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tis 07 mars



Why Words Matter

An evening on language, power and democracy. This event will be conducted in Swedish.

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Why Words Matter
Why Words Matter

Time and place

07 mars 2023 18:00 – 21:00 CET

Finlandshuset, Snickarbacken 4, 111 39 Stockholm, Sverige


"The remarkable thing about words is that they mean something." Journalist Bo Strömstedt captured the power of words to influence. But words are not static. They change over time and can mean different things depending on the context and place in time. Shifts in meaning sometimes occur slowly and organically but often consciously and quickly. We see examples of Orwellian Newspeak in Putin's use of terms such as "freedom" and "Nazi" or Trump's rephrasing of "knowledge."

Historically, language policy has proven to be an effective tool for dividing and conquering. The German philologist Victor Klemperer described the rhetoric of the Third Reich as "tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed completely unnoticed, they do not seem to have any effect, but after a while, the poison seems to take effect." With the impact of social media, propaganda and disinformation have had immeasurable consequences.

Does society shape language? Or conversely, does society shape language? Who, or what, determines the meaning of words? How is language used as a tool of power? Can we talk about words as weapons?

Welcome to a conversation about the power of words, language policy, and disinformation. Participating are members of the editorial team for Svenska Begreppshistorier (Swedish Conceptual Histories), a project initiated by The Royal Swedish National Academy of Letters to contribute to a deeper understanding of the historical process in which our everyday and scientific concepts take shape, and Åsa Wikforss, the philosopher of language and member of The Swedish Academy.

The evening is a collaboration between Fri Tanke and WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award. 

The finalists for WIN WIN Award and WIN WIN Youth Award 2023 will be announced during the evening. 


Jonas Hansson, Senior Lecturer of History of Ideas and Science, editor of "Svenska Begreppshistorier"

Bo Lindberg, Professor of History of Ideas and Science, member of the Swedish Academy of Letters and contributing author to "Svenska Begreppshistorier"

Svante Nordin, Professor of History of Ideas and Science, member of the Swedish Academy of Letters, and contributing author to "Svenska Begreppshistorier"

Charlotta Seiler Brylla, Professor of German and contributing author to "Svenska Begreppshistorier"

Åsa Wikforss, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, member of the Swedish Academy and Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and author of the books Därför Demokrati (Therefore Democracy) and Alternativa Fakta (Alternative Facts)

Moderator: Christer Sturmark, CEO and Publisher of Fri Tanke

Date: Tuesday, March 7th 

Time: 6:00 PM, doors open at 5:30 PM 

Location: Sibeliussalen, Finlandshuset, Snickarbacken 4, Stockholm 

Price: 150 SEK 

For information regarding accessibility, please see the Finlandshusets website.

For questions, contact Martina Stenström, Fri Tanke. 


Phone: 073-503 12 27

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