AAP: Coherence and Fragmentation. The Languages of the Nordic Countries and their Interrelations today

University of Florence, 14-16 November 2024

Deadline for abstract submission:

15 May 2024

Link to the call for papers

University of Florence. Department of Education, Languages, Intercultures, Literatures and Psychology (FORLILPSI)

Contact email


Keynote speakers
Henrik Gottlieb (University of Copenhagen), Unn Røyneland (University of Oslo), Julia
Tidigs (University of Helsinki), Anja Schüppert (University of Groningen), Jussi Ylikoski
(University of Turku & Sámi University of Applied Sciences)

Lena Dal Pozzo and Anna Wegener

This conference is the first international conference of its kind aiming to bring together highlevel research on multilingualism in the Nordic countries from an interdisciplinary perspective. The three main areas addressed by the conference are: 1) the Nordic countries as multilingual societies; 2) receptive multilingualism; 3) literary multilingualism.

While on the one side the Nordic countries have a common history and are considered by sociologists and historians to represent a “cluster”, on the other side they are quite heterogenous from a linguistic point of view. This heterogeneity can be observed in various ways. First, receptive multilingualism is a common way of communicating between speakers of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. However, the mutual intelligibility between the languages is asymmetrical, and many young Scandinavians prefer to use English when they 2 meet instead their native tongue. At the same time, there are important differences between young people’s experienced comprehension across the Nordic countries.

Icelandic and Faroese are North Germanic languages, like the Scandinavian languages, whereas Sami and Finnish are Uralic languages and Greenlandic is an Eskimo-Aleut language. The Nordic countries are divided by barriers of linguistic families, barriers which traditionally have been surmounted by Icelandic, Faroese and Greenlandic speakers learning Danish, Finnish speakers learning Swedish, and Sami adopting the national language of the country in which they live. Indeed, many Sami do not speak a Sami language.

Second, the indigenous Sami language group is also heterogeneous across these countries. The situation of these languages varies as regards their endangerment, number of speakers, and relationship to the dominant language.
Third, in addition to indigenous languages, minority languages and national languages, several other languages are spoken in the Nordic region because of the extensive immigration that has occurred in the last decades. From a literary point of view, this has given rise to new narratives mixing slang and different languages and fueled theoretical interest in literary multilingualism, for instance in modernist texts.

Nonetheless, all these languages coexist and interact in and between the countries: Finland has two national languages, Finnish and Swedish, and Sami, Romani, Russian, Yiddish, Tartar and Karelian are officially recognized as minority languages; in Sweden, the national minority languages are Finnish, Yiddish, Meänkieli, Romani and Sami; Norway’s minority languages are North Sami, South Sami, Lule Sami, Kven and Romani, while German is recognized as a minority language in Southern Denmark. In the Nordic Region, the Nordic Language Convention (1981) stipulates that Nordic nationals should be able to communicate in their own language with official bodies in other Nordic countries.

Multilingualism is thus visible in the Nordic countries on many levels and can be investigated from a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives. The conference invites papers on the Nordic countries as a multilingual region in which languages exist side by side, come into contact with and influence each other, are used as identity markers and political instruments, and give rise to multilingual texts.

Themes might include, but are not limited to:
• Receptive multilingualism as a political ideal
• Verbal and non-verbal strategies to communicate across languages
• Code-switching, mutual intelligibility, and language choice
• Factors determining the level of mutual intelligibility in Scandinavia
• Attitudes towards minority languages
• Uses of minority languages at an individual and group level
• Language policies in a transnordic perspective
• Repression and revitalization of indigenous languages
• Language endangerment and language loss
• Bi- and multilingual acquisition
• Bilingualism in individuals and society
• Language maintenance and shift
• Instruction in the other Nordic region languages in primary and secondary schools in the Nordic countries
• The impact of English on the languages of the Nordic countries
• The relationship between the use of various languages and identity
• The role of translation in communicating minority languages and cultures both within and outside the Nordic region
• Different forms of literary multilingualism
• Functions of literary multilingualism

Lectures and round tables will be divided into different sessions that reflect the key issues of the conference. The conference will conclude with a public event on Sami culture. Please submit a one-page abstract (ca. 200 – 300 words) and a short bio-note (50 words) by 15 May. Presentations (in English) will consist of a 20-minute talk followed by 10 minutes for questions and discussion. All abstracts should be submitted to nordlang24@forlilpsi.unifi.it

After the conference, participants will be invited to submit an article to a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal LEA (Lingue e Letterature d’Oriente e d’Occidente) published by the University of Florence. LEA is a “class A” journal, the highest ranking that can be accorded to a scientific journal in Italy. The publication will mirror the structure of the conference and thus consist of three main sections (Multilingualism in Society, Receptive Multilingualism, Literary Multilingualism).

The participation fee is 60 €, while the conference dinner (optional) costs 40 €. The participation fee for students is 25 €.

Key dates

• The deadline for abstract submission is 15 May 2024.
• Notification of acceptance or rejection will be sent out by 15 June 2024.
• Registration will begin on 15 June 2024.
• The conference will take place from 14 to 16 November 2024.

The conference is supported by SNU (Samarbejdsnævnet for Nordenundervisning i Udlandet).

Thème : Overlay par Kaira.