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Parallelingualism. What can Nordic language policy learn from its past?

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Across the Nordic countries there is anxiety at government level that the national languages are undergoing a process of ‘domain loss’ whereby certain professional fields are now operating entirely or to a large extent through the medium of English and that, as a consequence, the national languages will cease to be ‘full-service’ languages in the future.

Over the past decade this concern has fuelled extensive language policy development and new forms of language planning at national and at pan-Nordic level. The key policy to address the challenge of domain loss is that of ‘parallelingualism’.

In this paper I will present this policy and seek to understand what it means in theory and in practice, particularly in the context of Higher Education. An official policy on the parallel use of several languages or language varieties is not a new one in the Nordic context, and a key question in this paper will be what this new policy can learn from the past experience of similar language planning.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Linguistics Forum series.

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