Researcher of the Month: Niina Kunnas

Niina Kunnas
Photo: Mikko Törmänen

Kielipankki – The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. Niina Kunnas tells us about her research on minority languages including, e.g., Meänkieli.

Who are you?

I am Niina Kunnas, Associate Professor of Finnish language and University Lecturer at the University of Oulu. I am also positioned as a part-time Professor of Finnish language at Sámi Allaskuvla in Koutokeino, Norway.

What is your research topic?

My research represents sociolinguistics, folklinguistics and minority language research. I have examined linguistic variation, language perceptions and situational variation in minority languages, among other things.

How is your research related to Kielipankki?

In recent years, Kielipankki has been involved in my research in a number of ways. Firstly, in 2019, I collected a corpus of spoken Meänkieli together with my students, which was originally recorded with the intention of making it available to researchers via Kielipankki. The corpus contains spoken Meänkieli from several Meänkieli-speaking municipalities in the Meänkieli-speaking area, and its collection has been encouraged by Heikki Paunonen. Some of the interviewees are the same as those previously recorded in the 1990s. Paunonen has also recorded speech from the same parishioners in the 1960s, so the material as a whole makes it possible to carry out a three-round follow-up study of spoken Meänkieli.

I have also recently made use of the Iijoki, the University of Oulu Päätalo Collection corpus on the Korp server. The corpus contains all the novels in the Iijoki series written by Kalle Päätalo and has a size of over 5 million tokens. Together with Liisa Mustanoja and Maija Saviniemi, we will use this data in our study of the function and the associated affects of the Viena Karelian episodes in the Iijoki series. The corpus has allowed us to search data rapidly, and the results of the study will be published in an article that will appear in a volume with the working title Päättymätön savotta. Analyyseja Kalle Päätalon tuotannosta (Timberwork without End. Analyses of Kalle Päätalo’s works).


Kunnas, Niina 2019: Karjalan kieli Oulun seudulla. – Harri Mantila, Maija Saviniemi & Niina Kunnas (toim.), Oulu kieliyhteisönä. 144–199. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.

Saviniemi, Maija, Kunnas, Niina, Mantila, Harri, Paukkunen, Ulla & Rajala, Elina 2019: Oulua havainnoimassa. – Harri Mantila, Maija Saviniemi & Niina Kunnas (toim.), Oulu kieliyhteisönä. 276–318. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.

Vaattovaara, Johanna, Kunnas, Niina & Saviniemi, Maija 2018: Stadi imitoituna. – Sisko Brunni, Niina Kunnas, Santeri Palviainen & Jari Sivonen (toim.), Kuinka mahottomasti nää tekkiit. Juhlakirja Harri Mantilan 60-vuotispäivän kunniaksi. Studia Humaniora Ouluensia 16. Oulun yliopisto.

Kunnas, Niina 2018: Viena Karelians as observers of dialect differences in their heritage language. – Marjatta Palander, Helka Riionheimo & Vesa Koivisto (eds.), On the border of language and dialect. 123–155. Studia Fennica Linguistica 21. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.

Language resources

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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, refine, preserve and 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. This article is also published on the website of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Helsinki.