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Helene Kammensjö


Department of Languages &
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41255 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Helene Kammensjö


I have a long and diverse background in the field of Arabic language as a student, teacher and researcher. 2006-2017 I also worked in the area of municipal adult education as an education coordinator for the City of Gothenburg’s department for labour market issues and adult education. My assignments with the City have consisted of for example review and follow-up work and educational development. A long time ago I also taught adults Swedish as a second language and worked as a volunteer aid worker (my most recent assignment was in northern Sudan 1998-2002).


Teaching and aspects thereof have been a recurring and natural theme throughout my life. My Bachelor’s studies consisted of, besides Arabic, courses in Swedish as a second language (or Swedish for immigrants as it was called back then). Accordingly, I have for some periods of time taught both Swedish as a second language and Arabic. From 1993 to 1998, I was in charge of the Bachelor’s programme in Arabic. Since 2013 I teach Arabic at the intermediate and in-depth levels (first cycle) on a half-time basis.

Doctoral thesis

In autumn 2004, I finished my PhD after presenting a doctoral thesis titled Discourse Connectives in Arabic Lecturing Monologue (Kammensjö 2005). It deals with connectives and text cohesion in the type of spoken Arabic that is generally referred to as Educated Spoken Arabic (ESA) and that is common in academic teaching. The material consisted of audio-recorded and transcribed lectures in geography and history from four universities in the Arabic world. ESA is characterised by a great deal of variation as the language continuously alternates between the norms for written and spoken language. The differences between the two varieties are quite significant in the Arabic countries and are commonly used as a prime example of so-called diglossia, where two, often closely related, varieties co-exist in a society with clear differences in function and status. Thus, the thesis bridges the fields of text linguistics and sociolinguistics.


From 2007 to 2012, I participated as an Arabist in two consecutive research projects concerning Semitic languages. The projects were supported by the Swedish Research Council and led by Bo Isaksson, professor of Semitic languages at the Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University. The purpose of the research has been to create adequate descriptions of circumstantial clauses and in extension hypotactic clause linking in different Semitic varieties such as Hebrew, classic and modern Arabic, Arabic dialect in the first project, with the addition of South Arabian, Ethiopian languages and Akkadian in the second. The second project included, in addition to four Swedish researchers with different areas of specialisations, three researchers from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I contributed to the projects with studies of two different Arabic corpora, one consisting of modern Arabic literary prose and the other of published texts in Egyptian dialect. The projects have resulted in two publications published by the Harrassowitz Publishing House in Germany (see Publications).

Current areas of interest


My plan for the future is to be able to compile and develop knowledge in the area of Arabic sociolinguistics, not least as Arabic is the clearly dominating non-Nordic language among immigrants in Sweden. I’m currently looking for an opportunity to work with continuing education and authoring in the field, targeting a mixed group of students in Arabic and professionals in relevant sectors of society, such as first and second language education, refugee reception and employment and social services. Here are some questions I’m interested in:

  • Which Arabic discourses can be found in which social practices in Sweden?
  • Which strategies do native tongue teachers in Sweden use to handle linguistic variation and diglossia?
  • How do second-generation Arabic-speaking immigrants communicate with same-age peers in their home countries?