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From internationalisation to globalisation : Language and the nationalist revival in Sweden

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In recent years, much has been made in the media and in academic circles of the risk that the world is heading towards linguistic convergence. But as internationalisation gives way to globalisation, as the emphasis shifts from mere contact between states to pressures for homogeneity, there is a paradoxical tendency towards cultural divergence. Economic-inspired theories of globalisation seem to have underestimated the power of identity, which has contributed to nationalist revivals around the globe. This paper therefore seeks to make identity considerations more central to the current debate on language and globalisation, by focusing on the lesser-known context of Sweden. The minimal importance attributed to national and linguistic identity in Sweden during the era of internationalisation is contrasted with the renewed sense of national identity that has arisen in the more advanced era of globalisation. This nationalist revival could provide the necessary support amongst the general public for the protective language planning measures for Swedish currently proposed. With its traditionally positive attitudes towards English, the case of Sweden thus offers a unique opportunity to examine whether it is possible to establish a stable diglossic relationship between English and a national language, thereby reducing the risk of language shift that globalisation is so often claimed to pose.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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