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Jan-Ola Östman

Jan-Ola Ingemar Östman
Born October 14, 1951, Solf

Doctor of Philosophy 1986 (linguistics), University of California, Berkeley
MA (FM) 1977 and MPhil (FL) 1981 (English language and literature), Åbo Akademi University
Master of Arts 1976 (linguistic science), Reading University

Associate professor 1989–1998 and full professor of English philology 1998-2002, acting professor of general linguistics 1993–1996, professor of Scandinavian languages 2002-, University of Helsinki
Professor II (part-time) of Scandinavian languages 2006–2010, University of Tromsø, Norway

Director of the doctoral program for language studies at the University of Helsinki 2013-

Research interests
Pragmatics, discourse and media; construction grammar and construction discourse; minorities, dialects, language contact, identity and variability; language policy, sociology of language, ideology and applied linguistics

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Photo: Leila Mattfolk
Written by Jan-Ola Östman (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)

The University of Helsinki – quality and multilingualism

The University of Helsinki stands for quality

What I value most at the University of Helsinki is the high quality of the university. This applies equally to research, to teaching, and to the mediation of research findings to the public. Singapore lists, Shanghai lists and other lists are there for everyone to see. I am sad to notice that the aspect of quality of education often lies low on new students’ criteria for how to choose their own scholarly future. One of the basic requirements for high quality is a working cooperation across departments and across disciplines; this criterion, too, is satisfied at the University of Helsinki.

Jan-Ola Östman has been involved in developing the University language policy.

A multilingual university

I am extremely pleased that it is virtually always possible to function in Swedish at the University of Helsinki. Sure, multilingualism does not come easy, and one has to be very active oneself and constantly work to keep up the university’s bilingual status. But that’s the way it always is with truly important issues.

In the spring of 2015 the university’s unit for Swedish matters awarded me a prize for having worked for the benefit of the bilingual status of the university. This made me very proud indeed, and I want to add that I truly appreciate the co-operation that exists between teachers and the administrative personnel at the university – on all levels. But one simply cannot sit back and wait for things to happen in this matter either; one has to make an effort, a real effort in order to get things working smoothly. I am very concerned about, and work for the University of Helsinki to remain a bilingual (Finnish-Swedish) university. But in view of the internationalization of the university, English is a very welcomed third language at the university.

A natural multilingualism at the University is one of the goals Jan-Ola Östman is working for.


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