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Winning the Dialect Popularity Contest: Mass-mediated Language Ideologies and Local Responses in Rural Valdres, Norway

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Abstract

In 2005, Norway's largest national radio network held a first-of-its-kind dialect popularity contest as part of its highly rated summer morning show. Listeners called in to vote for their favorite Norwegian dialect, and after eight weeks of voting and elimination rounds the rural Valdres valley was crowned national dialect champion. Winning the dialect popularity contest has contributed to a renewed sense of pride in using the distinctive local variety, particularly among young people, despite long-term convergence toward an urban regional norm. Taking the dialect contest as a point of departure, this paper presents theoretical insights into 1) the role of mass media in the reproduction of historically contingent national language ideologies, 2) the local effects and varied uptakes of mass-mediated ideologies, particularly along generational lines, and 3) the role of sociolinguistic aesthetics in mediating potential language-ideological contradictions. [dialect, language ideologies, Norwegian, mass media]

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