The research conducted at the Department is divided into:
Swedish, Swedish as a Second Language and Nordic Languages offer opportunities for many different research interests. The main areas are currently Modern Swedish and Swedish as a Second Language. Some research foci can be said to be more persistent than others: Natural Language Processing and Språkbanken (the Swedish Language Bank); the Institute of Lexicology and the Institute of Swedish as a Second Language (ISA). Other research emphases tend to vary over time. At the moment, many researchers are involved in grammatical research, for example on dialectal syntax.
Even if all communication is situated and takes place in specific situations, where the speakers adapt to the current situation in various ways, we still use the same language system when we tell our children a bedtime story, write reports, read blog texts and talk to telemarketers. Research on grammar tries to abstract away from the situation specific aspects and instead focus on the language tools we carry with us and use in all these activities.
At the Department of Swedish, we offer courses on the language system of Swedish at all levels (undergraduate, advanced and doctoral) and carry out grammar research using several different perspectives, often in collaboration with the other profile areas. Three special areas are currently in focus: Construction Grammar, Information structure and Microvariation among the Nordic (North Germanic) languages, Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish, including Finland Swedish.
Interesting grammar questions pop up wherever language is used. For instance, compare the use of "we" in the two preceding paragraphs. In the first paragraph, "we" includes all speakers of the language, in the second only grammar researchers at the department. How do we capture this flexibility in our grammatical analysis?
The discipline of Modern Swedish can be described as the study of the present structure and usage of Swedish. Modern Swedish grammar and semantics constitute the core, but there are other sub-disciplines involved as well, such as sociology of language, language cultivation, stylistics, rhetoric and language learning, the latter in connection with Swedish as a Second Language in particular, where also language pedagogy and language didactics are included.
The discipline of Nordic Languages can be described as the study of the Nordic region as a language area, especially the development of the North Germanic languages and the links among them. The core of this discipline, which mainly relates to language history, consists of many somewhat different sub-disciplines such as Nordic philology, vocabulary research and onomastics, runology and the history of Nordic language research. The modern Nordic languages (other than Swedish) are of course also studied in Nordic Languages, while dialectology is included in both disciplines.
The Institute of Swedish as a Second Language (ISA) was established in 1997 and serves to support the discipline Swedish as a Second Language by conducting research and by increasing competence in the area among educational institutions via close contact with the educational system. ISA currently funds a number of school-related projects that for example explore how internet-based tools can be used in the teaching of Swedish as a second language. Other projects focus on second-language students' development in terms of writing and vocabulary, and on the vocabulary used in school textbooks and how students with a native language other than Swedish relate to it.
Language technology is one of the University's strong areas, and the research in this field is organised at the Centre for Language Technology (CLT), which engages researchers from two faculties and four departments. CLT has been allocated strategic funds for three years of research (2009-2012).
Natural language processing belongs in the cross-disciplinary research area language technology, in which language and language usage are studied with the ultimate purpose to get computers to handle language in a human-like manner, meaning with an understanding of the actual content of texts and other language production. Natural Language Processing deals primarily with written language, mainly as large text masses (corpuses). Such empirical language material is used in the development of dictionaries and other language-related databases and tools that can be used within for example language technology. Thus, the research is focused around these so-called linguistic resources and their use in research and education. Information refinement, computer-aided language learning and corpus linguistics are some important areas of application.
Research in lexicology involves both studies of the entire vocabulary of Swedish and studies of the properties of individual lexical items. Research in lexicography consists of analysing, describing and structuring the vocabulary found in dictionaries and other lexical resources.
The lexical analysis focuses on different aspects of words. Three important aspects are the grammatical properties of words, such as part of speech and inflectional patterns, the combinatory properties of words, as shown by e.g. collocations, constructions and idioms, and the different meanings of words in different contexts. The origin of individual words and the ways they have changed over time are other important areas of study. Recently a new area of study has developed, viz. the challenges involved when speakers of other languages learn to master the Swedish language.
The lexical research in the department is carried out both within individual research projects and in connection with large dictionary projects such as the monolingual Svensk ordbok utgiven av Svenska Akademien (SO), Svenska Akademiens ordlista, SAOLhist and Lexin, which have been developed at the Centre for Lexicology and Lexicography. A collaborative Nordic project has resulted in the multilingual web dictionary ISLEX.
Box 200, SE- 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
46 (0)31-786 00 00