Foreign loans in Danish and Swedish hip hop



Young, N. (n.d.). ‘Benim’ – A new pronoun in Swedish. under review for Language Variation – European Perspectives VIII (Selected papers from the Tenth International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE 10).

LINK | Young, N. (2019). 'Benim' är vårt nya 'jag' ['Benim' is our new 'I']. Språktidningen 8/2019, 50–57.

LINK | abridged version reprinted in Fokus 48, 44–45.

LINK | 'Copycats, ja dom shouf' - Using hip hop to compare lexical replications in Danish and Swedish multiethnolects. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 24(2), 174-184.


In the contact scenarios of today's multiethnic Europe, complex factors interact with the 'feature pool' (Mufwene, 2001), rendering unique adoption‐rejection patterns in each community (Cheshire, Kerswill, Fox & Torgersen, 2011). These factors include social conditions, substrate languages, diachrony and stylistic domain. They challenge any researcher who, firstly, attempts to inventory linguistic features, and secondly, asks why certain features spread while others do not.

A comparison of Danish and Swedish multiethnolects might offer an opportunity to control some of these factors. Denmark and Sweden share a number of linguistic, political, and sociocultural commonalities. Moreso, many of their migrants hail from the same countries.

To control for stylistic domain, this analysis compares 'matter and pattern' replications in Danish and Swedish hip hop (aka MAT/PAT; Matras & Sakel, 2007) because hip hop is the broadest media platform for urban multiethnolect in Scandinavia today. This study examines 40 'hit' songs from 2012 to 2017 (23 Swedish; 17 Danish). All artists are of migrant heritage, and 'hits' are defined as >100,000 YouTube views per year.

A MAT example is amus (Somali, shut up), and a PAT example is låt hatarna hata (English, let the haters hate). Results show that Swedish songs have nearly twice the number of MAT replications than Danish (Swedish: 371 types, 782 tokens, corpus size 9207; Danish: 199/461/9742). The Swedish data also has 33% more PAT replications than Danish (Swedish: 40/64/9207; Danish: 29/60/9742). 

Plots of Unique Matter Lemmas per Swedish Artist followed by Danish Artists | CLICK FOR SLIDES


Media clips are provided in accordance with fair use for research purposes. They are not to be redistributed.

AMRO (2013). Ren Hygge [Pure ’Hygge’]. AMRO. Copenhaniacs Studios. Retrieved from 

Cheshire, J., Kerswill, P., Fox, S., & Torgersen, E. (2011). Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 15(2), 151‐196.

Jireel (2017). Tagga [Leave]. NIVY, division of Universal Music Sweden AB. Retrieved from

Izzyy (2016). Ram den Mil [Hit that Milly]. MTMG. Retrieved from

J-Mix (2016). Holy Moly. Cannibal Records Denmark. Retrieved from 

Linda Pira (2014). Låt dom hata [Let them hate]. Redline Recordings, Universal Music Sweden AB.

Matras, Y. & Sakel, J. (2007). Investigating the mechanisms of pattern replication in language convergence. Studies in Language. International Journal sponsored by the Foundation 'Foundations of Language', 31(4), 829‐865.

Mufwene, S. S. (2001). The ecology of language evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

© 2019 by Nathan Young.