This article explores upset reactions to purportedly deviant language use in the newsroom of the Swedish public service television company SVT. Adopting a historical gaze to contemporary struggles, it focuses on the news anchor Dina Haddad (an alias selected by me for the sake of anonymity) and the injurious, bigoted complaints she receives from detractors by virtue of speaking Swedish with a foreign accent. Through historical contextualization, the article casts Swedish public service television as a system of sociolinguistic closure, sustained through individual and institutional efforts of correction. Conceptually, it invokes the image of the skeptron to illustrate how linguistic authority is exerted through an interplay between delegators and holders. Against this backdrop, drawing on interview data and a selection of scornful emails, Haddad’s broadcast appearance is grasped as indexing the symbolic recognition of unsolicited change. Her foreign accent is perceived as revealing the countervailing upset of sociolinguistic closure, sanctioned by the establishment. For detractors, this is at once a critique against the skeptron-delegator, SVT, and the skeptron-bearer, Haddad. While the verbal attacks she receives are more about social change than language per se, I argue that the efficacy of producing linguistic complaints pertains to SVT’s historical role in sustaining doctrines of correctness.
Special Issue of International Journal of the Sociology of Language (275) https://www.degruyter.com/journal/key/ijsl/2022/275/html
This introductory article opens the thematic issue Spaces of Upset in the Nordic Region. It introduces the contributions of the issue, outlines the concepts that unite them, and discusses the sociolinguistic area in which they are set: the Nordic region. Centering on Denmark, Finland and Sweden, the article offers an overview of some of the sociolinguistic, ideological and political characteristics of the region and the countries it comprises. The Nordic region is widely seen as a paradigm case of social stability, consensus and cohesion. This vision is, however, a mirage. To be sure, upset often lingers below the discursive veneer of Nordic harmony, concord and agreement. Breaking with this outlook, this thematic issue takes a closer look at some of the antipodes of this sociolinguistic and ideological condition. Its contributions engage with ‘spaces of upset’, that is, with manifestations and experiences of sociolinguistic rupture, upheaval or change, in and through which visions of sociolinguistic stability and cohesion are disrupted and challenged. These spaces of upset bear witness to social, ideological and linguistic tensions and changes, be they incipient, enduring or surpassed. They accordingly provide a new take on processes of continuity and change, pointing out the ideological faultlines of the orders they disrupt, or upset.