Researcher of the Month: Anna Puupponen

Anna Puupponen - kuva: Tapio Laitinen
Photo: Tapio Laitinen


Kielipankki – The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. Anna Puupponen, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä tells us about how she makes use of the resources Corpus of Finnish Sign Language and ProGram data. The stories Snowman and Frog, where are you? in her research.

Who are you?

I am Anna Puupponen and I am working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Sign Language Centre at the University of Jyväskylä. I finalized my PhD in May 2019 and at the moment I am continuing my postdoctoral research on Finnish Sign Language (FinSL).

What is your research topic?

My doctoral research focused on a relatively understudied area of sign language linguistics: signers’ head and body movements. In the PhD project I studied actions of the signer’s head and body and the role that these actions play in structuring of language, in interaction and transfer of meanings.

I am currently doing research within various projects at the Sign Language Centre, focusing on embodied communication in signed situations, the similarities and the differences between the signing of adults and children, the sign language processing through neuroimaging, and the signing fluency of native signers and sign language learners.

How is the research work related to Kielipankki?

Several multimodal resources have been published in the Language Bank of Finland, Kielipankki, which I have participated in compiling and made use of in my research. A corpus comprising signed stories, the Snowfrog corpus ProGram data. The stories Snowman and Frog, where are you? was published in 2016 and the first part of the Corpus of Finnish Sign Language (Corpus FinSL) in 2019. In linguistic research on sign languages, corpus data can be seen as having an especially central role. Sign languages often have a weak status in the society, they lack well developed institutional standards, and their transmission from one generation to the next one is disturbed. In building descriptions and grammars of sign languages, it is important to study language-internal variation from extensive data sets. Sign language corpora are important also for the development of sign language teaching.

This data driven approach was in a central role in my PhD project. I used the sign language corpora published in Kielipankki in studies where I focused on the sequences of actions of the head and body, and the semiotic features of these sequences, in signed narratives and conversations. As the Snowfrog corpus and Corpus FinSL are very similar to the relevant corpora published on Swedish sign language with respect to the principles of compilation, I could also conduct a comparative study between Finnish and Swedish sign languages in my doctoral research.

Currently I’m using Corpus FinSL in a research project where we focus on the depictive language use of signers of different ages. The first part of The Corpus of Finnish Sign Language published in Kielipankki comprises signed narratives and discussions from 21 signers aged between 18 and 29 years. In the project we analyse Corpus FinSL data as well as data from children using FinSL collected in the VIKKE project hosted by the Sign Language Centre.

Publications related to the resource:

Puupponen, A. (2019). Understanding nonmanuality: A study on the actions of the head and body in Finnish Sign Language. PhD dissertation. University of Jyväskylä.
Puupponen, A. (2019). Towards understanding nonmanuality: A semiotic treatment of signers’ head movements. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 4(1): 39. 1–39. DOI:
Jantunen, T.; Mesch, J.; Puupponen, A. & Laaksonen, J. (2016). On the rhythm of head movements in Finnish and Swedish Sign Language sentences. In Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2016 [organized at Boston University, May 31–June 3, 2016], pp. 850–853
Press release of Anna Puupponen’s dissertation on the website of the University of Jyväskylä.

The developer’s point of view to the Corpus of Finnish Sign Language was presented in the interview of Juhana Salonen in May 2020.


The FIN-CLARIN consortium consists of a group of Finnish universities along with CSC – IT Center for Science and the Institute for the Languages of Finland (Kotus). FIN-CLARIN helps the researchers in Finland to use, to refine, to preserve and to share their language resources. The Language Bank of Finland is the collection of services that provides the language materials and tools for the research community.

All previously published Language Bank researcher interviews are stored in the Researcher of the Month archive.