2004
Volume 71 Number 2
  • ISSN: 0039-8691
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1214

Abstract

Abstract

Late medieval Sweden was a multilingual society. At least three languages – namely Old Swedish, Low German, and Latin – were in use, beside other regional languages. While the influence of Low German is easily detectable in all parts of the Swedish language system and has been investigated rather thoroughly from a historical sociolinguistic point of view (cf. Braunmüller 2004), the role of Latin has been rather marginalized in traditional Swedish language historiography, focusing on the earlier stages of Old Swedish, which are described as its classical form (cf. Pettersson 2005). Starting out as the language of religion, administration, diplomacy and, to some extent, trade, Latin was the dominant language of text production in Sweden until the 14th century, which saw Written Old Swedish gain some domains as well, resulting in a more balanced diglossic relation between the two languages. The emerging written variety of Swedish, however, was heavily influenced by the multilingual practices of scribes, in large part clerics who were used to using at least Swedish and Latin on a daily basis for a variety of communicative purposes (Höder 2010). These multilingual practices, ranging from ad hoc translations via code-switching to the application of Latin stylistic, textual, and syntactic norms in Swedish text production (Höder 2018), had a lasting impact on the later development of a Swedish proto-standard, and are still reflected in conservative text types today. This contribution approaches this development from a historical sociolinguistic and contact linguistic perspective, concentrating on the establishment of multilingual practices.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): language Ausbau; Latin; multilingual practices; Old Swedish; standardization
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