Multimodality entails a multidisciplinary approach in which interaction is thought to involve much more than spoken language. The FiDiPro project, which focuses on multimodality, asks the following questions: How do different multimodal dimensions connect in social interaction, and how are they coordinated? How can we conceptualise a temporal model of human action which considers simultaneous, flexible and dynamic interaction through speech and body movement? How can such complex relations be expressed, and how can their connections be demonstrated?
The project focuses on face-to-face interaction, which is a crucial environment for embodied and linguistic interaction. The project seeks to make significant academic contributions to research on human interaction.
Languages which are spoken in more than one country are called pluricentric. The Interaction and Variation in Pluricentric Languages (IVIP) project studies the way Swedish is used in two different countries. The project compares similar conversations conducted in similar environments in Finland and Sweden. The conversations have been collected in customer service, education and health care, contexts where most of the interaction outside the home takes place. The project participates in international work as it develops the theory of pluricentric linguistics and variational pragmatics. In addition, the project will generate a database which will benefit research projects in the future, in cooperation with the Swedish language bank (Språkbanken).
The language kitchen project involved the creation of new language learning materials and the use of digital sensors which react to their environment in a task-based language-learning setting. In the project, digital sensors were attached to kitchen utensils and ingredients, giving language learners cooking in the kitchen immediate linguistic feedback as they moved the objects. The users of this method learned vocabulary and grammar in a targeted way. In a classroom, learners typically practice the language and are not completing everyday chores, and bringing a foreign culture into the classroom can be difficult. In the language kitchen, students of Finnish learned the language while completing a practical real-world chore and getting first-hand experience of Finnish culinary culture. The project was a part of the European LanCook project, in which seven working mobile kitchens were built, each one suitable for learning seven languages and the associated culinary cultures. Each language kitchen consists of a laptop and kitchen utensils with sensors.
The goal of the project was to promote lifelong learning, vocational and higher education, learning of the seven project languages and linguistic diversity. The research has a profound impact on the language kitchen users, and the freely available technology can be used in other contexts.
The last few years have seen a surge of interest in the comparative study of language and social behaviour in naturally occurring interaction across cultures. Common and distinctive features of natural interaction in different cultures have been a particular point of interest. This growing field has been sometimes referred to as pragmatic typology or comparative conversation analysis. Recent work in this area has developed innovative methods and generated new, exciting results. As the field grows, however, so does the need for better structured and comparable cross-linguistic data.
The aim of this project is to construct a parallel video corpus of informal interaction in several European languages, and to develop a protocol for the collection of comparable data, with parameters both for the interactions to be sampled (e.g., settings, activities, participants) and for the recording set-up. Such a protocol will then be shared with the larger community to advance and expand the database for cross-linguistic research and to foster an international network for the comparative study of language and social interaction.
This project examines the role of prosody – generally understood as the acoustic-auditory post-lexical features of speech — in distinguishing the pragmatic function of next-turn repetitions in conversation across five languages: English, Finnish, French, Italian, and Finland Swedish. Next-turn repetitions are a recurrent conversational phenomenon that involves the lexical repetition of all or part of a speaker’s turn by another speaker in the next turn. The repetitions in focus are those that problematise the repeated material and solicit a response by the original speaker, which often involves repairing a conversational problem. Previous research has shown that such repetitions can accomplish a range of pragmatic functions. But how do speakers distinguish different functions? And how do recipients know what to respond? The aim of this project is to examine the role played in this process by prosody, together with other interactional resources, and to do so from a cross-linguistic perspective, drawing on methods from linguistics, conversation analysis and multimodal analysis, and bringing together both a qualitative and a quantitative approach.
The project seeks methods which can support situational language learning alongside work. The focus of the research is the language learner’s independent learning supported by the environment as part of normal, authentic work situations. The research environment for the sub-project is a hospital, as the social and health care sector is a major employer of the immigrant population.
The purpose of the sub-project is to survey existing methods and to develop concrete tools which can be used to support situational language learning as a part of everyday work in a multilingual professional community. The goal is to provide employees with tools to support their language skills and motivation for the independent study of languages. The Finnish-speaking coworkers receive tools which they can use to help the development of the language skills of their colleagues.
Units of Grammar and Interaction is a research project co-funded by the Academy of Finland and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The project studies the role of linguistic units in interaction. Recent research shows that when using language in conversation, speakers do not rely solely on grammatical building blocks but also on conventionalised formulas, bodily gestures and contextual information. Recently, it has even been questioned whether the units of language as traditionally identified by linguists are cross-linguistically valid, and, on the other hand, whether they have anything at all to do with how participants in actual conversation operate. We seek to shed new light on this debate and investigate conversational data from different languages in order to determine whether, or to what degree, linguistically defined units are in fact relevant to participants in the conversation.
Art as work and a tool is a three-year joint project of interaction researchers and artists. The project studies and develops the Summer Job project for young adults, produced by the URB Festival at Kiasma Theatre together with the City of Helsinki. The project examines what kinds of topics and skills can be learned through art, how art influences the creation of a sense of community, how the summer job project impacts the lives and choices of the participants, and how the methods of professional artists construct and reflect the goals and conventions of creating art. The results will be presented through both academic and artistic means. The project will produce both academic and popular publications and produce a documentary film about the participants in the summer job project.