Formula: Units of Speech – ‘Words’ of Verbal Art

17.5.2017 - 08:45 - 19.5.2017 - 17:00
SKS Main Building, Great Hall, 2nd floor, Hallituskatu 1, Helsinki
Lisätietoa:, 0201 131 231 / viestintä

A multidisciplinary seminar-workshop

Formulaic language is a topic of rising interest across researchers in diverse but related disciplines, such as anthropology, folkloristics, linguistics, philology and semiotics. Despite employing different methods and materials, their findings are often complementary or even convergent. On the other hand, a critical mass of open, interdisciplinary dialogue has yet to occur.  Formula: Units of Speech – ‘Words’ of Verbal Art aims to bring different approaches to the formula into dialogue, and especially to bridge the divide between formula research on unmarked spoken or written discourse and that on forms of verbal art such as oral poetry. 

The event is open to the public.  Attending lectures and paper discussions is free of charge; we ask a participation fee of 25€ to cover the cost of lunches and a printed copy of the working papers.  Registration for the event is at:

The event is discussion-oriented, so that each 20-minute paper can be followed by 25-minutes of discussion.  We hope you will join us!

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor Karl Reichl (University of Bonn)
  • Professor Alison Wray (Cardiff University)


Wednesday, May 17th

08:45‒09:00   Coffee and Registration

09:00‒09:15   Opening Words

09:15–10:30   Keynote lecture

  • Alison Wray (Cardiff University), Memorisation as a Regulator of Fluency under Cognitive Pressure: Prefabricated Language in the Service of Creative Practice

10:30–10:45   Coffee

10:45–11:30   Jarkko Niemi (University of Tampere), Analysing Fabrics of Sung Language in Oral Tradition: A Systemic-Ecological Perspective on Performance of Culture as Skill

11:30–12:15   Heini Arjava (University of Helsinki), Prosodies of Music and Formulaic Language on Collision Course

12:15–13:45   Lunch

13:45–14:30   Timo Kaartinen (University of Helsinki), Formulas and the Formality of Discourse

14:30‒15:15     Alexandra Arkhipova (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow) & Elena Jugai (Nikolay Karamzin Fellow, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences), A Dangerous Name: The Poetics of a Political Formula

15:15–15:30   Coffee

15:30–16:15   Viliina Silvonen (University of Helsinki), Formulas in the Language and Music of Olonets Karelian Laments

16:15–17:00   Hans Nollet (KU Leuven), Formulas in Neo-Latin Poetry as a Means to Language Enrichment and Self-Representation: Language Tips and Sociolinguistics in Justus Lipsius’ Poems

Thursday, May 18th

08:45‒09:00   Coffee

09:00–09:45   Anatoly Liberman (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities), Formulas through the Centuries

09:45‒10:30   Yelena Sessilja Helgadóttir (University of Iceland), Formulae across the North Atlantic (from Continental Scandinavia to Iceland)

10:30–10:45   Coffee

10:45–11:30   Paul Kiparsky (Stanford University), Formulas and Themes

11:30–12:15   Chiara Bozzone (University of California, Los Angeles), Homeric Formulas – Between Language Acquisition and Language Change

12:15–13:45   Lunch

13:45–14:45   Poster presentations

  • Tatiana Bogrdanova (University of Eastern Finland), Folklore Formulas in Arthur Ransome’s Old Peter’s Russian Tales (1916)
  • Clyde Coreil (Independent Scholar), Formulaics: A New Approach to Communication
  • Lital Belinko Sabah (The Hebrew University), Proverbs and Idioms in a Textual Context
  • Ilya Sverdlov (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies), Formulaic Language, Alliteration, and Metrical Statistics in Old English Poetry: From Eduard Sievers via Thomas Shippey to Olga Smirnitskaya and beyond

14:45–15:00   Coffee

15:00–15:45   Sergei B. Klimenko (Institute for Linguistic Research, RAS), Rhythmic Fillers in Ifugao hudhuds

15:45–16:30   Jacqueline Ekgren (Ekgren Musikkinstitutt), The Word-Accent Pair in a Half-Line: The Performance Formula of Norwegian stev as a Fresh Approach to Old Germanic Accentual Verse

16:30–17:00   Tour of the Folklore Archives of the Finnish Literature Society

Reception hosted by the Finnish Literature Society

Friday, May 19th

09:00‒09:15   Coffee

09:15–10:30   Keynote lecture

  • Karl Reichl (University of Bonn), Formulas in Oral Epics: The Dynamics of Metre, Memory and Meaning

10:30–10:45   Coffee

10:45–11:30     Maria V. Stanyukovich (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Science), Anthroponymic Formulas in the Ifugao hudhud and Other Epics of the Philippines

11:30–12:15   Jukka Saarinen (Finnish Literature Society, SKS), Formula and Structure: Ways of Expressing Names in the Northern Runosong Tradition

12:15–13:45   Lunch

13:45–14:30   Daniel Sävborg (University of Tartu), The Formula in the Icelandic Family Saga

14:30‒15:15   Cristóbal Pagán Cánovas (University of Navarra), Formulaic Creativity: Connecting the Main Tenets of Cognitive Linguistics and Oral Poetics

15:15–15:30   Coffee

15:30–16:15   Frog (University of Helsinki), Formulaic Language and Linguistic Multiforms: Questions of Complexity and Variation

16:15–16:45   Closing Discussion


Formula: Units of Speech – ‘Words’ of Verbal Art is organized by Folklore Studies, University of Helsinki, and the Finnish Literature Society (SKS).