Researcher of the Month: Tommi Jantunen

photo: Martti Minkkinen

The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. University of Jyväskylä academy researcher in Language and Communication Studies Tommi Jantunen describes his research on the ProGram corpus.

Who are you?

I am Tommi Jantunen and I work as an academy researcher of the Finnish sign language at the Department of Language and Communication Studies of the University of Jyväskylä.

What is your research topic?

I study the structure of sign language from various perspectives. At the moment, my focus is on the sentence structure of the Finnish sign language, and especially how gestures in signing affect the sentence structure. At the same time, I study the collaboration of different parts of the body and their roles in producing sign language sentences. My research is based on various sign language video corpora and also methodically utilizes state-of-the-art computer vision and motion capture technology.

How is your research related to the Language Bank?

My research is related to my project funded by the Academy of Finland for the years 2013–2018 called ”Näkökulmia suomalaisen viittomakielen kielioppiin ja prosodiaan” (’Viewpoints on the grammar and prosody of the Finnish sign language’). The main goal of the project is to produce new data especially about the syntax of the Finnish sign language and thus build the foundation for further compiling the grammar of the Finnish sign language. Another goal is to participate in developing sign language corpora.

How is the Language Bank related to your project?

Some of the sign language corpus of the project was published in the Language Bank’s LAT interface in spring 2016. In practice, the published corpus is a small sample of video material in which native sign language speakers tell each other frog and snowman stories in the Finnish sign language. The video material has been annotated on various levels (including signs, sentences and translations), and the material also includes data produced using computer vision analysis of each signer’s head, eye and mouth motions. The corpus is freely available to researchers in the Language Bank of Finland.

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.