English in globalized Finland

English in Finland

VARIENG, the Centre of Excellence for the Study of Variation, Contacts and Change in English, has been a shared undertaking of the University of Helsinki and the University of Jyväskylä. It was funded by the Academy of Finland (2006-2011).

The VARIENG research team in Jyväskylä has approached English from a multidisciplinary perspective. We see language use as social and discursive practice which entails people making meaningful choices which both reflect the local and more general contexts and at the same time contribute to the constitution of social action, identities and relationships. Language use is thus always both shaped by and shaping the social reality.

Our research has offered empirical-based up-to-date information about the implications of the global spread of English in the Finnish context. During the last few decades, the role of English has changed from being simply a foreign language into a language with important functions within Finnish society.

In our empirical investigations, we have examined uses and functions of English, for instance, in the social domains of the media, education as well as everyday and professional life. These domains have a significant role as contact zones through which English is spreading into Finnish society.

Our research interests:

  • Where, when and by whom is English used in globalized Finland?
  • What are the forms and patterns of English that are used?
  • How does the use of English vary across social domains, settings and text genres?
  • How does English come into contact with Finnish?
  • What are the situational, social, societal and cultural functions of English in Finland?
  • What do Finns think about English?
  • What range of ideological meanings are associated with English?