Abstract: Benim – a new first-person pronoun in Swedish

The Turkish loanword benim has become a first-person (1.PERS) honorific pronoun in Stockholm’s multiethnic urban argot. The word has a self-aggrandizing indexicality, which can be intensified with a pronominal illeism (e.g., 1b).

Knowledge about the innovation is sparse. Kotsinas and Doggelito (2004) define benim as I/me (jag/mig). In an earlier analysis I identified benim as especially frequent in Swedish slang (Young 2018: 181), but a more thorough account of its pragmatic and social function is lacking.

Data come from a corpus of hip hop songs and YouTube vlogs from 2012 to 2019 (>320 000 words). Over 450 exemplars of benim were examined. Subject (1a, 1b) and object forms (2) are common. Possessive forms (3) are few.

[...] See full Abstract Nathan Young 1 Oct. 2019 (86 Kb)



Nathan Young is an adjunct lecturer at the Centre for Research on Bilingualism at Stockholm University. He completed his Ph.D. at Queen Mary, University of London, supervised by Dr. Devyani Sharma and Dr. Erez Levon. He has an M.A. in Linguistics from Stockholm University and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests are twofold: language change in urban Scandinavia amid unprecedented migration and class stratification (focus: Stockholm) and the comparative diachronic analysis of Nordic multiethnolects (focus: Danish and Swedish).