Tove Rosendal


Department of Languages and
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41256 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Tove Rosendal

Researcher, docent

  • Office hour: by appointment


I defended my thesis “Linguistic Landshapes. A comparison of official and non-official language management in Rwanda and Uganda, focusing on the position of African languages” in June 2010. This is a macro-sociolinguistic work where I compare and analyze language policy and language use in Rwanda and Uganda within formal domains. The work included model and method development.

Before starting my doctoral studies in 2005 at the then Department of Oriental and African Languages at the University of Gothenburg, I worked as a teacher and with non-formal adult education - in Sweden and also in African countries.


Ongoing project 2022- 2024: Reading the Signs: Renaming and transformative processes in urban Rwanda. This 3-year project is financed by the Swedish Research Council (VR) and is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jean de Dieu Amini Ngabonziza, University of Kigali, Rwanda.

The project combines the research fields linguistic landscape and onomastics with research for development.

More about the project: Reading the Signs: Renaming and transformative processes in urban Rwanda

Since spring 2018, I have been working on the project “Signs of change – Social Identity and Power Reflected in the Linguistic Landscape of Rwanda”, funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. This is a three-year project. The aim of this project is to provide insights into how language, place and people interact in the linguistic landscape (LL) in Rwanda, and to understand how power relationships and identity are constructed and transformed in this public space. In Africa, language policy plays an important role and influences the LL. Rwanda has a quadrilingual language policy which favours English, especially after 2008, despite the fact that English has no colonial historical background in the country. In Rwanda, there are discrepancies in access to European, high-status languages and consequently differences from the perspective of power.

More about the project: Signs of change – Social Identity and Power Reflected in the Linguistic Landscape of Rwanda

I am also involved in the project “The role of language in segregation and gentrification processes: linguistic landscapes in Gothenburg, Sweden” along with colleagues at the Department and beyond. A pilot project financed by stiftelsen Anna Ahrenbergs fond (the Anna Ahrenberg Foundation) paved the way for a three-year Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) project that began in January 2019. In brief, this project deals with social upward mobility and gentrification processes with consequent immigrations and emigrations of different population categories and how these are reflected in and influence how language is used.

More about the project: The role of language in segregation and gentrification processes: linguistic landscapes in Gothenburg, Sweden

Between 2014 and 2018, I worked on the project “Linguistic Marginalization - Understanding the Process and Effects on Development Capacities” which was a 3.5 year project funded by the Swedish Research Council (U-Forsk). The project was a socio-linguistic study linking the use of language with development issues. The project focused on code switching, i.e., switching between Ngoni and Swahili in the Ruvuma region in south-west Tanzania. Swahili, which is used in formal contexts and which, since independence, has been promoted as a language of communication across ethnic and linguistic boundaries, has a growing place in Tanzanian society, even in rural communities and within the family. It is estimated that approximately 95 per cent of the adult population speak Swahili.

More about the project: Linguistic Marginalization - Understanding the Process and Effects on Development Capacities

In 2012–2014, as a post-doc I had a project within the TASENE programme, which was funded by COSTECH, SIDA and NWO (the Netherlands’ Organization for Scientific Research)/WOTRO Science for Global Development. The project entitled Ngoni – Language, culture and sociolinguistic situation was a project in three parts conducted in Tanzania in collaboration with Dr Gastor Mapunda, University of Dar es Salaam. The project studied the minority language Ngoni spoken in the Ruvuma region in southern Tanzania. It included a socio-linguistic survey/interview study of 800 school children in grade 1 and grades 5–7 in which their parents’ linguistic background, the children’s knowledge of Ngoni, their attitudes to Ngoni, and how the language was used in the local community were studied. The other two parts of the project involved documenting and analysing spoken Ngoni using digital equipment. Recordings with informants in different age groups were made. The linguistic analysis focused particularly on the extent to which borrowed words from Swahili and English were used, how these had been integrated into Ngoni and last but not least, if code switching (i.e., switching between Ngoni and another language) was occurring. Extensive code switching may indicate that a language is becoming impoverished and in the longer term may no longer be transferred from one generation to the next, which also indicates that a language may be under threat and even starting to disappearing.

I have also conducted research funded by the Birgit och Gad Rausings Stiftelse för Vetenskaplig Forskning (Birgit and Gad Rausing Foundation for Scientific Research) into the status and usage of the Cushitic language Somali in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, i.e., the countries bordering Somalia, where Somali is spoken in some regions.

By studying the relationship between languages that are permitted to be used and which are de facto used in various functions in multilingual societies, power relationships are revealed. The language that is given official recognition and the status of the teaching language for example, and thus is the language spoken by a country’s elite, is important for both democracy and socio-economic development.


I have earlier been responsible for the net-based course AF1100, Language and Society in Africa and lectured within the new Internationella språkprogrammet. Earlier, I have even taught the net courses SO1101, Somali Society and Culture and SO1201, Language and Society. Together with Harbi Abdillahi Amir I have developed contract education about Somali culture (courses and lectures). For several years I also taught part of the course Afrikastudier at Global studies, University of Gothenburg.