DYLAN

“Language Dynamics and Management of Diversity"

University of Helsinki dealing with benefits of multidisciplinarism

Integrating results from different disciplines is often a challenge. Within the University of Helsinki research task of the DYLAN project, the researchers in the different fields of linguistics and policy research have faced this problem in a very concrete way. In our practical study relating to the outcomes of language policies in higher education we have experienced that sufficient background knowledge in a field that is not your own requires teamwork: linguists and political scientists need to work side by side in order to gain theoretical and methodological advances in both disciplines. While linguists can analyze language dynamics in great detail by using for instance conversation analysis or sociopragmatics, political scientists can analyze the content and output of policies by for instance different types of evaluation analysis and policy analysis. Both, however, seem to have a blind spot. On the one hand, linguists tend to disregard the macro-level of why a specific policy decision was made and how it related to the myriad of other policies. On the other hand, political scientists tend to disregard the micro-level of what the actual output of a policy entails and what possible covert messages might exist in the policy formulation process. The multidisciplinary nature of the DYLAN project has highlighted issues relating to how language relates to society and how society relates to language by enhancing a much needed dialogue across the two disciplines. This dialogue was presented and enacted by Jan-Ola Östman and Sebastian Godenhjelm at the conference Svenskan i Finland (The Swedish language in Finland) in Joensuu, Finland, 15-16 October 2009.
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