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Jan Lindström

Jan Krister Lindström
Born April 4, 1964, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1990 (Scandinavian languages), Licentiate 1993 and PhD 1999, University of Helsinki

Teaching assistant, Scandinavian languages, 2002-04, acting professor 2005, 2007-08, professor 2008–, University of Helsinki
Vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts 2010-13, University of Helsinki
Director of the Faculty for Scandinavian Languages and Literature 2006-09, University of Helsinki
Research doctor 2002-05, the Samtalsspråkets grammatik – Grammar in Conversation project, University of Helsinki (Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences)
Linguistics working group member 1998, Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Research themes:
Interactional linguistics, language contact and Fenno-Swedish, construction grammar, language policy

Oskar Öflund Foundation award 2012
Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland prize for academic monographs 2009
Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland prize for doctoral dissertations 2000

Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Written by Jan Lindström (Tomas Sjöblom ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Structures of Spoken Language—a Veritable Goldmine

It seems I have always been inclined towards spoken language research. As a student I was interested in sociolinguistics, and later on pragmatics. I wrote my master’s thesis on colloquial expressions in newspaper articles, my licentiate’s thesis on the similarities and differences between spoken and written languages, and my dissertation on repetition in both speech and writing. However, it was not until the Samtalsspråkets Grammatik project that I delved into conversation analysis and communication studies. It was an exciting time, because we were—though we would only realise it later—pioneers of a new direction in linguistics which came to be known as interactional linguistics.

To me it was natural to approach spoken language phenomena from a perspective that systematised linguistic structures. That was perhaps because I had already been teaching Swedish grammar for several years. Svenska Akademien’s grammar of Swedish had just been published, and it was soon followed by Iso suomen kielioppi, a reference book of Finnish grammar by the Finnish Literature Society. I was inspired to write my own book on interactional linguistics and spoken language: Tur och ordning – introduktion till svensk samtalsgrammatik.

I am in the habit of telling my students that studying the structures of spoken language is a veritable goldmine. It is still to a large degree uncharted territory because to date much language research is based on what is common in written language. Oral communication operates on completely different terms. It is a great privilege to have a centre of excellence that focuses on these questions—Intersubjectivity in Interaction. I am a member of the executive committee, and together with Ritva Laury I head the team investigating Verbal and Non-Verbal Resources for Action Construction.

I am also pleased to have collaborated on a research project with political scientists from Svenska social- och kommunalhögskolan, through which I have come to experience inter-disciplinary research. I am referring to the DYLAN-project of 2007-2012 (Language Diversity and Managements of Diversity), in which we studied language conventions in the university environment. At the same time I also gained experience of how a large-scale EU project operates. It can be at once rewarding and frustrating.

Jan Lindström after an autumn hike with his colleagues from Nordica. Photo by Pirjo Kukkonen.


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