"My dialect is awesome!" - Dialect attitudes among lower secondary school pupils in Hedmark, Norway
2022-04-12, 11:00–11:30 (Europe/Vienna), Room 6


Languages are in a continuous state of change, and spoken language change very often represents the first step towards establishing more permanent changes in both spoken and written language. This paper presents a PhD project on attitudes towards spoken dialect changes among teenagers in Hedmark county. A primary assumption in the project is that the study of attitudes is vital for uncovering the underlying causes of spoken language change, following Garret (2010, p. 224): “Language attitudes can drive change”.
For my project I chose to visit eight lower secondary schools in two very different parts of Inland Norway. Selecting these two areas made it possible to compare the attitudes of teenagers living in fast growing areas close to the capital Oslo to those of teenagers in declining rural areas further away from the capital.
The theoretical framework for my dissertation is primarily rooted in Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas. An important motivation for this choice is the fact that Bourdieu is a social scientist, thus viewing language from a social sciences perspective rather than a linguistics perspective.
The project is a quantitative study with 350 informants. I have employed the matched guise technique, where the teenagers listened to a total of four varieties: spoken dialects from East Oslo and West Oslo, in addition to traditional and more recent dialects from their own regions. The method employed in this project is based on the test design developed at Sprogforandringscenteret at the University of Copenhagen (Kristiansen, 1991), and my project thus facilitates a comparative Nordic perspective.
I wish to compare my results to comparable investigations in Europe, and I have selected the following six investigations:

  1. Denmark I (Kristiansen, 20009)
  2. Western Norway (Sandøy, 2013)
  3. Faroe Islands (Bugge, 2018)
  4. The Stuttgart area (Svenstrup, 2019)
  5. Lithuania (Vaicekauskienė, 2019)
  6. Denmark II (Maegaard & Quist, 2019)

This is the first investigation of its kind from Eastern Norway, and it concludes that there is a stark contrast between the subconscious attitudes of teenagers in Hedmark towards dialect use, and that which is reported in the investigations listed above. Oslo represents the norm centre for these teenagers. However, the matched guise test shows that varieties that are further from Oslo rank higher.


Bugge, Edit. (2018). Attitudes to variation in spoken Faroese. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 22(3), 312–330. doi:10.1111/josl.12283

Garrett, Peter. (2010). Attitudes to languages. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Kristiansen, Tore. (2009). The macro-level social meanings of late-modern Danish accents. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, 41(1), 167–192. doi:10.1080/03740460903364219

Maegaard, Marie & Quist, Pia. (2019). Perception, Recognition and Indexicality: Experimental Investigations of Variation in Northern Jutland, Southern Jutland and on Bornholm. In Marie Maegaard, Malene Monka, Kristine Køhler Mortensen, & Andreas Candefors Stæhr (Eds.), Standardization as sociolinguistic change: A transversal study of three traditional dialect areas (pp. 145–168). New York: Routledge.

Sandøy, Helge. (2013). Driving forces in language change: In the Norwegian perspective. In Tore Kristiansen & Stefan Grondelaers (Eds.), Language (De)standardisation in Late Modern Europe: Experimental Studies (pp. 125–151). Oslo: Novus press.

Svenstrup, Christoph Hare. (2019). «…weil die Zukunft in Hochdeutsch liegt…» («…because Hochdeutsch is the future…»). (PhD dissertation), Københavns Universitet, København.

Vaicekauskienė, Loreta. (2019). Driving Forces behind Language Change. Does Danish Theory Hold up in Lithuania? Scandinavistica Vilnensis, 14, 241–272.