Photo of Martin Ehala

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae


Birth date: 20.12.1963
Place of Birth: Tallinn, Estonia
Citizenship: Estonian 



2016 - current, Visiting Professor of Estonian, University of Helsinki

2009 – current, Senior Researcher (0.75), University of Tartu, Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics

2009 – 2017,  Professor of Literacy Education (0.25), University of Tartu, Institute of  Estonian and General Linguistics

Jan. 2015 - July 2015 Fulbright Visiting Fellow, University of California, SB

2008  – 2009, Senior Researcher (1.00), University of Tartu, Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics

Jan. 2006 - May 2006, Andrew Mellow Visiting Fellow, Univeristy of Edinburgh, Institute of Advanced studies

2004 – 2007, Head of the Department of Estonian Philology, Tallinn University

2003 – 2008, Professor of General and Applied Linguistics (1.0),Tallinn University

1998 – 2003, Professor  of  Literacy Education (1.0), Tallinn Pedagogical University

1996 – 2002, Editor in Chief of “Trames”, a journal of the  humanities and social sciences, Estonian Academy of Sciences.  (

1996 – 2000, Dean of the Philological Faculty, Tallinn University

1994 – 1998, Senior researcher and associate professor (1.0), Tallinn University

1992 – 1993, Associate professor, Tallinn University

1990 – 1991, lector, Tallinn Pedagogical University

Description of research and teaching

During my professional career, my research interests have shifted from the study of language change to minority language maintenance, ethnolinguistic vitality, language ecology and the interdisciplinary study of collective identity. Besides this I have also been engaged in devising and implementing innovative teaching methods for adolescent functional literacy in the Estonian language, and writing literacy and Estonian language textbooks for comprehensive and secondary school (about eight textbooks over the period of 20 years).

Currently, I am the principal investigator of the project “Sustainability of Estonian in the Era of Globalisation” at the University of Tartu, which aims to develop a systemic interdisciplinary approach to language ecology on the example of the development of Estonian. I have also been working on a book “Signs of identity. The anatomy of belonging” which is about to be published in August 2017 by Routledge.

Besides this I have also published on the structure and dynamics of Estonian focusing on different aspects of the grammar of Estonian, the common thread being the diachronic changes in these linguistic subsystems, particularly the influence of macro-level linguistic phenomena to the micro level. I have also been interested in recent contact induce changes in Estonian, particularly the impact of the Russian adstrate.

Education information

1992 - 1994 University of Cambridge, Ph.D. in linguistics, 1996
1991 - 1992 University of Cambridge, M.Phil in linguistics, 1993
1985 - 1990 Tallinn Pedagogical Institute, Teacher of the Estonian language and literature 

External positions

Professor of Literacy Education, University of Tartu

1 Feb 2012 → …

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.
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