Språk och kvalitet i historisk forskning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article discusses the role of language skills, mainly with regard to foreign languages, in historical research. Three principal functions of language as a historical method are identified: 1) language skills as a tool for acquiring knowledge of the international state-of-the-art; 2) language skills as a tool for communicating research; and 3) language skills as a tool for interpreting historical sources (written and oral). Based on a Google Scholar search for publications in the field of history in ten major languages, it is concluded that the dominance of English-language publications is smaller than generally assumed and that the three languages next to English – French, German and Chinese – together account for twice as many publications as English. The article also shows that the knowledge of other foreign languages than English among younger Swedish historians (below the age of 40) is significantly smaller than among their older colleagues, and few younger historians are able to read more than one foreign language apart from English. The knowledge of non-European languages, moreover, is particularly small among all generations of Swedish historians, which hampers the efforts to promote research in global history in Sweden.


  • Stefan Eklöf Amirell
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • Language, Historical method
Translated title of the contributionLanguage and Quality in Historical Research
Original languageSwedish
Pages (from-to)483-505
JournalHistorisk Tidskrift
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch