Palander-Collin, Minna

Acting Professor (2009-2010), PhD, Docent

Room: C609

Consultation: by appointment

Telephone national: (09) 191 23154
Telephone international: + 358 9 191 23154

E-mail: minna.palander-collin(at)helsinki.fi

Research interests:

Briefly, I suppose the core question is – to quote Allan Bell – “Why did this person say it this way on this occasion?”

I have recently joined the English Department again after spending two years as a research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, where I had a project called “Language Variation and Change in Social Context: Constructing Identities in Written English 1450-1900?”. One of the major outcomes of this research period is the book The Language of Daily Life in England (1400-1800), jointly edited by Arja Nurmi, Minna Nevala and me. I deal with language as an interactional resource for signalling group memberships and social togetherness as well as separation and difference from other groups, focusing on patterns of interaction and communicative styles and changes in them in the history of English. Most of my research explores language use and identity construction in personal letters included in the Corpus of Early English Correspondence, but recently I have also studied early English advertisements. At the beginning of 2009, we launched a new project “Language and Identity: Variation and Change in Patterns of Interaction in the History of English” with Minna Nevala and Anni Sairio. The project is funded by the University of Helsinki (2009-2011).

Secondly, I am interested in language learning, particularly the development of advanced literacy, or register skills, and sociolinguistic variation in learner language. Another project “Variation in English Written by Finns” explores these issues, and also links to the theme of language and identity, as for instance advanced literacy skills are part and parcel of being a high-level professional in many international settings. I have collected a small corpus, so-far only in private use, of entrance exam essays written in English by Finnish university applicants. Time permitting, I carry out this line of research, and would suggest something along these lines as a possible master’s thesis topic for our students.

Most recently, I have become involved in multidisciplinary cooperation around an intriguing but also controversial topic of language and evolution, which is part of the Kone Foundation special programme “Evolutionary perspectives on the human sciences”. We are a team of linguists and biologists as well as two post-graduate students (one biologist, one linguist) in the project “Empiirinen tutkimus ja teoreettiset ja metodologiset seuraukset” [Dialects from the perspective of biological evolution. Empirical research and theoretical and methodological consequences] lead by Urho Määttä (University of Tampere).
I am a member and Domain 2 co-ordinator of the Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English. I act as the Director of a multidisciplinary postgraduate studies network called Meaning, Language and Changing Cultures, founded originally in 2002 by four Academy of Finland funded Centres of Excellence in the Humanities at the University of Helsinki.