January 27, 2023


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97 percent of them are written in English

language policy

The review shows that the government administrative bodies that carry out research and development work publish very little in Norwegian.

Three researchers at the Scandinavian Institute for the Study of Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) battled the use of language in state governing bodies, with the exception of research institutions that conduct research and development (R&D) work.

The result shows that the department has an increasing production of science in English.

In fact, the survey shows that nine out of ten research articles published by 97 government administrative bodies involved in research and development were written in English in the period 2012-21.

If you look exclusively at the percentage of English in 2021, the number is 97 percent.

– This survey is a warning to the search policy and language policy authorities. Should the scientific language be English in governing bodies serving important social tasks? says NIFU researcher Vera Schwash.

Read more about the survey here.

Many Ph.D

Together with colleagues Henrik Karlstrøm and Silje Marie Svartefoss, Schwach sifted through 1,200 scientific publications written by employees of governing bodies between 2012 and 2021.

They found that 1,077 were written in English, while 117 were written in Norwegian. The remaining six have been written in other languages.

Schwash believes that one possible explanation for the rise in English is the increased influx of research-trained staff in the past 10 years.

She notes that the number of doctoral degrees awarded in Norway has increased steadily over the past twenty years. In 2000 647 Ph.D. degrees were conferred. In 2010, the number increased to 1,185 candidates, while it was 1,934 in 2020.

– Many PhD holders do not work in academia. They bring with them the academic tradition of writing in English. Schwach says this effect is also reinforced by the lack of Scandinavian-language magazines.

It can have a huge impact

They also note that the number of publications has been steadily increasing. In 2012, the governing bodies issued 59 scholarly publications. In 2021, the number has increased to 230.

Chawash believes that the situation in the administration has gone under the radar. While much has been written about the importance of interest in professional Norwegian in the university and college sector, the shift towards English in the publications of governing bodies has gone unnoticed.

Schwash thinks the effect could be significant.

– We get poorly technical Norwegian language, with technical terms and English translations and a way of thinking that is distinct from English American culture and way of thinking. If you want to have a good Norwegian pro-language, you actually have to smoke it and have a political focus on it, Schwach says.

The researcher believes that the use of English can also have an alienating effect.

– I think it is essential that you understand what you are about to read. Chawash says it is an important prerequisite for a vibrant democracy with transparency in public administration.

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