Researcher of the Month: Nobufumi Inaba

Nobufumi Inaba
Photo: Krista Teeri

Kielipankki – The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. Nobufumi Inaba tells us about a corpus that he is preparing, which contains a text from the year 1526 and is an interesting source for researchers studying language change.

Who are you?

I am Nobufumi Inaba, Senior Researcher at the Archive of Finnish and Finno-Ugric languages at the University of Turku. The Archive is part of the Department of Finnish and Finno-Ugric Languages and it has only been operating under this name for a couple of years. The Finnish language part of the Archive, for which I am responsible, was formerly known as the Syntax Archive. Many Finnish language researchers are probably familiar with the corpus of the same name. I have been involved in the planning and implementation of eg. technical solutions for the projects in our department and for the corpora produced in our Archive. I have also created tools to be used internally by our corpus teams.

What is your research topic?

I have been interested in studying language change and its causes. In my dissertation, I investigated the roots of the so-called dative genitive in Finnish and my research data consisted mostly of texts from old literary languages. In recent years, I have been studying the phenomenon of leaving out the inflection of words in Finnish. My data consists of chat conversations in a location-based game community and of the speech recordings I collected at the game locations.

Currently, I am investigating old literary language again. I am preparing a corpus of the 1526 Swedish New Testament, one of the source texts used by Mikael Agricola. This New Testament has been seen as a symbol of the beginning of the Modern Swedish period. The forthcoming corpus is intended to support the study of the language of Agricola’s works. The importance of the text is not merely symbolic. In my opinion, this earlier New Testament text is a much more valuable source for those interested in linguistic changes than the whole Bible of 1541 (Gustav Vasas bibel). It does not seem to contain regulated language in contrast to the whole Bible that includes many attempts to regulate and harmonize linguistic elements all the way from vocabulary to syntax. Moreover, the 1526 New Testament contains a striking number of elements from spoken language, which the 1541 Bible largely attempted to eliminate. The preliminary coding of the text in order to facilitate annotation is now complete and I expect to start the annotation work in the autumn of 2023.

How is your research related to Kielipankki?

We have had a good division of labour with Kielipankki ever since the days of the Syntax Archive. The University of Turku produces language resources that are published via Kielipankki for the use of the scientific community. The Finnish Dialect Corpus of the Syntax Archive and The Morpho-Syntactic Database of Mikael Agricola’s Works, produced in cooperation with the Institute of the Languages of Finland, as well as the Arkisyn corpus, an important annotated collection of contemporary Finnish produced at the University of Turku, have all been published via the Korp service in Kielipankki. Naturally, Kielipankki will also be the publication site for the Swedish-language New Testament corpus that I am currently working on.


Nobufumi Inaba (2015). Suomen datiivigenetiivin juuret vertailevan menetelmän valossa. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran toimituksia 272.

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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.