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Language-specific and universal features in learner language

Research project The main object of the project Corpus study on language-specific and universal features in learner language is to shed light on the nature of learner language (LL). The project is led by docent Jarmo Harri Jantunen, Oulu University.

The focus of the project is twofold: first, it aims to study so-called learner language universals (LLUs), i.e. features that exist in learner language in spite of the learner’s target and source language. Secondly, the object is to investigate language-specific features, namely features that are present only in one specific learner language but cannot be found in other LLs. In this project, the language-specific features are studied using Finnish learner language as comparable data for learner language in general and for languages studied earlier.

Head of project

Tuija Määttä
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2007-01-01 2011-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Language Studies

Research area

Language studies, Modern languages

Project description

The study will be based on electronic material, the International Corpus of Learner Finnish (ICLFI), which will be compiled during the project in 2008-2011. The data for the corpus will be compiled with the help of the foreign universities around the world in which Finnish is studied as a foreign language. The corpus will consist of Finnish learners’ spontaneously produced texts in language learning situations. The corpus will help to clarify the specific characteristics of LL and also in order to make more relevant support material for learning, such as dictionaries and educational material.

The project has societal impressiveness. The findings will lead to the better understanding of the realization of learner language, which is an everyday phenomenon in Nordic countries due to the vast number of immigrants and language learners in these countries. Identifying the features of learner language gives a more realistic picture of language not only to the person who learns it but also to the person who receives the LL output. Furthermore, this basic research prepares the way for applied research.