Funding for research on child language experiences and medieval & renaissance manuscripts


The international Digging into Data programme combines the humanities with technology.

Four projects are being initiated in Finland with funding from the Trans-Atlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities, an international, EU-funded research funder project. The Academy of Finland is participating as a funder of the first joint application process for the Digging into Data Challenge theme. The objective of the funding model is to increase trans-Atlantic collaboration and the visibility of the impact of the social sciences and humanities.

‘Aalto University is included in two of the projects that received funding. This funding model is highly competitive both locally and globally,’ notes Postdoctoral Researcher Okko Räsänen from the Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics.

Räsänen is the accountable project leader in Aalto for the Analyzing Child Language Experiences Around the World project. Räsänen’s group is part of a larger international cross-disciplinary consortium that is coordinated by the University of Manitoba in Canada. The consortium includes universities from England (Imperial College London), France (Ecole Normale Superieure), Argentina (COCINET), the United States (Carnegie Mellon University and Duke University), as well as the University of Toronto from Canada.

‘The role of our research group is to develop speech technology tools for the research of child language experiences in different cultures and socioeconomic environments, and to analyse and model language learning based on the materials that have been collected,’ Räsänen explains.

In the project, language learning researchers and speech technologists from around the world combine their strengths to analyse the recordings of speech that is heard by children. The purpose is to utilise new automated methods when labelling speech materials, as the traditional type of labelling that is done by hand is not suited for large data sets that are needed when mapping out language experiences in a wide-ranging and systematic way. The goal is to analyse the amount and quality of speech that children hear in different cultures and languages to better understand the factors that affect the language development of children in different environments.

A common databank for medieval and renaissance manuscripts

Aalto University's Semantic Computing Research Group is part of the Mapping Manuscript Migrations project that aims to create an international linked data service for medieval and renaissance manuscripts. As time has gone by, these manuscripts have changed hands and migrated around the world to different libraries and collections. The service will describe the contents, movements and provenance of the manuscripts. This way, the research focus is also on human movements and institutional activities is historical places and eras.

‘Medieval and renaissance manuscripts are widely researched and much-loved artefacts of Europe's historical life and culture. Our project focuses on modelling and combining the metadata of around 500,000 different objects in different key databases with the latest technology. The role of Aalto University in the project is especially related to the development of technical solutions,’ notes Professor Eero Hyvönen from the Department of Computer Science.

The project is led by Oxford University. In addition to Aalto University, the project also includes the libraries of the University of Pennsylvania and the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes in Paris.

‘This project deepens the collaboration between Aalto University and Oxford University on linked data web services for historical manuscripts and on digital humanities research. We’re also aiming to collaborate with the University of Helsinki's new HELDIG centre for digital humanities, which is also included in a separate large medieval manuscript project that is funded by the ERC,’ Hyvönen continues.

The website of the Trans-Atlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Further information:

Professor Eero Hyvönen
Aalto University  
tel +358 50 3841 618

Postdoctoral Researcher Okko Räsänen
Aalto University 
tel +358 50 4419 511