History of speech communication

The tradition of speech communication as a field of study is 2500 years old. Its roots lie in the ancient study of rhetoric. Modern speech communication research started in the United States and grew rapidly in the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays, Speech Communication can be studied as a major subject in hundreds of universities across the world.

In Finland, the earliest tradition of Speech Communication goes together with the teaching traditions of oral interpretation and public speaking in the 17th century. Public education and oral interpretation traditions had a strong influence on the idea of rhetoric in the beginning of the 20th century. Education in rhetorics, and particularly in pronunciation, use of voice, and oral interpretation, merged into the so-called Finnish Language Movement. Education in oral interpretation and public speaking was spread into Finnish universities in the 1960s. The name Speech Communication was first used for this area of higher education at the University of Jyväskylä in the 1980s.

Nowadays, the University of Jyväskylä is the center of speech communication research and professional education in Finland. Degree programs in the discipline started in 1980. The first doctoral thesis in Speech Communication in Finland, Aino Sallinen’s ”Finnish Communication Reticence”, was published in 1986. By the summer of 2012, approximately 330 Masters of Arts have graduated from the University of Jyväskylä. Moreover, 24 Licentiates of Philosophy and 18 Doctors of Philosophy have completed their studies in Speech Communication.