Prohibited Language: Language and Masculinities in a Swedish Educational Context

Rickard Jonsson

Ceifo, University of Stockholm, Sweden

WS130: Re-casting Language and Masculinities

The point of departure of this paper is a public debate which took place in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter in 2006 and dealt with the so-called “blattesvenska”, an allegedly variety of Swedish spoken by young people of multiethnic descent. A strand of the debate focused specifically on how adolescents in Swedish multiethnic suburbs speak poor Swedish or even an “unintelligible” and inappropriate sexist language. Drawing upon Judith Butler's (1990) performativity theory, the paper will argue that comments about others’ “inappropriate language” contributes to both construct a normative swedishness and to create the “immigrant young man stereotype”. But no language is unintelligible. Rather, on the basis of ethnographic observations in a school in a suburb of Stockholm (cf. Jonsson 2007), the paper examines how and why some teenage boys actually use the language which has been target for moral concern in the public debate. Here attention is paid to these adolescents’ actual use of slang and ‘prohibited’ language, and to the masculine identities that these linguistic activities produce in daily school life.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
Re-casting language and masculinities
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 09:00-10:30
room: 05