Hip-hop, ethnicity and linguistic practice in rural and urban Norway

Endre Brunstad, Unn Røyneland

University of Bergen, Norway University of Oslo, Norway

WS139: Hip-hop across the globe: what exactly is going global?

This paper will discuss how notions of ‘rurality’, ‘urbanity’ and ‘ethnicity’ are connected to linguistic practices and language attitudes in contemporary Norwegian Hip-hop.

Since 2000, Norwegian Hip-hop has been characterised by a strong Norwegian-language scene. At the same time, English is used, and we find an abundance of English loan-words and code-switching, as well as references to the American basis for Hip-hop.

In recent years, urban centres, particularly Oslo, have seen the emergence of ethnically mixed Hip-hop groups making use of various languages in their lyrics, though with Norwegian at the core. This linguistic practice appears as a self-conscious development of a new Norwegian dialect – the creation of a shared dialect of the minorities. These groups seem to have a significant influence on the formation of a Norwegian multiethnolectal speech style among adolescents in multicultural environments.

Another prominent feature of Norwegian Hip-hop is its connection to rural life style and rural dialects. The success of Hip-hop artists combining elements from American gangsta-rap and Norwegian rurality may be regarded as a sign of the cultural and linguistic status of rural areas in Norway. However, the irony and crossovers of this kind of Hip-hop seem to be understood differently in urban and rural areas.

In our paper we will explore the different developments in rural and urban areas in Norway and on the basis of our ongoing studies discuss how Hip-hop is re-contextualized and made local.

Session: Workshop
Hip-hop across the globe: what exactly is going global?
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 01