Court records as a source for early modern (language) history: Examples from Finland and Sweden, ca 1950–2020
Court records and the history of the early modern period go hand in hand. Court records are crucial for our knowledge of the period and are the most important set of data for several fields of scholarship. In this article we study how Scandinavian historians and language historians have used court records in their research. In this multidisciplinary synthesis of such historical and historical linguistic research in Finland and Sweden, the focus is research mainly in Finnish and Swedish but also in English, published between 1950 and 2020, but weighted towards the twenty-first century. We show that historians have often been interested in source criticism whereas language historians concentrate on the question of linguistic variation and change. We identify three major themes that are fruitful for multidisciplinary collaborations between historians and linguists who rely on court records as a source: the records (their accuracy and reliability), the discource levels (the records’ textual structures and patterns), and the scribes (the common denominator). The study emphasises the multidisciplinary dimensions of court record research; the researcher should preferably be alert to the theoretical and analytical discussions in both disciplines and draw on one another’s expertise. The article is an outcome of ”City scribes in the kingdom of Sweden in the early modern period (1614–1714): Their profession, agency and use of language”, a multidisciplinary research project at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, financed by the Kone Foundation for the period 2020–2024.