Researcher of the Month: Marko Pantermöller

Marko Pantermöller

photo: Kilian Dorner

The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. Marko Pantermöller, professor of Finnish language and culture at the University of Greifswald describes his research on The Newspaper and Periodical Corpus of the National Library of Finland.

Who are you?

I am Marko Pantermöller, a German Finnicist, and I am working as the professor of Finnish language and culture at the University of Greifswald. At Greifswald, the study of Finnish language has a long tradition since the beginning of the 1920’s.

What is your research topic?

I am interested in the long-term change processes of language and the change mechanisms behind them. In my most recent study, I discuss types of expressions that are presently in competition in a given context, such as ”lämpötila nousee yli kolmenkymmenen asteen” vs. ”lämpötila nousee yli kolmeenkymmeneen asteeseen”. The latter, already established structure is likely to stick out to people with a normative perspective to language or who, like myself, have learned Finnish guided by normative language didactics. The structure is linguistically interesting because it appears to simultaneously express crossing a border and reaching an end point. Hence, I call this structure pseudoterminative.

The study on the pseudoterminative structure is an empirical pilot study which is a part of my broader research project on the development of expressions of approximate quantities.

How is your research related to the Language Bank?

In the pilot study, I applied two empirical methods of different nature known as quasi-time and real-time methods. The quasi-time method was based on the results of a broad questionnaire. In the questionnaire, over a thousand participants of various ages expressed their opinion about the competing expression types. I was able to model the possible development of language by beginning with the assumption that older people’s use of language represents an earlier stage of language development and vice versa.

I sought and discovered confirmation for my initial hypothesis in the Newspaper and Periodical Corpus of the National Library of Finland deposited in the Language Bank’s Korp service. Utilizing the corpus, I found the answer to the question when the pseudoterminative structure first appeared in newspaper language. I was also able to monitor in real time in which context the change originated and how the use of pseudoterminative structure slowly proliferated. I used Korp’s export function to post-process the excerpts. Using the large newspaper corpus was facilitated by the fact that the corpus is ordered purely chronologically. I used the Language Bank’s Digital Morphology Archive to verify the informants’ claims about the expression’s possible dialectal origin.

Information about the Newspaper and Periodical Corpus of the National Library of Finland (in Finnish)

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.