WP203 Regimenting Övdalsk: Sociolinguistic differentiation and the spectre of the European Charter in Sweden’s language politics

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This paper deals with symbolic power and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML). Tracing some recent developments in Sweden?s language politics (1997?2015), it focuses primarily on the politics of sociolinguistic differentiation and the politicisation of metalinguistic categories. It analyses the contention that has developed over the regimentation of ?vdalsk, a minor non-standardised form of Scandinavian mostly spoken in a rural parish in western central Sweden (?lvdalen). Over nearly two decades, the question of what ?vdalsk ?is? ? a ?language?, a ?dialect? or something else ? has surged repeatedly in political, public and scholarly debates, in expert reports, in policy documents and in scientific publications. Yet, the fact that the debate has centred almost exclusive on this muddled taxonomic issue has not been addressed. This paper seeks to cover this ground. Drawing on Bourdieu?s work on the state, it attends on the ways in which the exchange over ?vdalsk has paid tribute to an increasingly entrenched symbolic order. Commenting on the ECRML more generally, the paper accounts for how and why an officialised vision of linguistic division is rendered symbolically effective. In this vein, the paper argues that a sensitisation to the tacit agreement upon which all contention rests is apt for grasping the maintenance of a political order as legitimate and symbolically effective.