David Karlander

David Karlander studies language and communication. His research covers topics in intellectual history, sociolinguistics, semiology and the philosophy of language. He currently investigates visions of auxiliary languages in political thought, mainly during the first half of the 20th century. He has previously published on minority language politics, graffiti, the history of Scandinavian dialectology, and the idea of deficit in theories of bilingualism.​

At the Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Karlander will be studying visions of unity in linguistic thought. His project takes interest in how and why ideas of unity – of order, systematicity and coherence – appear to precipitate in seemingly antagonistic conceptualizations of language and communication. Karlander will engage mainly with the intellectual history of socially invested language studies (e.g. sociolinguistics, applied linguistics), with the concept of critique in linguistics, and with the use of auxiliary languages for political ends. In addition to publishing on these topics, he will also finalize a study on the pursuit of semiotic unity under anti-graffiti regimes.

Karlander holds degrees from Uppsala University (BA, MA) and Stockholm University (PhD).

Email: dakar@hku.hk


  1. Karlander, D. 2019. A semiotics of nonexistence: Erasure and erased writing under anti-graffiti regimes. Linguistic Landscapes 00(0), 000–000.
  2. Karlander, D. 2019. [Review of Identity and Dialect Performance, by R. Bassiouney. (Ed.)]. Svenska landsmål och svenskt folkliv, 000–000.
  3. Salö, L., Karlander, D. Semilingualism: The life and afterlife of a sociolinguistic idea. Working Papers in Urban Language & Literacies 247.
  4. Karlander, D. When political institutions use sociolinguistic concepts. Items, https://items.ssrc.org/when-political-institutions-use-sociolinguistic-concepts/
  5. Karlander, D. 2018. The linguistic prerequisites for cultural analysis: Lars Levander’s reocentric ethnographies of Swedish peasant life and language. Signs and Society 6(3), 504–530.
  6. Karlander, D. 2018. Mobile semiosis and mutable metro spaces. In Peck, A., Williams, Q., Stroud, C. (Eds.) Making sense of people, place and linguistic landscapes. London: Bloomsbury.
Submitted/under review/pending final confirmation
  1. Karlander, D. Artificial language and visions of hope.
  2. Ganuza, N., Karlander, D, Salö, L. A weave of symbolic violence: Dominance and complicity in sociolinguistic research on multilingualism
  3. Salö, L., Karlander, D. accepted. The travels of semilingualism: Itineraries of ire, impact, and infamy. In Q. Williams, A. Deumert, T. Milani (Eds.) Multilingualism and Linguistic Citizenship: Education, Narrative and Episteme. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Conferences, Talks, etc. 

Upcoming (confirmed)
  1. Ideologies, Attitudes and Power in Language Contact Settings. Stockholm University, 16–17 May
  2. University of Copenhagen (U of Copenhagen), 27–29 May
  3. Invited panellist. University of Gothenburg, 28 May
  4. International Pragmatics Association. Hong Kong (Poly U), 9–14 July
Upcoming (reply pending)
  1. The various guises of translanguaging. Ghent University, 1 July


  1. HKU Colloquium on Sociolinguistics and the Humanities. University of Hong Kong.

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