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SCAND 342 A: Typological And Historical Perspectives On Finnish Language

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
MGH 284

Syllabus Description:


Typological and Historical Perspectives on Finnish Language

Visiting lecturer Ilmari Ivaska

Spring 2017


Course Information

5 credits
Room: MGH 284
Mon & Wed: 12:30-2:20
Office hour: Mon 2:30-3:30pm


Ilmari Ivaska
Office: Raitt 305-Y



The purpose of the course is to study Finnish language from the typological point-of-view both in its own right as well as in contrast to languages of the world in general. Furthermore, the course introduces the probable evolutionary development of Finnish language with regard to the settlement history and the typological characteristics, and relates it with the other languages of the Uralic and Finno-Ugric language family. Also language contacts with other surrounding languages are discussed. The course provides students with opportunities to gain, contextualize and deepen their knowledge about the nature and the origins of Finnish language and link it with the knowledge on other languages they know as well as language as a general concept. Crosslinguistic examples and comparisons are used throughout the course and encouraged also in the discussion. The course and the readings are in English, and no prior knowledge of Finnish language is needed.



In class we will attempt to contextualize the characteristics of Finnish language in the larger framework of the typology of the languages described in the assigned readings. Further, we will try to link Finnish language to a wider historical context and to the general mechanisms of language changes and contacts described also in the readings. This all is done by combining the readings with lectures and in-class discussions, and by applying the covered content in the assignments.



The goal of this course is to introduce the typological nature and the special characteristics of Finnish language, and to connect it to the broader framework of the languages of the world. The course aims in a general level at providing useful tools needed in describing different kinds of languages and linguistic phenomena, as well as to understand descriptions of the linguistic nature of different kinds of languages.

Another goal of the course is to understand the historical development of Finnish language, its relationship to other languages of the Uralic and Finno-Ugric language family, as well as the influences of language contacts with other languages. The course also aims at connecting these observations into a more general notion of the various ways languages can be related and connected to each other and also influence each other.

The ultimate goal is to understand the context of the aforementioned facets -- of language in general and of Finnish in particular -- in regard to historical shifts and events.



Velupillai, Viveka (2012):  An Introduction to Linguistic Typology.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: John Benjamins Publishing Company. (Required and available on UW Bookstore.)

Grünthal, Riho (2012): Introduction: an interdisciplinary perspective on prehistoric Northern Europe. – Riho Grünthal & Petri Kallio (eds), A Linguistic Map of Prehistoric Northern Europe pp. XI–XXVII. Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 266. (Required – distributed via Canvas.)

Ojutkangas, Krista (2000b): Grammaticalizing possessive constructions in Finnic: käsi 'hand' in Estonian and Finnish. – Johanna Laakso (eds), Facing Finnic. Some challenges to historical and contact linguistics pp. 137–155. Castrenianumin toimitteita 59. Helsinki.

Kallio, Petri (2012): The Prehistoric Germanic Loanword Strata in Finnic. – Riho Grünthal & Petri Kallio (eds), A Linguistic Map of Prehistoric Northern Europe pp. 225–238. Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 266. (Required – distributed via Canvas.)

In Class handouts and other readings distributed via Canvas by the instructor.



World Atlas of Linguistic Structures:
Automated Similarity Judgement Program:
UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database:
Phoible Online Phonological Inventories:



Students will be evaluated on four graded assignments, which should be completed and submitted by the listed due dates. In-class discussions are a major part of the course, and participation to the discussion will also affect the overall course grade. There will also be additional writing exercises, which are graded on a credit/no-credit basis and will be a substantial factor in the participation grade. There will also be a midterm and a final exam.



Participation:              [15%]
Assignments               [1 X 5% & 3 X 10% = 35%]
Exams                          [2 X 25% = 50%]

GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:29pm