Næstved – University of Copenhagen

Home > Research > Research sites > Næstved


One of the places in Denmark where LANCHART is replicating interviews is in Næstved. There were originally two projects here, namely Næstved I, which was carried out by Tore Kristiansen , and Næstved II, which was carried out by Jens Normann Jørgensen and Kjeld Kristensen.

Næstved I consists of a number of investigations into linguistic usage and the attitude to language of people born and brought up in Næstved and resident in Næstved and its neighbourhood. At LANCHART the original investigation is referred to under the name ‘Næstved I old’, while the replication of it and its extension have been given the name ‘Næstved I new’.

Below you can read about the original projects and the new Næstved I-project. You can also read about the language attitude analyses that have been carried out at schools in Næstved.

Næstved I old

Næstved I old consists of several subsidiary studies with a special focus on attitudes to language that were designed and carried out by Tore Kristiansen. Data was collected in the years 1986-1989 and again in 1998. The chief aim of the studies was:

•  to identify and describe linguistic ideal norms in the Næstved region in order to see whether a regional standard language has a future in Denmark.

The material for linguistic usage consisted of interviews with individuals from three different age-groups: children, young people and adults. In all, interviews were conducted with 123 informants. The children were pupils in the third grade from three different municipal primary schools. They were interviewed again when they were in the ninth grade. The group of young people consisted of 39 interviewees spread over eight local youth education institutions. They were interviewed once in 1986. Finally, the adult group consisted of 48 interviewees, spread evenly over gender, age and social background. They were all interviewed once in 1989.

The investigation was designed to distinguish between subconscious and conscious attitudes to linguistic usage. The subconscious attitudes are those expressed by the informants when they are not aware that the investigation is concerned with the language, while the conscious attitudes are those that are expressed when the informants are aware that they are being questioned about language. Tore Kristiansen considers that positive attitudes to the local language are necessary on both the subconscious and the conscious level if one is to argue for the existence of a regional language in Sjælland.

In both the adult and the youth groups there was a clear conflict between the subconscious and the conscious attitudes to language. The adults were at the conscious level clearly less positive towards the regional language than towards standard Danish, while unconsciously, they reacted more favourably to the regional language. Among the young language users in Næstved on the other hand there was a clear positive upgrading of the locally marked language in the conscious attitudes to language, while on the contrary, the subconscious attitudes of the young language users showed a clearly disparaging attitude towards the local language in favour of a clear upgrading of the language of Copenhagen.

Tore Kristiansen concludes that a regional language for Sjælland would find it difficult to survive. Among the young people it was the Copenhagen language –and not the local language that formed the ideal norm that they aspired to achieve.


Tore Kristiansen & Howard Giles (1992): Compliance-gaining as a function of accent: public requests in varieties of Danish. International Journal of Applied Lin­guistics, vol.2, no.1:17-35.

Tore Kristiansen (1997a): Language Attitudes in a Danish Cinema. Nikolas Coupland and Adam Jaworski (eds): Sociolinguistics. A Reader and Coursebook. Macmillan Press LTD. London 1997: 291-305.

Tore Kristiansen (1997b): The extreme case of Denmark: far-reaching standardisation and disappearance of all traditional dialects. Why does it happen? European Science Foundation Network on 'Social dialectology. The convergence and divergence of dialects in a changing Europe'. Proccedings of the First workshop: 'The role of standard varieties in the convergence and divergence of dialects' held in Berg en dal (near Nijmegen, The Netherlands) July 4-6, 1996.

Tore Kristiansen  (1998): The role of standard ideology in the disappearance of the traditional Danish dialects. Folia Linguistica XXXII/1-2, 115-129 (revised version of 1997b)

Tore Kristiansen (2001): Two Standards: One for the Media and One for the School. Language Awareness 10:1 (Special Issue: Changing Representations of Standardness in late Modernity: The Case of Denmark): 9-24.

Tore Kristiansen (2003a): Language attitudes and language politics in Denmark. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 159 (Special Issue: The Sociolinguistics of Danish): 57-71.

Tore Kristiansen (2003b): The youth and the gatekeepers: reproduction and change in language norm and variation. Jannis K. Androutsopoulos and Alexandra Georgakopoulou (eds) Discourse Constructions of Youth Identities. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins: 279-302.

Tore Kristiansen (2004): Social meaning and norm-ideals for speech in a Danish community. Adam Jaworski, Nikolas Coupland and Dariusz Galasinski (eds) Metalanguage. Social and Ideological Perspectives. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter: 167-192.

Tore Kristiansen & Jens Normann Jørgensen (2005a): Subjective factors in dialect convergence and divergence. Peter Auer, Frans Hinskens and Paul Kerswill (eds) Dialect Change. Convergence and Divergence in European Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 287-302.

Tore Kristiansen & Peter Garrett and Nikolas Coupland (2005b): Introducing subjectivities in language variation and change. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 37 (Special Issue: Subjective Processes in Language Variation and Change): 9-35.

Næstved I new

In LANCHART’s replication of the original Næstved I-project it has been possible to find and replicate an interview with 34 of the original 48 adult informants. From among these informants we have formed a focus-group of 24 informants and as an introduction we have concentrated on analysing their language. The focus-group has been selected against the background of sex, age and social class. Since some of the original 48 informants did not want to take part in a new interview and others had been impossible to locate, it has been necessary to supplement the original groups with five new adult informants in the focus-group.

Out of the 36 primary school pupils (‘the children’s group’ in the original investigation) we have located and interviewed 20 informants.

Finally, there is the group of informants who in 1986 were attached to a youth education institution. Here we have located and interviewed 19 of the 39 informants.

Næstved II

One of the projects that is being replicated Jens Normann Jørgensen and Kjeld Kristensen’s investigation of the spoken language in Næstved at the end of the 1980s. This investigation is referred to here as Næstved II to distinguish it from Tore Kristiansen’s contemporary investigation in Næstved, which is referred to as Næstved I. The original investigation is called Næstved II old and the replication of the interviews recorded then is called Næstved II new, cf. the naming of the other projects under LANCHART.

Below you can read a presentation of the Næstved II old project and a plan for the gathering of material for Næstved II new, as well as a status over how far we have come until now.

Næstved II old

The original Næstved II-project was carried out by Jens Normann Jørgensen and Kjeld Kristensen. It was an investigation of regional features in the spoken language of young people from Sjælland and had two main aims:
•  to describe the spoken regional language of Sjælland
•  to examine the relationship between local features of pronunciation and those closer to the standard language among young people in Sjælland recorded in the same situation in three successive years.
The project was an empirical investigation of language usage, particularly the pronunciation, of a large group of young people from southern Sjælland from Næstved and the neighbourhood. The core group of informants consisted of 24 pupils from Næstved gymnasium and HF (Higher Preparatory Examination) and 24 efg-pupils undergoing basic vocational training at Næstved technical school. In addition, there where 12 day-pupils from Herlufsholm school (a private fee-paying school). In each of these groups the pupils were mixed so that boys and girls, country folk and townspeople were evenly represented.

The informants, all of whom were born in 1969-70, were recorded three times at intervals of one year, in 1986, 1987 and 1989, while they were attending the first, second and third years of their various educational courses.

In each year each individual pupil was recorded in two different conversational situations:

•  a formal interview
•  an informal group-conversation

In each group-conservation normally consisted of four participants, all of whom knew each other in advance. The composition of the groups with respect to the numbers of boys and girls and pupils from town and country varied.

The main results of Næstved II old were that very little of the classical Sjælland language survived in 1986. In most respects, the young people in Næstved spoke the Copenhagen language. There were, however, a few exceptions; for example the young people had a more distinct glottal stop, and they had a stop in small words such as nu, endnu and vi, Another result was that there was no difference between the spoken language of people from the country and from the town. There was a small difference between pupils at the 'gymnasium' (i.e. high school) and those at the technical school, in that the latter spoke a slightly more markedly Sjælland language. The clearest distinction was between the boys and the girls, for the girls spoke a more conservative language than the boys. The boys had more flat a-sounds, they said more often tratten (for tretten) and they also showed in other ways that their spoken language was more influenced by the modern Copenhagen language.

That the girls in Næstved spoke a less Copenhagen-influenced language that the boys is particularly interesting in the light of the results of the contemporary Næstved I-project. In his analysis of the attitudes to language among young people in Næstved in 1986 Tore Kristiansen found, namely, that it was the girls who had the most positive attitude to the modern Copenhagen standard language.

A current theory about language change assumes that attitudes to language influence the user, i.e. that people, who, for example, are positive over for the modern Copenhagen standard language without speaking it themselves, would be more likely to adapt features from it. Against the background of the results of Næstved I it would have been expected that the girls who in 1986 were more positive than the boys over for the modern Copenhagen standard language would have adapted their own language so that now, 20 years later, they would have spoken more modern Copenhagen language and less conservative Sjælland – both less than earlier and less than the boys, who had been less positive over for the modern Copenhagen standard language. This assumption will be able to be tested by analysing the new recordings.


Jens Normann Jørgensen & Kjeld Kristensen (1996): On boundaries in linguistic continua. Language Variation and Change vol. 7, s. 153-168. Cambridge University Press.

Næstved II new

The aim with Næstved II is to replicate the design of the investigation for Næstved II old with group conversations and short interviews in order to:

•  compare the results of Næstved II new with those from Næstved II old
•  examine whether the pronunciation of the informants varies between that in the
interview and that in the group conversation
•  examine the link between the interactional variation of the informants in the group
conversations (e.g. in the form of competition to get a chance to speak) and their social background
•  examine the link between the place of education of the informants and their local, national or international orientation
•  examine the link between the orientation of the informants and their linguistic development

In addition, it would be natural to examine how the pronunciation of the informants has changed and how these changes work together with the general pattern in attitudes to the language among young people in Næstved in 1986. We are particularly interested in finding out whether there is still a difference between the pronunciation of the girls and the boys, and whether the girls – as predicted by the old investigations of attitudes to language – speak more like Copenhageners today.

In the original Næstved II-project it was only the recordings from 1986 of the 48 schoolchildren in the core information group and those from the 12 pupils from Herlufsholm school that were analysed. In addition, recordings were made of a further 24 pupils from Næstved gymnasium and technical school but these were not analysed. The group of informants from which we can gather new data thus consists of 84 individuals.

In the planning of the replicated interviews we have focused on the pupils about whom we have most material, namely those who took part in both an interview and a group-conservation in the three successive years, and these have been analysed. From this group we are planning to carry out interviews and group-conversations with 40 informants, i.e. approximately 10 groups, as far as possible evenly divided with respect to sex and the original schools.