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Language diversification in the Nordic languages

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2022

Marjatta Palander
University of Eastern Finland
Maria Kok
University of Eastern Finland
Helka Riionheimo
University of Eastern Finland
Milla Uusitupa
University of Eastern Finland


Call for Papers
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Nordic Association of Linguistics

The second issue of Volume 46 (Autumn 2023) of the Nordic Journal of Linguistics will be a special issue devoted to language diversification in the Nordic languages within the broad frameworks of contact linguistics and language typology. The issue will be edited by Marjatta Palander, Maria Kok, Helka Riionheimo and Milla Uusitupa of the School of Humanities, Finnish Language and Cultural Research, University of Eastern Finland. The aim of this NJL special issue will be to analyse empirically how migration, living in isolation and encounters with other languages affect the structure of a language variety and ultimately give rise to the emergence of new varieties. By language diversification, we refer here to complex, long-lasting processes which arise in situations where a part of a speech community is isolated from the other parts due to, for example, migration or a shift in the administrative borders. In addition to isolation and separation, these processes are often characterised by cross-linguistic influences from various sources. A further aspect in language diversification is the way in which it is reflected in speakers’ linguistic awareness and their conceptions of its linguistic features.

Language diversification stands at the intersection of several fields of linguistic research, conjoined by language contact and multilingualism. Consequently, this call for papers covers a range of timely topics. For example, the effects of isolation versus language contact on language structure have been a recurrent theme in recent typological research related to linguistic complexity (see e.g. Baechler & Seiler Reference Baechler, Seiler, Baechler and Seiler2016, Miestamo Reference Miestamo2017). In the field of dialectology and sociolinguistics, a theoretical approach directly linked to this call is new-dialect formation, defined as ‘a linguistic situation which arises when there is a mixture of dialects leading to a single new dialect which is different from all inputs’ (Hickey Reference Hickey and Hickey2003:214). The theory has mainly been elaborated in colonial settings (e.g. Trudgill Reference Trudgill2006, Siegel Reference Siegel2010, Mooney Reference Mooney2011) and in what are referred to as the new town settings (e.g. Kerswill & Trudgill Reference Kerswill, Trudgill, Auer, Hinskens and Kerswill2005, Al-Wer Reference Al-Wer, Lucas and Manfredi2020), and it would be interesting to extend it to other linguistic environments and power relations. The viewpoints provided by perceptual dialectology and studies of language awareness are also relevant: language users’ perceptions and awareness serve as another fruitful viewpoint for looking at language diversification (e.g. Eppler & Benedikt Reference Eppler and Benedikt2017, Lasagabaster Reference Lasagabaster, Garrett and Cots2017).

Language diversification is also a prominent phenomenon in the context of endangered languages, especially in the case of transnational minority languages spoken under the pressure of different dominant languages (for North Saami, spoken in Finland, Sweden and Norway, see Aikio, Arola & Kunnas Reference Aikio, Arola, Kunnas, Smakman and Heinrich2015). Revitalisation of endangered varieties offers yet another perspective on language diversification: the emancipatory efforts often involve the need to emphasise the independent nature of the variety and to distinguish it from other varieties or from the dominant language (an example of this is the way Meänkieli has been developed in Sweden from a local Finnish dialect into an official, recognised minority language – see e.g. Lainio & Wande Reference Lainio and Wande2015). This kind of conscious aim at achieving linguistic differentiation is related to the recent notion of language making, referring to (among other things) processes in which the speakers or other language users distinguish their variety from other varieties (for the broad use of this notion, see Krämer, Vogl & Kolehmainen forthcoming).

In sum, for this forthcoming special issue of NJL we invite articles that will examine linguistic diversification in its various forms, such as dialectal evolution and new-dialect formation, and other relevant phenomena. In particular, we hope to receive contributions focusing on minority languages and other less studied varieties. According to the policy of NJL, a special focus is expected to be placed on the widest range of Nordic languages, including Greenlandic and also the Saami and Finnic languages.

The deadline for the submission of articles will be 1 November 2022. The reviewing process will take place during winter 2022 and spring 2023. Submissions should be sent via the NJL ScholarOne/Manuscript Central site at Please consult the Journal’s Instructions for Contributors at and adhere as closely as possible to the guidelines for manuscript formatting.

If you have questions about the special issue, please contact Marjatta Palander () or Maria Kok ().


Aikio, Ante, Arola, Laura & Kunnas, Niina. 2015. Variation in North Saami. In Smakman, Dick & Heinrich, Patrik (eds.), Globalising Sociolinguistics: Challenging and Expanding Theory, 243255. London: Routledge. Scholar
Al-Wer, Enam. 2020. New-dialect formation: The Amman dialect. In Lucas, Christopher & Manfredi, Stefano (eds.), Arabic and Contact-induced Change (Contact and Multilingualism 1), 551566. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.Google Scholar
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