Tromsø as a 'Sámi Town'? - Language ideologies, attitudes, and debates surrounding bilingual language policies

Hiss, Florian
May 2013
Language Policy;May2013, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p177
Academic Journal
The study focuses on local people's expressions of attitudes and ideologies in the light of proposed Sámi-Norwegian bilingual policies in their Northern Norwegian hometown. The local politicians' plan to introduce the bilingual regulations of an 'administrative area for the Sámi language' in the town of Tromsø encountered conflicting language ideologies and attitudes among the local population and precipitated a vivid and sometimes rude debate about identities, ethnicity, and local belonging. Focusing on the mechanisms of social evaluation vis-à-vis the Sámi and Norwegian languages, the analysis of attitudes and stance-taking in texts (e.g., letters to the editor) in local newspapers reveals how writers anchor their evaluations and personal stances to the relations between the self, the recipients, and shared, ideological systems of values. Ideologies about Sámi and Norwegian are mainly brought up implicitly in these relations. A large number of evaluations are expressed as judgements of other people's behaviour, and language plays only a relatively marginal role as a target of most writers' evaluations. The paper concludes by discussing the ideological boundaries that writers construe simultaneously with their construction of interactional bonds, and the metalinguistic contextualization of the Sámi language within these debates.


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