Published January 10, 2024 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

The Stenographic Bias: Shaping Formulaic Language in the Swedish Parliament 1920–2020

  • 1. ROR icon Malmö University
  • 2. ROR icon Umeå University


What a politician says in the parliament is not always what gets printed. In turning spoken words into printed records, the language changes, often towards formalization. The stenographers play a key role in this linguistic transformation. Their job is to align oral speeches with linguistic norms and parliamentary nomenclature. In this context, the formulaic trumps the personal. In our paper, we target these formulaic transformations, which we call the stenographic bias. Our analytical work is guided by the following research questions: In what ways are the printed records shaped by the stenographic bias? And what mechanisms are part of shaping this bias?

The paper is empirically based on stenographic guidelines defining language norms and procedural rules, primarily from the 1980s and 2020s, as well as supplemented parliamentary material. To study the formulaic language over time and how language norms and rules affected the printed debate records on the aggregated level, we make use of a recent annotated dataset of Swedish parliamentary speeches from 1920 to 2020. By combining close reading and distant reading we aim to identify and discuss cases and phrases that shed light on the way stenographic norms and procedures have influenced parliamentarians’ speeches as they are recorded in the protocols.



The stenographic bias_ Shaping formulaic language in the Swedish Parliament 1920–2020.pdf

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