BEDLAN (Biological Evolution and Diversification of LANguages) is a interdisciplinary team of experts studying linguistic divergence. Our interests lie not only in describing the patterns of linguistic variation, but also in understanding the mechanisms affecting linguistic divergence. We ask questions such as how has the spatial pattern of variation within a language taken shape, and what are the processes that contribute to the divergence of languages and thus possibly affect to evolutionary trajectories of whole language families. Our long-term goal is to fit the linguistic history of the Uralic language family into the holistic history of humans in the Uralic speaker area.
BEDLAN operates mainly with Uralic languages. Our research involves the collection and use of large datasets describing Finnish dialects, Finnic languages and Uralic languages. These datasets are analysed using cutting-edge quantitative methods.
The evolutionary aspect of the BEDLAN team is led by Outi Vesakoski in the Department of Biology at the University of Turku (Finland), and the sociolinguistic aspect by Unni Leino at Tampere University (Finland). Our members are also found at the Universities of Helsinki (Finland) and Uppsala (Sweden). Successful interdisciplinary work requires a team commanding solid knowledge in the subject field (linguistics, Uralic languages, Finnish language, biogeography of the Uralic speaker area) and in the methods (including evolutionary biology, evolutionary ecology, Bayesian modelling, GIS and geostatistics).