Research / Projects

The women’s movement and language

The aim of this study is to describe the role of the second wave of the feminist movement in Sweden in feminist language planning.

The women's movement has radically changed society on many different levels. But how has it affected language? This study focuses on the 1970’s, a decade when books like Robin Lakoff’s Language and woman's place argued that language was part of women's oppression. In the U.S. and Germany the issue of sexist language led to heated discussions (Pauwels 1998), and guidelines (e.g. Miller & Swift 1980) on non-sexist language were published.

The Swedish discussion has instead been described as very low key. Only a few studies mapped the relationship between patriarchy and the Swedish language. However, this did not lead to any public debate or to the publication of guidelines on non-sexist language. How did the Swedish women's movement discuss the question of language? Which language reforms did they put forward, and how did they work to implement the changes?

Our preliminary results show that the Swedish women´s movement did not work to implement feminist language reforms to any large extent during the second wave of feminism. The linguistic changes that took place with reference to the women´s liberation were instead the work of the official language planning organizations in connection to the work on plain language.



Project Manager

Karin Milles
Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor
School of Culture and Education

People linked to the project

Lena Lind Palicki, Språkrådet

More information

Project start: 2014
Project end: 2017

Financier: Erik Wellanders fond, Ridderstads fond

Research linked to the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe: No

Information på svenska

Subjects to which the project is linked

School/centre to which the project is linked