Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Language Unity and Diversity in the Administrative Writing of the Swedish Baltic Empire


Projektledare: Oliver Blomqvist
Startår: 2021
Projekttyp: Postdokprojekt

This project aims to elucidate multilingual administrative writing in the Swedish Baltic empire during the emergence of national language ideology. This ideology consisted of two components: language standardization and unification, and the promotion of the Swedish language as a defining characteristic of Swedish nationhood. The purpose is to study how this emergent ideology affected long-established practices of multilingual writing within the domain of administration. The source material for this study consists of lower- court protocols from Finnish-speaking districts in the Swedish Circum-Baltic area. Court scribes were obliged to render all details of legal proceedings conscientiously and truthfully, while adhering to the strict formal constraints that applied to court writing, notably the use of the Swedish language. The aim is to examine the linguistic, textual, and graphic means that the court scribes employed to mediate between these two obligations in multilingual court settings, and to describe how these practices changed over time during the increasing imposition of a (monolingual) standard language ideology. The study is conducted within a framework of contact linguistics, multimodal text analysis and social history. The focus on multilingual texts rather than monolingual domain conquering and language cultivation offers a new perspective on the history of language standardization and unification, and of multilingualism and minority languages in Sweden.