Mervi de Heer

Hello world! My name is Mervi. My first languages are Finnish and Dutch.

mervi.deheer [at]


language contacts, phylogenetic linguistics, historical linguistics and lexicology


During my undergraduate years, I studied Finno-Ugric linguistics which introduced me to various Uralic languages, their structure, and developments. I have also been lucky to travel the Finno-Ugric world making friends and learning not only languages but also something about the cultures of their speakers. As a student, I mainly worked as a Finnish language teacher but in 2015 I began compiling information for Bedlan’s datasets. After graduating with my masters, I had been introduced to the world of large datasets, phylogenetic linguistics and quantitative methods in general. Currently, I’m a PhD student at Uppsala University, Finno-Ugric languages which is part of the Department of Modern Languages.

In my project, we bring the theme of language contact to the phylogenetic context and use this information to study the timing hypotheses given to the Uralic language family.

I’m a linguist working in a highly interdisciplinary team. My background in teaching has helped me to explain linguistic concepts to other members and collaborators. In return, I have had the opportunity to dip my toes into the pool of other sciences such as genetics, archaeology and geography.

When not working on papers, I enjoy computer games, writing stories and taking long walks.


Using contact linguistics for relative calibration of phylogenies. ​International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL 24) 2.7.2019 The Australian National University, Canberra. Australia. With Luke Maurits​​ Michael Dunn​​ and Outi Vesakoski.

Dispersion of Uralic languages.Early perspectives from phylogeographic modelling. With Luke Maurits and Timo Rantanen. Spatial Patterns of Language Evolution 23.1.2019. University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Loanword strata in the Uralic languages, new timing tests and multidisciplinary collaboration. Meeting of Nordic Finnish teachers. 15.-16.2.2018. Copenhagen, Denmark.

What does a basic vocabulary dataset tell about language contacts between the Uralic and Indo-European language families? Workshop on language contact 1.6.2018, Uppsala Universitet.

Language contacts of the Uralic languages and borrowed items in a basic vocabulary dataset. Conference LAG2 Linguistics, Archaeology, Genetics: The Origin and expansions of Uralic-speaking populations, 29.-31.11.2017, Jena, Germany.

Grambank methodology for collecting worldwide typological data. Workshop on Databases of the Uralic Languages, 9.-10.11.2017, Tartu Estonia. With Michael Dunn

Optimizing phylogenetic analyses with data partitioning: a case study of Uralic – Data coding. Phylogenetic Methods in Historical Linguistics, 27.-30.03.2017, Tübingen, Germany. With Outi Vesakoski and Terhi Honkola

BEDLAN: Language data revealing human (pre)history. Archeogenetics in the archipelago workshop 1-5.8.2016, Seili, Finland. With Michael Rießler, Outi Vesakoski, Terhi Honkola & Jenni Leppänen.

The research on the divergence of the Uralic languages by the BEDLAN multidisciplinary research group. X International Symposium “Language contacts of peoples of the Volga region: actual problems of normative and historical phonetics, lexicology and stylistics. 19.5.2016 Izhevsk, Udmurtia, Russia.

2018     lexibank/uralex: UraLex basic vocabulary dataset
2019 L Maurits, M de Heer, T Honkola, M Dunn, O Vesakoski, Best practices in justifying calibrations for dating language families, Journal of Language Evolution, lzz009,

2017- PhD student, Uppsala University, Department of Modern Languages, Sweden.

Supervisors: Prof. Rogier Blokland (Uppsala University), Prof. Michael Dunn (Uppsala University), PhD Outi Vesakoski (University of Turku).

2016 MA in Finno-Ugric languages (minors: Hungarian language and culture, Subject teacher training for Finnish language and literature), University of Turku, Finland. Thesis

2011 BA in Finno-Ugric languages (minors: Finnish literature, Educational science), University of Turku, Finland

What have I been teaching in recent years?
Finnish A1, Uppsala University (2017, 2018)
Language, Individual and Society, Uppsala University (2017, 2018)
Language Contacts, Uppsala University (2018, 2019)

Linguistic diversity, endangered languages and language revitalization. Biodiversity. University of Turku. 16.1.2019

Language contacts. Evolutionary applications: Human and cultural evolution in a multidisciplinary context. University of Turku 18.12.2019

Technical skills I use at work
R (Tidyverse)

Here a Fenno-Ugric linguist has found herself under eucalyptys trees in Australia!
My adventures have taken me to many places such as The Komi republic