Staffan Hellberg. Foto: Niklas Björling

Staffan Hellberg

Professor emeritus i nordiska språk

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at The Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D
Room D 671
Postal address Inst. för svenska och flerspråkighet 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Professor emeritus in Scandinavian Languages.


Research areas

Text analysis, pragmatics, semantics, syntax, morphology, phonology.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Staffan Hellberg (et al.).

    Artiklarna behandlar vitt skilda ämnen: ljudförändringar, perspektiv i skönlitteratur, substantivböjning, dialogicitet och dolda konflikter i myndighetstext, adjektivens grundläggande betydelser, ordet vikings historia, svenskans sätt att uttrycka uppmaningar och åtskilligt annat. Genomgående kännetecknas de av att omsorgsfull empirisk kartläggning förenas med djupgående diskussion av modeller och teorier. För den som vill förstå hur en modern lingvist arbetar vetenskapligt med svenskt och nordiskt språk finns här mycket att läsa och lära.

  • 2016. Staffan Hellberg. Arkiv för nordisk filologi 131, 171-199

    In Old Swedish, the noun bak(er) had the meaning ’back (of a human being or an animal)’, in present-day Swedish, the noun bak means ’bum’. In the 18th and 19th centuries, both meanings occurred in standard language. It is argued that the meaning did not shift directly from one body part to another; rather, the meaning ’bum’ derives mainly from the adverb bak ‘at the back’ which has from Old Swedish times often referred euphemistically to the bum. The process can thus be seen as an instance of degrammaticalization. However, influence was certainly also exerted by French le derrière, as well as German der Hintere, both of which show the same euphemism as bak. Moreover, bak was possibly regarded as a truncation of the noun bakände ’bum; lit. end of back’.

  • 2015. Staffan Hellberg. Det skönlitterära språket, 99-115
  • 2015. Staffan Hellberg. Samlaren 135, 86-99

    Strindberg’s decision to write the third version of his drama Master Olof in verse may have been a concession to historical drama tradition. The question posed here is whether he renewed the Swedish verse drama. It is shown that, contrary to general belief, Strindberg was the first writer in the 19th century to use doggerel verse. Concerning poetic word order, his renewal is less apparent, although he shows a special tendency to vary the degree and kind of poetic word order with the situation. Finally, the dialogue is examined with a conversation analysis method. It is shown that Strindberg’s characters, also in verse drama, change the subject of the conversation in a manner closer to observed natural talk than do those of his predecessors.

  • 2014. Erik Magnusson Petzell, Staffan Hellberg. Lingua 143, 203-223

    It is generally assumed that recurrent deviations from ordinary language in poetry have a non-complex relationship to ordinary grammar. This assumption has been formulated by Fabb (2010) as the Development Hypothesis (DH). In this paper, DH is elaborated within a generative framework and tested upon deviant word order in a sample of 19th century Swedish poetry. The result is that the hypothesis is fairly well corroborated, although not totally. In closing, an alternative hypothesis by Thoms (2010), the Non-Uniformity Hypothesis, is tested. It claims that poetry has more of its own syntax. This hypothesis is shown to yield, on the whole, predictions just as good as OH. Neither of the hypotheses, however, lasts the entire course.

  • 2013. Staffan Hellberg.

    Nyåret 2013 upphörde Institutionen för nordiska språk vid Stockholms universitet som egen enhet och gick upp i den nybildade Institutionen för svenska och flerspråkighet. Forskning och undervisning i svenska och övriga nordiska språk fortsätter i oförminskad omfattning, men skiftet har ändå gett anledning att blicka tillbaka på Nordiska språks historia som organisatorisk enhet, från tillsättningen av den första professuren 1928. I denna volym har samlats sjutton artiklar av lärare och forskare som har varit verksamma vid den gamla insitutionen en längre tid. En inledning presenterar författarna och de olika fält av språkvetenskapen de har varit verksamma inom. Som helhet ger boken en bild av ämnets förändring över tid.

  • 2012. Staffan Hellberg. Journal of Curriculum Studies 44 (3), 381-402

    Seven successive curricula for Swedish in the Swedish primary school are investigated using a linguistic method that traces its origin to the Russian literary theorist, Michail Bakhtin. The amount of dialogicity, viewed as the room given to different paradigms to argue against each other, is shown to decrease from the earlier curricula to the later ones. The few dialogues in the later curricula are also shown to be vague in character, making it difficult to attribute the voices to different paradigms. It is argued that this vagueness is in keeping with the tradition of corporatism in Sweden, where consensus is reached at the cost of less clarity and concretion. It is rather the clarity of the earlier curricula that demands explanation and some explanations are tested. In the most recent development, politicians have lost their interest in the wordings of the curriculum and concentrate on formulating goals for different grades. By doing so, they steer the subject of Swedish in the direction of the Swedish as Skills paradigm, with the suppression of Swedish as Personal Growth or Swedish as Critical Literacy, very much imitating the corresponding New Labour programme in England.

  • 2010. Staffan Hellberg. Bo65. Festskrift till Bo Ralph, 409-417
  • 2008. Staffan Hellberg. Nog ordat?, 148-156

    Antalet adverb i svenskan har minskat dels därför att de grammatiska beskrivningarna har omdefinierat typen "tydligt" och typen "på", dels därför att typerna "hundratals" och "massvis" i samband med betydelseförskjutning har börjat konstrueras annorlunda, dels därför att många adverb av typerna "hjälpligen" och "därav" mer eller mindre fullständigt har kommit ur bruk.

  • 2008. Staffan Hellberg. Vi ska alla vara välkomna!, 139-148

    Olika framförda förslag till etymologin hos fvn. víkingr granskas, och slutsatsen blir att etymologin '(mans)person från Viken' kvarstår som ett möjligt alternativ.

  • 2008. Staffan Hellberg. Språk och stil: Tidskrift för svensk språkforskning 18, 5-37

    This is a study, in the polyphonic sense of Bakhtin, of the occurrence of different voices in a seemingly monologic text. The question is posed whether and to what extent polyphony – of a conflicting kind – occurs in prescriptive texts such as curricula for Swedish in Swedish compulsory schools from 1962 through 2000, when the most recent one was approved. Hidden dialogue is studied in four types of constructions: (1) contrastive relations indicated by the conjunction men ‘but’, subjunctions such as även om ‘even if’ or adverbs such as dock ‘though’, (2) negated sentences, (3) sentences with strong deontic modals, i.e. måste ‘must’ and får inte ‘must not’, (4) claims for which reasons are given with overt causal markers such as därför att ‘because’. The conflicting viewpoints are identified within an ideological system articulated by Ball et al. (1990). The main finding in the study is that in the beginning of the period, dialogues are both frequent and articulate two distinct positions, although these viewpoints are not far from each other ideologically. By the end of the period, such dialogues are less frequent and it is hard to pinpoint the two positions and the difference between them.

  • 2007. Staffan Hellberg. Universitetsläraren (5), 32
Show all publications by Staffan Hellberg at Stockholm University

Last updated: May 27, 2019

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