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Language Planning and National Identity in Sweden: A Performativity Approach

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Much of the existing body of literature on language planning and national identity in Sweden has underscored the absence of language planning and a sense of a traditional national identity until the mid-1990s (for example, Teleman 2003; Teleman and Westman 1997). This was followed in the late 1990s by the flourishing of a series of debates on the Swedish language both among academics and politicians. The new overt interest in language planning issues in Sweden has been interpreted in the light of social identity theory and language attitude theory as the manifestation of a budding ethnonationalist revival, which puts great emphasis on the Swedish language as a symbol of national identity in order to counteract the increasing pressure of globalization (Oakes 2001).

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... In recent years, the concept of a " language ideological debate " (Blommaert, 1999a) has emerged as a key theoretical focus for a range of sociolinguistic investigations which, concentrating on public disputes around representations of linguistic practices, explore the ways in which what often appear to be purely language-related contentions are typically indexical of wider aesthetic, economic, moral and political concerns (Blackledge, 2004Blackledge, , 2005 Jaworski et al., 2004; Johnson, 2005a Johnson, , 2005b Johnson, , 2007 Milani, 2006 Milani, , 2007 Stevenson, 2006; Stroud, 2004). But as Blommaert acknowledges (1999b, 1999c), language ideological debates are necessarily messy affairs such that the analyst is almost always likely to encounter difficulties in specifying the points in time at which a given debate begins or ends. ...
... As has already been pointed out in a growing body of sociolinguistic work on what might be broadly referred to as the " politics of Swedish " (Milani, 2006Milani, , 2007 Oakes, 2001 Oakes, , 2005), the beginning of the 1990s can be considered something of a turning point insofar as this was the period when the status of the Swedish language vis-à-vis English first became an overt topic of public debate and the subsequent target of explicit state intervention. Here we can identify two important steps. ...
... As far as Sweden is concerned, the single most important event in relation to " super-state " re-organisation to have occurred in the 1990s was the country's entry into the European Union. This prompted a range of public reactions, not least from a range of politicians and linguists who called for state intervention to protect the Swedish language, fearing that the dominance of English in EU institutions would serve only to consolidate the already increased status of that language in several domains of Swedish society (see Milani, 2006 Milani, , 2007, for a more detailed historical analysis). These concerns were what initially motivated the Government's request in 1997 that the Swedish Language Council draft a document for the promotion of Swedish, eventually leading to the policy proposals published in Mål i mun in 2002. ...
Article
Since the late 1990s the question of whether to ratify the status of Swedish as the "principal" language by means of a language law has been subject to considerable public dispute in Sweden. Drawing on Blommaert's (1999a) concept of a "language ideological debate", we explore how and why this particular debate recently appeared to reach a dead end without achieving any kind of tangible "closure". In order to do so, we introduce Habermas's (1975, (1973)) notion of "legitimation crisis", as recently applied by Johnson (2005a, 2005b) in her discussion of language ideological debates surrounding the 1996 reform of German orthography. We describe how, according to Habermas, legitimation crises are underpinned by one or more "rationality deficits", i.e. discursive paradoxes that typically emerge in a given historical, cultural, social and economic context. We propose that the concept of "legitimation crisis" not only helps to explain why some language ideological debates seemingly reach a stalemate as in the Swedish case, but also constitutes a theoretical framework that could be productively incorporated into the study of language politics more generally.
... By contrast, a performativity approach aims to illustrate that subject, gender, and all other identity categories are not pre-existing substantive entities which cause or generate social practices, but they are rather the effects of practices and discourses within 'matrices of power' (Kulick, 2003, p. 140; see also Cameron, 1997 for an illuminating example of how performativity can be operationalized for the study of language and gender/sexuality). As I have argued elsewhere (Milani, 2006(Milani, , 2007a, performativity is not only a fruitful theoretical approach to the study of language and gender, but it can also be employed as a discourse analytical framework that is suitable for investigating the reasons and conditions underlying the emergence and development of language debates. In a previous analysis (Milani, 2006), I showed that the dynamics of language debates through textual interaction between different social actors can be grasped by an appreciation of three semiotic processes which constitute the core of performativity theory, namely (1) censorship, (2) interpellation and (3) citationality (see also Stroud, 2004a). ...
... As I have argued elsewhere (Milani, 2006(Milani, , 2007a, performativity is not only a fruitful theoretical approach to the study of language and gender, but it can also be employed as a discourse analytical framework that is suitable for investigating the reasons and conditions underlying the emergence and development of language debates. In a previous analysis (Milani, 2006), I showed that the dynamics of language debates through textual interaction between different social actors can be grasped by an appreciation of three semiotic processes which constitute the core of performativity theory, namely (1) censorship, (2) interpellation and (3) citationality (see also Stroud, 2004a). I will now set out to briefly explain each of these processes because they will be germane to the following discussion. ...
Article
The present paper aims to investigate an aspect of a recent public debate about bilingual education in Sweden. Focusing on the textual exchanges between some of the academics who intervened in the debate in the columns of one of the leading Swedish dailies, Dagens Nyheter, the paper will draw upon performativity theory to argue that expertise in language debates is a complex phenomenon which is constantly enacted and contested through discourse. Rather than pre-positing who is the expert and therefore speaks with authority in a given matter, the paper will try to tease out some of the strategies that social actors, under certain discursive constraints, deploy to construct their competence in a specific issue, thus investing their statements with authority.
... Stroud, for example, analyses the concept of 'Rinkeby Swedish', a suburban variety of Swedish, as essentially serving 'to position immigrants in public linguistic markets as nonproficient speakers of Swedish, through tapping into cultural constructs associated with immigrants such as contagion, transgression, change and the like ' (2004: 197). The concept of 'Rinkeby Swedish' can be seen as a metaphor for representations of 'the Swedish self' and 'the ethnic Other' and juxtaposed in ideological debates (ibid., see also Milani 2006aMilani , 2006b). ...
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Education in ’Multicultural’ Societies –Turkish and Swedish Perspectives For more than a century education has been considered the linchpin of modernity and intimately linked to the development of both the nation and the individual citizen in that nation. For more than a century educational debates have also underlined the crisis and obstacles in organising and transmitting the “right” kind of education. In this volume Turkish and Swedish researchers contribute to the analysis of these issues in the two different but also similar national contexts. Both Turkey and Sweden can be considered multicultural societies but the meanings and expressions of this are contested both within and across the two national contexts. This volume contributes to the critical analysis of education framed in sections focusing on challenges in multicultural education, educational institutions and identity formations and strategies for empowerment. The volume consists of an introduction, thirteen chapters and two appendices concerned with the development of education in Turkey and Sweden respectively. The contributors work in the fields of education, sociology, religious studies, linguistics, anthropology, folklore and cultural studies. Gender, informal education, religion and education, nationalism, ethnicity, youth and adult education as well as analyses of textbooks and educational reforms constitute important topics in the articles. Distributed by: I. B. Tauris, London – webadress http://www.ibtauris.com/ E-mail editors: Marie Carlson: marie.carlson@kultur.gu.se, Annika Rabo: annika.rabo@ceifo.su.se, Fatma Gök: gokf@boun.edu.tr
... This notion of performativity which Butler focused on gender and sexual identities has led to its use in thinking about the performance of national identities (Weber, 1998;Nash, 2000;Milani, 2006). Performance is a useful metaphor for enabling us to examine the N ays in which identity is played out and reproduced, informing and re(constructing) a sense of collectivity (Edensor, 2002). ...
... As noted earlier, the perceived impact of English in Sweden has raised concerns of macrosocial as well as more specific linguistic prominence, which have come to serve as the raison d'être for taking language policy measures (study 1). Accordingly, there is by now a substantial body of scholarly work that has sought to unravel the specifics percolating amid these language political concerns (e.g., Bolton & Kuteeva 2012;Bolton & Meierkord 2013;Hult 2004Hult , 2005Josephson 2014;Linn & Oakes 2007;Milani 2006Milani , 2007bMilani & Johnson 2008;Oakes 2005;Salö 2012; also study 1). To cut things short, from different point of views these studies attempt to grapple with the fact that English is largely perceived as threatening Swedish in LPP discourse, and that this threat is seen as particularly salient in academia. ...
... Stroud, for example, analyses the concept of 'Rinkeby Swedish', a suburban variety of Swedish, as essentially serving 'to position immigrants in public linguistic markets as nonproficient speakers of Swedish, through tapping into cultural constructs associated with immigrants such as contagion, transgression, change and the like ' (2004: 197). The concept of 'Rinkeby Swedish' can be seen as a metaphor for representations of 'the Swedish self' and 'the ethnic Other' and juxtaposed in ideological debates (ibid., see also Milani 2006aMilani , 2006b). ...
... In 1997, the government requested the Language Council to draw up an action plan for the promotion of the Swedish language. Milani (2006) asserts that the government decision to entrust the Language Council with such a task was informed by the field's metalinguistic discourses on English. In the following year, the result was presented in a Draft Action Programme (Svenska språknämnden, 1998). ...
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This chapter presents a sociological account of the language ideological representations underpinning discourses about perceived threats from English in Sweden. The objective is to contextualize the conceptual history of “domain loss” within Sweden’s field of language planning, in conjunction with crossing discourses about minority languages and EU membership. With Bourdieu, the safeguarding of Swedish is comprehended as linked to struggles where the role of the nation-state is set in flux, opening up linguistic markets beyond its control. As a product of the relation between agents’ habitus and the field, domain loss has served to legitimize discourses about the disestablishment of the national language regime, which is interpreted as a strategy to defend the market into which agents have invested capital.
... In 1997, the government requested the Language Council to draw up an action plan for the promotion of the Swedish language. Milani (2006) claims that the government decision to entrust the Language Council with such a task was informed by the field's metalinguistic discourses on English. The result was presented the year after in the a Draft Action Programme (Svenska språknämnden 1998). ...
... På ett mer övergripande plan hör ämnet för artikeln till den språkideologiska debatt som för Sveriges del beskrivits av Milani (2006, d o m ä n F ö r l u s t s o m s p r å k I d e o l o G I s k r e p r e s e n t a t I o n . s p r å k v å r d e n s d I s k u r s e r o m e n G e l s k a I s v e r I G e 2007). ...
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Detta bidrag framställer det svenska språkvårdsfältets diskurser om engelska, och begreppet domänförlusts framväxt som del i etableringen av en nationell språkpolitik i Sverige. Genomgången visar hur tonvikten gått från lånord mot frågor om svenskans position och status, med svengelska som representation för den förra diskursen och domänförlust för den senare. Båda manifesterar uttryck för »monoglottisk ideologi« (Silverstein 1996). Med redskap från Bourdieus fältteori knyts diskurserna till sina pro-ducenters positioner i språkvårdens fält. Domänförlust entextualiserades i samband med att diskussionen om Sveriges medlemskap i EU tog fart. Det hävdas i denna artikel att domänförlustsfrågan och EU-frågan är ideologiskt förenade, och att värnandet av svenskan måste ses i samma ljus som värnandet av Sveriges autonomi, och en aver-sion bland fältets agenter mot engelskans kulturpolitiska indexikaliteter. Domänförlust har använts som symbolisk tillgång för att få gehör för att svenskan är ett hotat språk, och tolkas här som en del av en strategi för att försvara en marknad där agenterna själva investerat sitt kapital.
... This is insofar as the analytical focus is restricted to explicit signs of linguistic awareness, as in the case of overt legislation related to the Swedish language, thus failing to acknowledge the more covert and implicit ways in which a polity manages its majority language (cf. Milani, 2006a;Schiffman, 1996;Shohamy, 2006;Watts, 2001). These are covert not just because they are "informal, unstated, de facto, grass-roots and latent" (Shohamy, 2006: 50), but also because decisions about a majority language are often embedded in the "mechanisms" or "devices" (ibid.: 54) through which a polity regulates the other languages present (or not) on its territory (I refer here not only to indigenous or migrant minority languages, but also high-status foreign languages such as English, French, etc.). ...
Article
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This thesis is concerned with three language debates that reached their most crucial peaks in Sweden at the beginning of the twenty-first century: (i) the debate on the promotion of the Swedish language, (ii) the debate on language testing for citizenship, and (iii) the debate on mother tongue instruction. The main scope of the thesis is to take a theoreti-cally multi-pronged approach to these debates trying to shed light on the following aspects: Why did such debates emerge when they did? Which discourses were available in those specific historical moments? Who are the social actors that intervened in these debates? What is at stake for them? What do they claim? What systems of values, ideas and beliefs – i.e. ideologies – underlie such claims? What are the effects in terms of identities, objects of political intervention, commonsensical knowledge and authority that these discourses and ideologies produce? Taking Sweden as a case in point, the thesis adds to the existing literature another example of how language debates are the manifestation of conflicts between different language ideologies that struggle for hegemony, thus attempting to impose one specific way of envisaging the management of a nation-state in a time of globalisation. In their outer and most patent facets, these struggles deal with the relationships between languages in today's Sweden, and how the state, through legislation, should – or should not – regulate such relationships in order to (re)produce some kind of linguistic order. However, the thesis also illustrates that when social actors appeal to a linguistic order, they not only draw boundaries between different languages in a given society, but they also bring into existence a social world in which the speakers of those languages come to occupy specific social positions. These linguistic and social hierarchies, in turn, are imbricated in an often implicit moral regime of what counts as good or bad, acceptable or taboo in that society.
... One should also add that the beginning of the 1990s was marked by a crucial event in Swedish politics: Sweden's accession to the European Union. As I have demonstrated elsewhere (Milani 2006(Milani , 2007, EU accession played an important role in rescaling the discursive regime of language in Sweden. To put it succinctly, until the 1990s the status of Swedish as the official national language had been taken for granted, and its function as a symbol of national identity had been played down by Social Democracy since World War II (cf. ...
Article
This article explores a public debate that took place in Sweden in 2002 in relation to the Swedish Liberal Party's proposal to introduce a language test for naturalization. On the basis of textual analysis of relevant policy documents and newspaper articles, it examines the explicit and implicit facets of an ideology of language testing. It is argued that a seemingly liberal, anti-racist, and anti-discriminatory ideology is emerging, which, in its explicit facet, calls for the introduction of a language test for citizenship as a practical way of diminishing social differentiation. However, drawing upon Bourdieu's notion of rites of institution, it is shown that such a test would actually contribute to, rather than challenge, the reproduction of social differentiation, thereby legitimizing the exclusion of certain groups from both the civic and symbolic domains of Sweden as a nation-state. a
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This article examines Welsh young people’s “performance” and construction of their bilingualism with the help of empirically grounded conversation analysis (CA) and performativity theory grounded in poststructuralism. Some of the incompatibilities, particularly conversation analysts’ narrow conception of context are resolved with reference to dialogical theory. It is argued with the help of video-recorded empirical data that a fine-grained analysis using CA is able to trace the emergence of varying bilingual identities as well as the negotiation of meaning in situ . To take the analysis beyond single situated actions, however, it is argued that we need recourse to the broader situation-transcending constructs offered, for example, by dialogical and performativity theory.
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The ideological (re)construction of the position of Swedish in Finland is examined as it took shape during a major year-long debate about the role of Swedish in Finnish education. Data were collected through archival research of the leading national newspapers in the two official languages of Finland: Helsingin Sanomat (Finnish) and Hufvudstadsbladet (Swedish). Circulating and intersecting discourses in newspaper texts are traced in order to examine how these discourses facilitate the negotiation of tensions about the status of Swedish in Finland. Analysis demonstrates how ideological space was opened for destabilizing dominant perspectives about the relative value of languages in Finland. Moreover, it is shown that (re)interpretations of the discourse of ‘Swedish as mandatory’ in education became a fulcrum for leveraging a wider debate about the ‘Finland as bilingual nation’ discourse, which has long been part of the national consciousness.
Chapter
Principles of Language EcologyContributions of Language Ecology to the Study of Educational Language Planning and PolicyExamples of an Ecological Approach to Educational Language PolicyConclusion
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This paper outlines the basics of the Prague School concept of language cultivation and main features of how it has been put into practice in the Czech Republic, and compares this approach with current language planning in Sweden. The paper aims at (1) placing the Prague School concept of language cultivation within the framework of international sociolinguistics, (2) pointing out that this concept contributes only partially to solving the language problems of contemporary societies, (3) outlining the possibilities of language cultivation in the post-modern era, while paying attention to language standardization, de-standardization and management. The author argues that the access of the Czech Republic to the EU will change the language situation of the country including the focus of and attitudes toward language planning.
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SAMENVATTING Taaiplanning als bezinning over taal en maatschappij: de taalkundige ideologie van een geleerde traditie Taalplanning is een traditie die vooral in de jaren 1960 en 1970 bijzonder productief was en in zich een groot optimisme ontwikkelde. De traditie viel wat stil in de jaren 1980, maar kent nu weer een heropbloei, o.m. omwille van de ontwikkelingen in Zuid-Afrika. In deze bijdrage wil ik een evaluatie van de voorbije traditie aansnijden, in het perspectief van de optimalisatie van het theoretisch, conceptueel en methodologisch kader van taalplanning-studies. Ik schets eerst kort de historische ontwikkeling van taalplanning, en ga vervolgens in op enkele ideologische aspecten die in veel traditioneel werk terug te vinden zijn. Ik bespreek achtereenvolgens de courante boutade dat taalplanning geen theoretische achtergrond zou hebben; de intuïtieve beperkingen die taaiplanners zich in hun studies leken op te leggen; de organische visies op taal en maatschappij ; het oligolingualisme en de assumpties van efficiëntie en integratie. Vervolgens vat ik de kritieken van Glyn Williams en Andrew Apter samen. Zij bepleiten een sterkere politieke invalshoek, die taal naast een reeks andere maatschappelijke kenmerken plaatst. Ik sluit af met een pleidooi voor een combinatie van een historiografische en een etnografische benadering in het bestuderen van language planning. RESUMO Lingvoplanado kiel debato pri lingvo kaj socio: la lingvistika ideologio de sciencista tradicio Lingvoplanado estas tradicio kiu estis tre fekunda cefe en la 1960-aj kaj 1970-aj jaroj kaj kovis en si grandan optimismon. Gi iom fadis en la 1980-aj jaroj, sed nun denove floras, i.a. pro la evoluoj en Suda Afriko. Mi ci tie ekanalizas la tradicion de la pasinteco cele al plibonigo de la teoria, koncepta kaj metodologia kadro de studoj pri lingvoplanado. Mi koncize skizas la historian evoluon de lingvoplanado, kaj poste tusas aron da ideologiaj aspektoj kiujn oni renkontas en multaj el la tradiciaj laboraĵoj. Mi diskutas la aserton ke lingvoplanado ne havus teorian fonon, la intuiciajn limigojn kiujn lingvoplanantoj sajnis starigi al siaj propraj studoj, la organajn konceptojn de lingvo kaj socio, plurlingvismon, kaj la premisojn de efikeco kaj integrado. Mi resumas la kritikojn de Glyn Williams kaj Andrew Apter, kiuj pledas por pli politika aliro en kiu lingvo estas unu el aro da sociaj faktoroj. Fine mi pledas por tio ke en la studado de lingvoplanado oni uzu kombinon el historiografia kaj etnografia aliroj.
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English-Only Europe? explores the role of languages in the process of European integration. Languages are central to the development of an integrated Europe. The way in which the European Union deals with multilingualism has serious implications for both individual member countries and international relations. In this book, Robert Phillipson considers whether the contemporary expansion of English represents a serious threat to other European languages. After exploring the implications of current policies, Phillipson argues the case for more active language policies to safeguard a multilingual Europe. Drawing on examples of countries with explicit language policies such as Canada and South Africa, the book sets out Phillipson's vision of an inclusive language policy for Europe, and describes how it can be attained.
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1. Except for the case of Eyak, which I can personally confirm, many of the statistics, large and small, in this article are but reports or estimates; I trust it will be obvious that any imprecision in the present figures should in no way detract from the basic point of their shocking significance. For North America and the Soviet North the figures for numbers of speakers come mainly from colleagues. For the numbers of languages and their speakers for the world generally, by far the best single source available that I am aware of is the Ethnologue (Grimes 1988), to which this paper refers below. 2. Note, however, that 187 languages comprise only a very small proportion of the world's languages, about 3%. For this and much of the following I am most indebted to Barbara and Joseph Grimes and their Ethnologue (1988), together with some late 1990 updates (personal communication). This work provides by far the most detailed worldwide survey of languages yet available, and it is also a project continuously being updated. In keeping with the estimated nature of statistics, I have generally rounded the Grimeses' figures. 3. The Grimeses' updated figures now include over 100 more very nearly extinct Australian languages listed in Wurm & Hattori 1981 but not in the 1988 Ethnologue. 4. Ken Hale wishes to point out that the figures attributed to him in Time magazine, September 23, 1991, are from Mike Krauss's presentation in the LSA Endangered Languages symposium of January, 1991. 5. As this goes to press, I note the article 'World of the Living Dead' (Natural history 9/91:30, 32-37) by the biologist Jared Diamond, who takes the Javanese bird situation as an example to illustrate his view, held by many biologists, that 'half of the world's species will be extinct or on the verge of extinction by the end of the next century'. Thus the enormity of the impending biological catastrophe may come much closer to matching that of the linguistic catastrophe than one might believe from the official endangered species listings. 6. As this goes to press, in addition to the political support of the federal Native American Languages Act of 1990 (described below by Watahomigie & Yamamoto), new federal legislation is proceeding that is to include appropriations: S. 1595, the Alaska Native Languages Preservation and Enhancement Act of 1991, introduced by Senator Murkowski of Alaska in July, 'to preserve and enhance the ability of Alaska Natives to speak and understand their native languages', passed by the Senate in November; and S. 2044, the Native American Languages Act of 1991, 'to assist Native Americans in assuring the survival and continuing vitality of their languages', introduced by Senator Inouye of Hawaii in November.
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Presents a collection of 24 theoretical and empirical studies on language planning policy, modernization, and education. Topics include cultural and cross-cultural linguistics and language issues, the theory and definition of language planning, language standardization in Africa, the effects of mass opinion on language policy, and problems in implementing a langauge policy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The focus of this paper is on the mechanisms whereby liberal and well-meaning democratic societies propagate a cycle of disposession where immigrants are constructed as least resourced while the powerful retain their power. Specifically discussed is the semiotic management of traditional hierarchies of privilege and access through language ideological discourses pertaining to second language acquisition, multilingualism and heterogeneity. One notion in particular is discussed in this context, namely Rinkeby Swedish, a potential, imagined, pan-immigrant contact variety of Swedish. The discussion is framed within a primarily Bourdieuean conceptual apparatus using concepts of symbolic market, explaining the role of language boundaries and their institutional policing, and detailing the semiotic processes of iconization whereby immigrants are positioned as outside of a symbolically reconstituted community of ‘real’ Swedish speakers, in strategic attempts to restrict their access to important linguistic and symbolic resources.
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