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Pia Nilsson

SPRÅK PÅ MUSEUM. En undersökning av allmänhetens och språkexperters syn på ett svenskt språkmuseum 

LANGUAGE IN THE MUSEUM. An investigation of the views held by the public and by language experts on a Swedish language museum.

Pia Nilssons thesis investigates the expectations of 4 different social groups towards the content and exhibition design of a Swedish language museum. By combining quantitative and qualitative methods, she clearly identifies the preferences of each of the 4 groups and characterizes them according to variables such as gender, age, professional background and degrees of expertise.

The thesis uncovers a gap between laypersons and experts, where laypersons seem to be most interested in the social aspects of language and the origins of languages, whereas language experts tend to include the full spectrum of linguistic disciplines including language policy as potential topics for a language museum. It shows that the interest in multilingualism and the languages of the world by laypersons is much stronger that language experts think.

The strength of Pial Nilssons thesis lies in the application of theoretical perspectives from different disciplines (organisation theory, communication theory, linguistics and science theory) on a practical communication challenge – the promotion of linguistics as a scientific discipline in a language museum. Her reflections take their point of departure in a well-researched and concise account of the historical development of Swedish language policies.

By keeping the focus on how the visitor interacts and engages with - and thereby makes sense of - the information that can be offered in the museum, she opens a rich perspective on how to prioritize and display knowledge about language(s) in a future exhibition. In her study, Pia Nilsson is able to encompass, respect and embrace the many different individual attitudes towards language that exist in the Swedish society today.

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