What is language emancipation? Norwegian and other Nordic experiences


  • Anna-Riitta Lindgren The Arctic University of Tromsø




language emancipation, historical minority languages, multilingualism, Nordic countries, North Calotte


The article deals with the concept of language emancipation as an improvement of the position of a language or a dialect. Improvement can vary from liberation from stigma through changes in attitudes to the raising of a language through language planning on different levels, e.g. the introduction of a language in one or several public domains, official acknowledgement of a language, attainment of status as an official language through legislation, constructing a standard language, etc. Examples from the Nordic countries are presented, including historical cases from the periods of Lutheran reformation (16th century), the Enlightenment (18th century) and the national romanticism (19th century), and contemporary cases of raising minority languages in connection with ethnic renaissance. More focus is given on the situation of the languages of the historical minorities in the northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland – the Sámi languages, Meänkieli and Kven – and on some problems in their emancipatory processes; the race between revitalisation and assimilation.

Author Biography

Anna-Riitta Lindgren, The Arctic University of Tromsø

Anna-Riitta Lindgren, Department of Language and Linguistics, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway. Born in Helsinki, Finland, 1947. Dr.philos. 1993. Professor of Finnish linguistics at the University of Tromsø since 1994. She has published books and papers on Kven dialects in Norway, and on the sociology of multilingualism in the northernmost parts of Norway and Finland and in Helsinki.



How to Cite

Lindgren, A.-R. (2013). What is language emancipation? Norwegian and other Nordic experiences. Sociolinguistic Studies, 7(1-2), 11–32. https://doi.org/10.1558/sols.v7i1-2.11