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Ulla Tiililä

Ulla Marika Elisabeth Tiililä
Born July 7, 1963, Helsinki

BA 1993 and PhD 2007 (Finnish Language), University of Helsinki

Docent at the University of Helsinki 2014
Consulting officer and researcher at the Institute for the Languages of Finland (Kotus), 2005–
Part-time work as an hourly teacher, research assistant, (senior) researcher and instructor at Kotus
Member of the Selkokeskus (‘simplified language centre’) advisory committee
Member of the editorial board of Virittäjä academic journal
Member of the Langnet supervisor pool
Member of the preparatory group for Open Government Partnership Initiative at the Ministry of Finance, 2013–14
Member of the Ministry of Education and Culture’s official languages working group, 2013
Member of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s insurance physician organisation development group, 2013

Research themes combine genre and official language research
Principal investigator of various Kotus projects (Tekstualisoituva julkishallinto, Perustelut päätöksissä, Ideaalikieli ja kirjoittamisen käytännöt)

Awards and special achievements
Afinlandia Prize for an outstanding Doctor’s thesis in applied linguistics, 2004–07
August Ahlqvist, Yrjö Wichmann, Kai Donner and Artturi Kannisto Foundations’ Dissertation Award, 2008
Society for the Study of Finnish’s E. A. Saarimaa Foundation Board’s Stipend for articles about the standardisation of language, 1994

Written by Ulla Tiililä (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Joe McVeigh

Aiming for Theoretically Sound Popular Science

My work requires me to jump from one group of experts to another, and the majority of my collaborators are from fields outside linguistics. That is why it is important to not only put the results of research to concrete use but also to make one’s own field comprehensible to others.

Research findings can seldom be directly applied to real-life situations, because those who apply them have to take, say, pedagogical factors into consideration: the results can be so nuanced that they cannot be used to make recommendations when it comes to language use. The technology used to produce texts, for instance the information system, can in turn prevent the application of unmodified new ideas.

Application often goes hand in hand with popularisation. One of the ways I have worked towards this end has been by writing over 200 articles, mainly columns and causeries, for popular publications. I have also written regular causeries for the radio, for instance as part of a series called “language minute.” When you have only one minute, you learn to be concise!

I have had to put some thought into application and popularisation as part of my work as an instructor. I created a modified version of my Master’s thesis for proofreading, which is still occasionally used in language revision, copy editing and planning. I Recently examined a language clause in administrative law in the light of theories on the versatility of language. I have also used the multipurpose nature of language and assumptions on the relationship between language and context as the basis for forensic linguistic analysis. The possibility of combining theory with empiricism in a wide variety of ways must be one the best aspects of my work.

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