From three genders to two: The sociolinguistics of gender shift in the Jämtlandic dialect of Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The influence of standard language varieties on rural dialects is an important factor involved in dialect loss, which is widespread in Europe. In this study, we look at how the three-gender system in the Jämtlandic dialect of Sweden is changing under pressure from the two-gender system of Standard Swedish. The Jämtlandic dialect is an understudied Swedish dialect and an interesting object of study, in part because of the social and economic changes that have occurred over the past century. We performed a survey using profiled stimuli to elicit indefinite articles, definite articles and anaphoric pronouns for 36 target nouns. An analysis was conducted on the traditionalness of gender agreement in the material. We consider linguistic features (traditional gender and type of agreement), as well as sociological features (age, gender, education, geographical location, socioeconomic status, and language attitudes). The results show that most participants maintain the traditional three-gender system to a large degree. Age is the most significant predictor of traditionalness. While the youngest participants show the highest variability in gender assignment, they still retain the three-gender system to some degree. In addition, participants to whom the dialect is very important tend to use more traditional agreement.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-84
JournalActa Linguistica Hafniensia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch