The Helsinki Area & Language Studies (HALS) initiative is an offshoot of the LDHFTA (= Linguistic Diversity: Historical, Functional and Typological Approaches) research community. LDHFTA was assessed as among the most successful research clusters at the Univ. of Helsinki (UH) in the past research evaluation. HALS intends to keep this positive momentum and will serve as an intellectual, and hopefully in the future also a very practical, support structure at the UH for language studies that take into account linguistic diversity, language contact and historical linguistics and which are thoroughly grounded in the cultural context of the speaker communities (linguistic ethnographies, language descriptions, as well as documentation projects).
The core group contains PIs from the following fields (in no particular order): General linguistics, Finno-Ugric studies, Slavonic studies, Asian studies, and African and Middle-Eastern studies. Currently active members of a steering group include Ulla-Maija Forsberg, Riho Grünthal, Ekaterina Gruzdeva, Juha Janhunen, Jouko Lindstedt, Matti Miestamo, and Janne Saarikivi. Axel Fleisch was also a founding member. Andrei Dumitrescu coordinates a range of tasks in connection with HALS; previous coordinators have been Jouni Harjumäki, Stephan Schulz, and Nicklas Bahrt.
The first major project of HALS was organizing four summer schools with field site visits that were carried out over the years 2013-2016. Funding received as a result of the successful evaluation of the LDHFTA research community (coordinated by J. Janhunen) was used for this purpose. If you are interested in the reports or results of these trips, please, navigate to Linguistic field trips.
In the spring of 2021, HALS members decided to change the full name of the group to HALS – Helsinki Diversity Linguistics Group, in order to better reflect the research interests of the group’s members. However, the former acronym HALS was preserved as a short name for the group.