing digital audiovisual content in the Creative Industries and studied their applicability in various contexts of media use. The project and its results in the form of public deliverables can be found here:

Maija Hirvonen (PI): Multimodal Translation with the Blind. Academy of Finland (2017–2020)

The project studied collaboration and interaction between blind and sighted people in audio description teams and in live audio description. The project produced new knowledge of collaborative translation processes, shared cognition and meaning-making, and multimodal and asymmetric interaction with a multidisciplinary framework consisting of translation studies, linguistics (multimodal conversation analysis, interactional semantics) and cognitive science: The project also produced a video dataset to be archived and used in future research: 

Mehdi Ghasemi (PI): Toward a More Comprehensive and Inclusive Finnish Literature. PoDoCo & Finnish Cultural Foundation, University of Tampere and SKS (2018)

As a result of immigration from Finland, Finnish immigrants and their second and third generations have written literary works either in Finnish or other languages. This project aims to expand the scope of Finnish literature through detecting such authors and collecting their works to be included in the SKS archives and library. It also aims to increase the visibility, readability and research on a number of those works through writing some reviews or scholarly papers on an individual or group of writers or publishing an anthology of those authors and their works.

Mikhail Mikhailov (PI): The termbank of legal terms (Finnish-Russian). Cultura Foundation (2017)

The aim of the project is to develop an open online term bank of Finnish-Russian legal terms. The resource will be available for translator training at the universities of Finland. It will be also available to translators and interpreters of Russian.

Niina Lilja: Co-designing social interactions in everyday life. Emil Aaltonen Foundation (2017–2019)

This project investigates second language use and learning in the wild, that is in everyday interactions embedded in diverse sociocultural and material environments outside the classroom. We analyse language learning as an in situ process shaped by the participants’ situated practices and sensitive to the contingencies and material ecologies of different types of social activities. In addition, the project combines methods of interaction research and collaborative design to develop experiential language pedagogy that is based on the learners’ real life needs and places the language user at the centre of the learning process.

Päivi Pahta (PI), Minna Palander-Collin (PI): Democratization, Mediatization and Language Practices in Britain, 1700–1950 (DEMLANG). Academy of Finland (2016–2020), Research Consortium of University of Tampere and University of Helsinki

DEMLANG produces knowledge about the interrelatedness of the sociocultural processes of democratization and mediatization and changes in language practices in Britain over a period of 250 years (1700–1950). The major theoretical aim is to discover the mechanisms operating in the bidirectional relationship between sociocultural change and language change. DEMLANG investigates linguistic features that carry indexical meanings on different levels of discourse and are likely to be significant in understanding language change in relation to the sociocultural processes in focus. The relationship of language practices and sociocultural processes will be empirically studied in public texts mediating ideologies and values, e.g. newspapers, political speeches, parliamentary records, and novels.

Unni Leino (PI): Kielellisten populaatioiden muutos ajassa. Kone Foundation (2017–2021)

The project analysed ongoing changes in spoken Finnish and developed tools for modelling language change in sociolinguistic time frames.