Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anneli Sarhimaa

Professorin der SNEB

Email: sarhimaa@uni-mainz.de
Sprechstunde:  Do, 12 - 13 Uhr (im Wintersemester 2017/18)
Raum: 01-584
Telefon: 06131 / 39-23081



Anneli Sarhimaa is the professor of the Northern European and Baltic languages and cultures at the University of Mainz since 2002. She coordinates the international, interdisciplinary project ELDIA (European Language Diversity for All; ww.eldia-project.org) since 2007; the project is financed with 2.7 Million Euro from the 7th Framework Program of the EU in the period of 1.3.2010 – 31.8.2013. Sarhimaa got her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Helsinki in 1999 and was nominated a Docent (Germ. Privatdozentin) in Finnic languages and linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities of the Helsinki University in 2002. She has studied and worked in Finland, Russia, the Netherlands and Germany, and has broad international academic experience and wide cooperation networks within and outside of Europe.

Sarhimaa’s linguistic expertise lies in the fields of empirical and contact linguistics,  (with focus on languages of northwestern Russia), areal linguistics and sociolinguistics (with a focus on the Circum-Baltic area), language policies, discourse linguistics and critical discourse analysis (esp. minority identities, their discursive construction and linguistic manifestation), and literary linguistics.

Since the late 1980s Sarhimaa has investigated Karelian (a Finnic minority language related to Finnish and Estonian and spoken in northwestern Russia) within a number of successive research programmes and with varying linguistic foci. Between 1989 and 1996 she carried out several field-work expeditions in the Autonomous Republic of Karelia and in Central Russia, gathering an 80-hour corpus of interviews with native speakers of Karelian and of the northern Russian dialects. Sarhimaa’s early studies were concerned with language contacts between Karelian and the north-western dialects of Russian, and extended over syntactic interference and the theory of contact-linguistics to issues in language politics. In her monograph Syntactic transfer, contact-induced change, and the evolution of bilingual mixed codes (Finnish Literature Society, 1999), which was awarded with the research prices of the Société Finno-Ougrienne and the Society of Finnish Language, Sarhimaa showed that the decades-long bi- and multilingualism of Karelians has given birth to several new, mixed codes. These codes differ from each other in regard to their patterns of combining Russian grammatical elements with Karelian ones. The present-day Karelians employ the new codes much in the same way as monolinguals use the registers of their native tongue.

During a few past years, Sarhimaa has also investigated the relationship between language and the social, with a special reference to identity work via language in inter- and multicultural settings. The metatheoretical framework of these studies is that of Bakhtinian dialogism enriched by Critical Discourse Analysis and usage-oriented grammar theories such as Systemic-Functional Grammar, Emergent Grammar and Construction Grammar. In her recent publications Sarhimaa has discussed issues such as the construction of contexts by means of grammatical devices, polyphony, heteroglossy, voicing, narrative role-assignment, membership categorisation devices, choices concerned with modifying the grammatical category of person and indexical elements that are used to construct viewpoints.

Sarhimaa’s current research project, a case study within the framework of the EU-FP-7 Project ELDIA, is concerned with Karelian as a minority language in Finland. In Finland Karelian is the heritage language of Karelian-origin Finns who have their roots in Viena Karelia, in the few Karelian villages in the Ilomantsi region near the Russian border or, in most cases, in the historical “Border Karelia”, i.e. the easternmost municipalities of Pre-WWII Finland: Salmi, Suistamo, Suojärvi and (parts of) Suomussalmi. The latter areas were among those parts of Finland which were surrendered to the Soviet Union according to the peace treaty of Paris 1947. As the residents of the surrendered areas were evacuated and systematically resettled in different parts of Finland, the Karelian-speaking population, a few thousand persons, was given new domiciles mainly in the Kuopio region. Due to post-war mobility and internal migration, they now live scattered throughout the country, and Karelian is no longer spoken as a local community language anywhere in Finland. Today, there are estimated to be some 5000 native speakers of Karelian left in Finland (no official speaker statistics exist), most of whom belong to the older generations. Both lexically and grammatically, Karelian differs drastically from the Finnish varieties spoken in the new domiciles of the re-settled Karelians. The linguistic reorientation or assimilation of the Karelian-speaking newcomers must have proceeded very quickly in the post-war decades. However, the linguistic adaptation of Border Karelians has not been systematically investigated so far, and there is only sporadic information available on the apparent Finnicization of Karelian varieties in Finland.

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