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Broadcasting the skeptron: the upset of sociolinguistic closure in Swedish public service television

Authors
  • Salö, Linus
Type
Published Article
Journal
International Journal of the Sociology of Language
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
May 11, 2022
Volume
2022
Issue
275
Pages
43–64
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/ijsl-2021-0044
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

This article explores upset reactions to purportedly deviant language use in the newsroom of the Swedish public service television company SVT. Adopting a historical gaze to contemporary struggles, it focuses on the news anchor Dina Haddad (an alias selected by me for the sake of anonymity) and the injurious, bigoted complaints she receives from detractors by virtue of speaking Swedish with a foreign accent. Through historical contextualization, the article casts Swedish public service television as a system of sociolinguistic closure, sustained through individual and institutional efforts of correction. Conceptually, it invokes the image of the skeptron to illustrate how linguistic authority is exerted through an interplay between delegators and holders. Against this backdrop, drawing on interview data and a selection of scornful emails, Haddad’s broadcast appearance is grasped as indexing the symbolic recognition of unsolicited change. Her foreign accent is perceived as revealing the countervailing upset of sociolinguistic closure, sanctioned by the establishment. For detractors, this is at once a critique against the skeptron-delegator, SVT, and the skeptron-bearer, Haddad. While the verbal attacks she receives are more about social change than language per se, I argue that the efficacy of producing linguistic complaints pertains to SVT’s historical role in sustaining doctrines of correctness.

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