Researcher of the Month: Tommi Kurki

Tommi Kurki

Photo: Kaisla Kurki


Kielipankki – The Language Bank of Finland is a service for researchers using language resources. Adjunct Professor, Senior Lecturer Tommi Kurki from the University of Turku tells us about how he makes use of the resources provided by Kielipankki.

Who are you?

I am Adjunct Professor in the Finnish language at the University of Turku and work there as a senior lecturer. My fields of expertise include sociolinguistics, especially language variation and change (in the Finnish language) and methodology in sociolinguistics. Currently, I am the principal investigator in Digilang, an infrastructure project where the digital linguistic research materials of the School of Languages and Translation Studies in the University of Turku are collected, organized and developed. (see Kurki & al. 2018).

What is your research topic and how is it related to the Language Bank of Finland?

I am interested in several linguistic topics, most of which have been connected with language change. In my early undergraduate years, I got familiar with longitudinal corpora, and this is probably why I have been interested in many types of Finnish corpora and especially longitudinal ones ever since. I have used at least the Follow-up Study of Dialects of Finnish corpus, the The Finnish Dialect Syntax Archive, Samples of Spoken Finnish and the Digital Morphology Archives. When examining the variation in Finnish, I have usually dealt with phonological, morphophonological and morphological features but during the past few years I have tried to extend my scope on prosodic features as well.

However, linguistic corpora have been an essential part of my career: collecting and processing material, compiling and developing corpora. In the 1990’s, I was recruited as a trainee to the Finnish Dialect Follow-up Project conducted by Kotus (the former Research Institute for the Languages of Finland, currently the Institute for the Languages of Finland). In the project, I wrote my MA thesis (1998a) and wrote two research reports (1998b, 1999) as a young researcher in Kotus. As part of the Follow-up Project, I also completed my doctoral thesis (2005) that dealt with the mechanisms of language change as well as the methodology of studying language change.

Until today, all the projects directed by me have been connected with spoken language and linguistic corpora. ”Linguistic Variation in the Province of Satakunta in the 21st Century” is a sociolinguistic project funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. In this project, over 200 local speakers were recorded, representing various age groups and 16 municipalities in Satakunta. Currently, this data is being morphologically and syntactically annotated. The corpus is to be made available in the Language Bank of Finland during the next few years. The data from this project and from the Samples of Spoken Finnish corpus (available in the Language Bank) have been analyzed for instance in Kurki & al., 2011.

The Regional and Social Variation in Finnish Prosody Project is funded by the Kone foundation and the Digilang project, and it was started in 2013 by my and my colleague PhD Tommi Nieminen (see for example Kurki & al. 2014). In this project, we compiled a sociophonetic corpus where speakers recorded their voices over the Internet in elicitation tasks. Representative sets of data from this corpus are being segmented and annotated. The objective of this project is to examine the prosody of Finnish and to pay more attention to regional and social variation than before. This corpus will also be available in the Language Bank of Finland in a few years.

Apart from my research projects, The Language Bank of Finland has been an integral part of my work as a lecturer and supervisor. When I was working in the Syntax Archive, one of my most important tasks was to introduce students to different linguistic corpora and to help them find good material for their BA and MA theses. Suitable examples and materials for my students were easy to find when I was giving courses on Finnish dialects and dialectology or on corpus linguistics. All the corpus projects I am running at the moment were originally planned so as to make the collected data available via the Language Bank of Finland. As a speech and language research expert, I have also participated in designing the Donate Speech campaign (by Vake) in collaboration with Professor Mikko Kurimo (from Aalto University) and the Language Bank of Finland.

Publications related to the resources:

Kurki, Tommi 1998a: Kui Kuivlahdel puhuta? Eurajoen vanhan murteen ja puhekielen vertailua sekä ikäryhmittäisten ja sukupuolikohtaistan erojen tarkastelua. Pro gradu ja suomen murteiden seuruuhankkeen osatutkimus (118 sivua + 39 liitesivua). Turun yliopisto, suomen kieli.

Kurki, Tommi 1998b: Kielellinen vaihtelu ja muutos Alastaron murteessa. Kotimaisten kielten tutkimuskeskuksen seuruuhankkeen tutkimusraportti. (79 sivua + 35 liitesivua). Helsinki: Kotus.

Kurki, Tommi 1999: Kielellinen vaihtelu ja muutos Pälkäneen murteessa. Kotimaisten kielten tutkimuskeskuksen seuruuhankkeen tutkimusraportti.  (114 sivua + 51 liitesivua). Helsinki: Kotus.

Kurki, Tommi 2005: Yksilön ja ryhmän kielen reaaliaikainen muuttuminen. Kielenmuutosten seuraamisesta ja niiden tarkastelussa käytettävistä menetelmistä. SKST 1036. SKS, Helsinki.

Kurki, Tommi, Siitonen, Kirsti, Väänänen, Milja, Ivaska, Ilmari & Ekberg, Jari 2011: Ensi havaintoja Satakuntalaisuus puheessa ‐hankkeesta. Sananjalka 53, 83–108. DOI:

Kurki, Tommi – Nieminen, Tommi – Kallio, Heini & Behravan, Hamid 2014: Uusi puhesuomen variaatiota tarkasteleva hanke. Katse kohti prosodisia ilmiöitä. – Sananjalka 56 s. 186–195. URN:

Kurki, Tommi – Inaba, Nobufumi – Kaivapalu, Annekatrin – Koponen, Maarit – Laippala, Veronika – Leblay, Christophe – Luutonen, Jorma – Mutta, Maarit – Nikulin, Markku & Reunanen, Elisa 2018: Digilang – Turun yliopiston digitaalisia kieliaineistoja kehittämässä. – Proceedings of the Research Data and Humanities (RDHum) 2019 Conference: Data, Methods and Tools, p. 41–56. Studia Humaniora Ouluensia 17. Oulu: University of Oulu. URN:



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.