English as an international language of science and its effect on Nordic terminology: the view of scientists

Hultgren, Anna Kristina (2015). English as an international language of science and its effect on Nordic terminology: the view of scientists. In: Linn, Andrew; Bermel, Neil and Ferguson, Gibson eds. Attitudes towards English in Europe. Language and Social Life (2). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 139–164.

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Abstract

This chapter is concerned with attitudes to English as an international language of science among Nordic scientists. It reports on a questionnaire completed by 200+ physicists, chemists and computer scientists at universities in five Nordic countries: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The purpose is two-fold: First, it investigates if claims made primarily by representatives of the national language councils about a lack of local language terminology are corroborated by scientists themselves. It is found that Nordic scientists do believe that local language terminology is missing, but the extent to which they consider this problematic or a cause for concern varies. Second, the study compares attitudes across the five national contexts. Previous studies have documented that attitudes towards English held by the general public in the Nordic community can be ranked on a continuum with Icelanders being the most purist and Danes the least (Kristiansen and Sandøy 2010; Kristiansen 2010). This continuum is not replicated among Nordic scientists. Some possible reasons are discussed as well as some implications for language policy.

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