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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

Arts Graduate as Expert in Public Administration

Working on administrative language at the Institute for the Languages of Finland is above all a question of influencing society. It not only requires expertise in language use but also knowledge of public administration as well as networking and contacts with various interest groups. Influencing society is therefore both the end and the means of our operations.

My own speciality is the language of public welfare and social services, in particular that of benefit decisions and their justifications. As a genre researcher, my area of expertise includes not only the texts themselves but the processes through which they are produced in various offices and bureaus, as well as how they are interpreted by the citizens, customers and patients who read them. Doing this allows one to build real administrative expertise. An expert on benefit applications has no shortage of employment opportunities, as the Social Insurance Institute (Kela) makes 10 million benefit decisions a year. My work includes training and consulting, but it can also lead me to deliver speeches at such places as the Disability Services Congress, the Open Finland event or the Parliament of Finland.

Recent years have been taken up by group work. I was in the the Ministry of Education and Culture’s administrative language working group, the group developing the system of insurance doctors for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the preparatory committee for the Open Government project for the Ministry of Finance.

Many of the problems in administrative texts are the result of other factors than the skills of their writers. That is why it is necessary to for us to work where administration is otherwise being developed. The production of texts is central to administration, and organisations have been set up largely for that purpose. However, new legislation alone is insufficient to change the way we use language.


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