Department of English

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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    On the Maintenance and Use of Heritage Finnish among Today’s North American Finnish Migrants: A Survey
    (Transnational Finnish Mobilities, 2019) Halmari, Helena
    In this chapter, I discuss the maintenance of the Finnish language among today’s North American ethnic Finns, those who have migrated from Finland into North America relatively recently, and, most pronouncedly, after the Great Migration years from Finland during the transition to the twentieth century. I am specifically interested in the patterns of the use and maintenance of Finnish among this group of new migrants, whose life circumstances are drastically different from the lives of the old migrant population (for accounts of the latter, see, e.g., Virtanen 1975; Virtaranta et al. 1993; Kero 1996; Alanen 2012; Kostiainen 2014; for studies on contemporary Finnish North Americans, see, e.g., Korkiasaari & Roinila 2005; Kiriakos 2014; Leinonen 2011a, 2011b, 2012, 2013, 2014a, 2014b). The pattern of the old-wave migrant population typically showed strong maintenance of Finnish by the first generation and speedy linguistic assimilation to the mainstream (i.e., acquisition of English) by the second generation (cf., e.g., Valdes 2005, 2006). Describing the situation of old-wave Finnish migrants, Martin and Jönsson-Korhola (1993) argue that the command of Finnish was not regarded as important; sometimes it was considered even embarrassing.2 What this chapter begins to explore is whether the higher socioeconomic status and higher education levels of the recent Finnish migrants (see Leinonen 2011a; Habti & Koikkalainen 2014; Warinowski 2016) may have influenced a change in how the command of Finnish is regarded. Is there, for instance, an articulated effort to pass heritage Finnish on to the next generation? With a limited population, this exploratory study contributes to the larger field of heritage language maintenance by looking at what ethnic Finns in North America — a minority within minorities — think about their heritage language and what measures they take to try to pass that language to the next generation (on heritage languages and their maintenance in North America, see, i.a., Fishman 1991; Kainulainen 1993; Peyton, Ranard & McGinnish 2001; Valdes 2005, 2006; Polinsky & Kagan 2007; Kelleher 2010).
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    On the Grammar and Rhetoric of language mixing in Piers Plowman
    (Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 2002) Halmari, Helena
    In excerpt (1) below, the Dreamer of Langland’s Piers Plowman is expressing his dissatisfaction with friars; the passage is a typical example of what is often called “macaronic language” - a conventionalized style where two languages (here Middle English and Latin, or a few times French) are mixed in a happy combination for fairly well-documented rhetorical purposes. In line (4) the Latin prepositional phrase In fame et frigore conjoins the Middle English NP flappes of scourges; lines (5) and (12-13) exemplify full clauses, with Biblical associations, in Latin. That Langland’s virtuoso combining of Latin and English is a result of careful planning is shown by his occasional, extremely pointed metalinguistic comments,
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    Finnish Women in Gainesville, Florida
    (Siirtolaisuus – Migration, 2010) Halmari, Helena; Halmari-Meneses, Irene
    In this article, we take a look at Gainesville, a northern Florida university town, as a sample of today’s (2010) Finnish-American immigration patterns. The Gainesville area has a history of Finnish immigration, but, as elsewhere in the United States, the stereotypical immigrant has changed from a male laborer more to an educated woman. We base the article on interviews with eleven Finnish women living in Gainesville. What the interviews show is that all these women treasure their Finnish heritage and their Finnish or bicultural identity. They maintain contacts with Finland, intend to maybe return there one day, and attempt to pass the Finnish language to their children. These women differ from the typical immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: in addition to being highly educated and of a higher socio-economic class, they live in a different world where visiting the ‘Old Country’ is often an annual possibility, where Finnish language can be accessed via the internet, DVDs, telephones, and Skype, and where returning to Finland is not out of the question. Yet, these Finnish women struggle to pass their Finnish cultural identity and the Finnish language to their children, and just like the Finnish immigrants a century ago, they feel a sense of community, being brought together by the mere common denominator of Finnishness.
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    Language Mixing as a Persuasive Strategy in Oxford, MS Bodley
    (Medieval Worlds, 2021) Halmari, Helena
    One of the salient features of Oxford, MS Bodley 649, a fifteenth-century sermon collection, is its frequent switching from Latin to English - and back to Latin again. Building on Wenzel’s (1994) groundbreaking work on macaronic sermons, I discuss the rhetorical characteristics of English elements in MS Bodley 649, with the purpose of showing that language mixing in this collection is not random but rather one of the rhetorical devices that the author uses for persuasion. The English elements are frequently used to build grammatical cohesion through structural parallelism. Also, lexical and semantic cohesion are achieved via repetition of the same words in both languages or through English paraphrases of Latin scriptural content. Alliteration, another rhetorical device, often coincides with language switches within the sermons. I hope to show that, together with other rhetorical strategies, mixing English into Latin constitutes one means within an entire bundle of linguistic devices that all contribute to the persuasive purpose of the genre. As a preliminary finding of some work in progress, I report on the nature of the English words mixed into these highly scholastic and often allegorical sermons. The English elements within the sermons tend to provide content that is mundane, or objectionable (from the point of view of Christian conduct and goals), or even merely negative (if not repulsive). An important conclusion is that none of the rhetorical strategies that overlap with code-switching into English are used mechanically and systematically by the sermonist; the coincidence of the bundled persuasive features is never predictable. However, this does not mean that mixing English elements into Latin in MS Bodley 649 should be characterized as random. A persuasive sermon is not tamely predictable in its delivery; it must offer surprises as audience-engagement strategies. The most salient surprises in MS Bodley 649 are provided by the English elements.
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    Dividing the world: The dichotomous rhetoric of Ronald Reagan
    (Multilingua, 1993) Halmari, Helena
    The language of politics often divides our world into two groups: those who share our own values, and those who supposedly oppose them. Ex-President Ronald Reagan was a master of the use of dichotomous language. His dichotomies were most clearly present in his descriptions of the U.S.- Soviet relations and the American and the Soviet military. The military build-up on the American side was exculpated, while the Soviet military build-up was vilified. With the change of the Soviet leadership in 1985, Reagan’s dichotomous thinking was challenged, and towards the end of Reagan’s presidency a slight change in his rhetoric can be noticed: he started to acknowledge a good side to the Soviet Union; however, there was often a tendency to denigrate the observed good. New areas of dichotomies arose, and vilification flourished till the end of his presidency.
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    Structural relations and Finnish-English code switching
    (Linguistics, 1993) Halmari, Helena
    While several initially convincing code-switching theories have been proposed, the introduction of a new pair of code-switched languages often seems to present puzzles to the earlier proposed constraints. In this paper I will present data from Finnish-English code switching, attempting to explain the constraints on intrasentential switches in this language, which relies heavily on inflectional morphology. I will suggest that, despite the fact that many of the earlier proposed code-switching constraints seem to fail to explain the Finnish-English data, no special new code-switching theory is needed to account for the Finnish-English facts, but the general syntactic principle of government can account for the constraints on intra- sentential switching. The most characteristic feature of Finnish-English code switching is morphological assimilation to Finnish. This can be explained by the government constraint: insertion of lexical items to terminal nodes from English is always possible, provided that case and agreement morphology are in Finnish when in government relation with Finnish elements. This paper thus gives support to the basic idea of the government constraint proposed by Di Sciullo et al. (1986) and suggests a minor reformulation to their theory. The paper also provides independent evidence for the decomposed Finnish IP-structure (Mitchell 1991).
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    The Monster's Language Acquisition in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein: How Far is Fiction from Fact?
    (2016-09) Halmari, Helena
    A presentation was given by Dr. Helena Halmari on the monster's acquisition of language in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, with special reference to how this process differs from what happens in reality when children acquire their first language or adults learn their second languages. A video of the presentation is available on YouTube at