Dr Ragnhild Ljosland, Cand Philol, FHEA

Lecturer in Nordic Studies

Institute for Northern Studies
Kiln Corner
KW15 1QX

e: Email
d: +44 (0)1856 569 302
Full research profile on the Research Database RD.jpg



Dr Ragnhild Ljosland obtained a PhD in Sociolinguistics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2008, where she also studied Scandinavian language and literature. She has been employed by the UHI Centre for Nordic Studies since 2009.

Research interests

Sociolinguistics, dialect studies, Orkney and Shetland studies, Scots, dialect literature, runes, Norwegian language.


Orkney Community Digital Heritage

This Digital Scotland-funded project invites community members to capture and share stories, place-names, information and memories about places and people in Orkney. We are using a smart-phone app called Edina Fieldtrip gb to collect information, which will be gathered on a publicly available, interactive website. Project dates: 25th May - 25th December 2015.

Sigurd the Dragonslayer Innovation Voucher Project, 2014. In collaboration with The Orcadian Ltd. The aim of this project is to produce a feasibility study and knowledge based product: "The Quest of Sigurd the Dragonslayer" activity and story book for children. The book is based on Old Norse literature.

Orkney and Shetland Dialect Corpus Project, scoping study, 2012. The AHRC Connected Communities funded Orkney and Shetland Dialect Corpus Project scoping study ran from February to October 2012. The main objective of the research was to undertake a scoping study and research review with a view to developing a larger corpus-based project on Orkney and Shetland dialect grammar.

The scoping study proposed to (1) write a research review, (2) establish contacts with other relevant corpus projects and researchers, (3) plan the development of a digital corpus of Orkney and Shetland dialect texts, (4) hold a workshop with potential future collaborators to discuss draft outcomes of the review, pointing up potential areas of developmental interest, and list possibilities for the next steps of action and (5) identify sources for funding the future digitalisation of the corpus. All these aims have been achieved.

Further information


Highlands and Islands Student Association Award, 2017: Best Research or Dissertation Supervisor


Academic Responsibilities

Dr Ljosland teaches the following modules on the MLitt level :

  • The Orkney and Shetland Tongues (module leader)
  • Early Scottish and Norse Literature
  • Orkney and Shetland Literature (module leader)
  • Runology and Old Norse (module leader)

 On BA(Hons) Culture and Heritage, single and joint Honours:

  • Languages on the Edge (module leader)
  • Runes: voices from the past (module leader)


Member of the Orkney College research committee.

External Memberships

  • Carnegie Trust Research Assessor (from November 2014)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Scottish Society for Northern Studies
  • Member of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study (SASS)
  • Member of the editorial board for North Atlantic World series (Brepols)
  • Board member for Scottish Language journal


Monographs and book chapters

Chrissie’s Bodle: Discovering Orkney’s Forgotten Writer Christina M. Costie. Ljosland, R. Apr-2011 Kirkwall: The Orcadian. 148 p.

Lingua franca, prestisjespråk og forestilt fellesskap: Om engelsk som akademisk språk i Norge.: Et kasusstudium i bred kontekst.  Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 396 p. 2008 ISBN 978-82-471-1102-4 December 2008

Book chapter: "Skoit du oot-by, Magnie: Scots Grammar Supported by Norn in the Dialects of the Northern Isles?" in Shetland and the Viking World: Papers from the Proceedings of the Seventeenth Viking Congress Lerwick. Turner, V., Owen, O. & Waugh, D. (eds.). Lerwick: Shetland Heritage Publications, p. 69-76 8 p. 2016

Book chapter: “Language planning in practice in the Norwegian higher education sector” in English in Nordic Universities. Ideologies and practices. Hultgren, A. K., Gregersen, F. & Thøgersen, . J. (eds.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, p. 53-82 29 p. (Studies in World Language Problems; vol. 5). October 2014

Book chapter: "Engelsk, selvfølgelig!: Språklig sosialisering blant doktorgradsstipendiater" In: Language in the knowledge society.: English - the new Latin of the elite?. Simonsen, D. F. (ed.). Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk Forlag, p. 137-146. 2004

Journal Papers, academic

The be-perfect in transitive constructions in Orkney and Shetland Scots: Influenced by Norn or not?
Ljosland, R. 2016. Before the storm. Selected Papers from the FRLSU Conference, Ayr 2016. . Millar, R. M. & Cruickshank, J. (eds.). Aberdeen: Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster, Vol. 5, p. 107-127

Policymaking as a multi-layered activity.: A case study from the higher education sector in Norway
Ljosland, R. 2015 In : Higher Education. 70, 4, p. 611-627 16 p.

Language planning confronted by everyday communication in the international university: the Norwegian case. Ljosland, R. 2014 In : Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 35, 4, p. 392-405 13 p.

Communicating Identity: The Modern Runes of Orkney. In : Studia Historyczne. 2013, 3, p. 412-430 18 p.

'I'll cross dat brig whin I come til him': grammatical gender in the Orkney and Shetland dialects of Scots. Ljosland, R. 2014. In: Scottish Language, Numbers 31 & 32, 2012 & 2013, pp. 29-58.

Language planning confronted by everyday communication in the international university: the Norwegian case. Ljosland, R. 19 Feb. 2014. In: Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, volume 35, Issue 4, 2014, pp. 392-405. DOI 10.1080/01434632.2013.874436. Full text can be downloaded from: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/GKiWJGzwYtaIcPEnz9GP/full

Old Norse Cultural Influence in the Work of Christina M. Costie. Ljosland, R. 7 Oct 2013 In : Journal of the North Atlantic. Special Volume 4/2013, p. 177-188 11 p.

The Establishment of the Scots Language in Orkney Ljosland, R.Nov-2012 In : New Orkney Antiquarian Journal.6, p. 65-80.16 p.

English as an Academic Lingua Franca: Language policies and multilingual practices in a Norwegian university Ljosland, R.2011 In: Journal of Pragmatics.43, 4, p. 991-1004.14 p.

Teaching Through English: Monolingual Policy Meets Multilingual Practice. Ljosland, R.Sep-2010 In: Hermes.45, p. 99-113.14 p.

English in Norwegian academia: a step towards diglossia? Ljosland, R.Nov-2007 In : World Englishes.26, 4, p. 395-410.16 p.

Å velge bort norsk: domenetap i nytt teoretisk lys
Ljosland, R.2004 In : Norsklæreren.28, 1, p. 15-21.7 p.

Other articles, reports and short books

Sigurd the Dragonslayer. Children's story and activity fun book. The Orcadian Ltd., 2014.

The Gyro: The Giantess who Lived a Thousand Years Ljosland, R.Feb-2012 In : Snæ.1, 1, p. 131-135.5 p.

Haldningar til engelsk.  In: Språknytt 2/2004.

Mimir’s Well Notes from Nordic Studies, monthly column in The Orcadian, from February 2010 ongoing. Downloadable from


Review Atina Nihtinen: Ambivalent Self-Understanding? Change, Language and Boundaries in the Shetland Islands (1970-present). Ljosland, R.2013 In : Northern Studies.44, p. 128-131.4 p.

Selected Talks & Conferences

Pictish Art Society Conference, 2014: Ragnhild Ljosland: "Writing in the North: Runic Inscription in Scotland." Caithness Horizons Museum, Thurso, 3-5- October 2014.

Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group: Ragnhild Ljosland: "The Problem of Finding Sources for the Study of Norn, the Scandinavian Language of Caithness and the Northern Isles." Cambridge University, 17/1/2014.

Viking Congress 2013, Shetland: Waugh, Doreen and Ragnhild Ljosland: “Skoit du oot by, Magnie: Mutual support between Norn and Scots in the dialects of the Northern Isles.” 3-10/8/2013.

Orkney International Science Festival 2017: John D. Mackay Memorial Lecture. "The Men in Maeshowe: Why did they break in?"

PhD Students

PhD students

Rebecca Ford: "Words and Waves: a dialogical approach to discourse, community, and marine renewables in Stromness, Orkney."

Director of Studies: Dr Ragnhild Ljosland, UHI

Supervisory team: Professor Donna Heddle (UHI), Dr Jo Vergunst (Aberdeen University).


Andrea Blendl: "Runic writing in the Viking diaspora: expression of a Norse identity?"

Director of Studies: Dr Ragnhild Ljosland, UHI

Supervisory team: Dr Alexandra Sanmark, UHI. Professor Stefan Brink, Aberdeen University. Gail Drinkall, Orkney Museum.


Suggested PhD topics

  • Sociolinguistics of the Northern Isles
  • the dialects of Orkney and Shetland
  • the linguistic history of Orkney and Shetland
  • literature of Orkney and Shetland