Ideologies and norms in translation into Finnish. The formation of conventions in non-fiction and discussion on the language of translations in the 19th and 21st centuries.
The research project consists of two separate sub-projects that deal with the discourses of translating non-fiction into Finnish and the formation of language ideologies in the process of translation. The approach is empirical and both sub-projects build on case-studies. The first project studies the process of translating non-fiction in the 21st century by analyzing the discussions between translators, editors and academic experts during the processes of translation and publishing. The data consists of comments given at various stages of the translation process and interviews with the different parties to this process. The second sub-project focuses on the 19th century, the early modern period of standard Finnish. During that time, non-fiction texts in different fields first appeared in Finnish, mostly as translations. The 19th-century discussions and debates on translations can be approached by looking at data in the archives of publishing houses and academic and scientific societies, correspondence between the translator and the publisher as well as between different translators and language specialists, forewords and prefaces to the books, as well as published reviews and discussions in periodical magazines and newspapers.
The analysis of translation processes in the 19th and 21st century in parallel studies is well motivated as these periods have both witnessed, or are currently witnessing, a significant change in language policies. Discussion about the Finnish language and its status has been especially vivid after political changes that have also affected the linguistic situation in the speech community: in 1809, the Russian-Swedish war resulted in the Russian regime and the status of Finland as an autonomic grand duchy of Russia. In 1917, Finland became an independent state which in 1995 joined the European Union. From autonomy to the present day, the national culture has been based on research, that is, production of knowledge, in Finnish. It has also been passed on to people in Finnish, with the support of determined translation of non-fiction. A change in the language policy can be witnessed at the very moment: English is increasingly used as the language of research, and Finnish is becoming to be restricted to function as the language of popular non-fiction. It is thus becoming to be limited to exactly the domain it first started from in the 19th century. On the other hand, there are specialized publishing houses in Finland that bear responsibility for academic texts to be published in Finnish. Thus, a research project that deals with the discussion on language, especially in the light of non-fiction translated into Finnish is extremely topical at present.
Language ideologies are closely connected to the building of nations and national languages. As the research project has as its focus the discourses of translated non-fiction during two language-politically significant periods, it opens a perspective on meta-level discussion on good Finnish and the norms of non-fiction written in Finnish. By using linguistic methodology, a study can focus, for example, on the relation between the views of ideal language and the source languages and the meaning that takes form in their structures. At the same time, negotiations between different ideologies are examined. They are revealed in the discussions of the different parties to the translation process. During the language reform in the 19th century, the reading public also actively took part in these negotiations.