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  1. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Hello everyone.
    I've been trying to figure out the current situation of the Norwegian language.
    From my readings I deduce that there are 4 types of Norwegian: Riksmål (Literally "National Talk" or Dano-Norwegian), Bokmål (Literally "book talk", a Norwegianized form of the first which is one of the official languages, but only written not spoken, Nynorsk (a pure form of Norwegian that is also official and this time written phonetically), Høgnorsk (Literally "High Norwegian", a very conservative and mainly rural form of Nyorsk).

    Each and every one of the aforementioned are considered to be Norwegian in their own right. The two official forms can be used interchangeably in writings and everyone must learn them. Communities in Norway can declare if they wish to use one or the other or both. There is no official way to pronounce Norwegian and any pronunciation of any version is fine though the upper class Oslo accent (close to a spoken Bokmål) is of high esteem and the version taught to foreigners as Norwegian.

    Norwegian and Danish developed from two different variants of Old Norse (Western and Eastern). Swedish also came from Eastern, Icelandic from Western. I deduce that from this map. During the 300 year union between Norway and Denmark, Danish was the official language and took root in urban areas of Norway. Hence, the Dano-Norwegian and Book talk.

    I'm interested in knowing how all these variants play out in daily life in Norway. Could we say that Norwegian is actually a series of dialects in diglossia between Danish on the high end and Nyorsk (the original East Norse) at the lower end? Perhaps not, since there doesn't seem to be any force being exerted on any variant and they are considered all-inclusive in "Norwegian". Apparently there was a movement in the middle of the nineteenth century to unify the language (Samnorsk - Common Norsk) which met lots of opposition and since then
    Bokmål has become closer to Riksmål, and Nyorsk has also diverged. Here is a map showing which communities have chosen which variant as official. Nyorsk is rural and Bokmål is urban. 85% of the population write in Bokmål. How do Norwegians view this linguistic situation? Is Danish considered foreign or part of Norwegian? Is Dano-Norwegian basically Danish with a Norwegian accent?

    It would be great if a Norwegian (and/or a Dane) could comment on this. Any comments and clarifications are appreciated.
     
  2. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Høgnorsk sees marginal use, and riksmål is not widespread. Moderate nynorsk is used by less than 15% of the population, and moderate bokmål by approximately 80%.
    Neither høgnorsk nor riksmål are official form or taught in school, and are often grouped with nynorsk and bokmål respectively as ‘old-style nynorsk’ and ‘conservative bokmål’.

    You refer to høgnorsk as ‘rural’, but if anything it is an intellectual form used by enthusiasts. It is also the only standard that is being used as a spoken language based on a written norm.

    Nynorsk, the brain-child of the self-taught genius Ivar Aasen, was an attempt to “purify” Norwegian, and get rid of the Danish and German influences. Aasen started his work by collecting dialect samples in the Western parts of the country, and in the south and central inland. After years of systematic research, he puzzled together and published a grammar in 1848 and a dictionary in 1850. Aasen wanted to create a more genuine written standard, based on dialects as a continuation of the now lost medieval Norwegian. He recognized that no single dialect had all the perfect forms, and that each dialect preserved different aspects and parts of the language. Therefore, through such a systematic approach, one would be able to find a unifying expression for all Norwegian dialects. Aasen called this the fundamental dialect.

    The problem, as it turned out, was that Aasen was quite selective when it came to what dialects he wanted to include. For instance, he had a penchant for the more archaic sounding ones, and flat out rejected the dialects of the towns and budding cities in Norway (he found them corrupted). This combined with the industrialization and urbanization in Norway in the 20th Century, marginalized nynorsk, and its use dropped from a peak of 38% in the 1930s to about 13% today.

    Around 600,000 Norwegian use nynorsk as their written standard, but like bokmål, it is rarely used as a spoken form. Most Norwegian – bokmål or nynorsk users – speak their own dialect.

    Bokmål is the dominant form – largely because it is the more flexible form, and because it better reflects the dialects of the population centers in the country. It has also seen a remarkable degree of development, from the old-style Danish officialese used in the constitution of 1814, to modern bokmål with 3-gender system, post-positioned possessives and Western Norwegian diphthons.

    Bokmål is in a way the antithesis of nynorsk. Whereas nynorsk is a standard based on (selected) dialects, and has since moved towards bokmål by shedding many of its old and quaint forms, bokmål started out as an elaborate and un-Norwegian language that has since moved radically towards the dialects.
     
  3. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    That's a very big topic and I am no expert on this, but I'll try to give some comments.

    Written Norwegian
    There are 2 officially recognized forms of written Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål is roughly norwegianized Danish. I suppose you also could say that it is based to a large extent on the dialect spoken in and around the capital Oslo. Nynorsk on the other hand is based on a blend of different dialects, although the general opinion is that it's more "western norwegian" than anything else. Both of them contain a lot of freedom which means that the same word can be spelled in many different ways. You just choose the one you prefer. As for Riksmål and Høgnorsk, they are not officially recognized and I think that a conservative Bokmål would be very close (if not identical) to Riksmål. In my opinion both Riksmål and Høgnorsk are for people who have a special interest in them.

    Spoken Norwegian
    There is no officially recognized form of spoken Norwegian (to the frustration for foreigners trying to learn it), but newsreaders on tv and in radio have to change their speech so that they speak as close to one of the official written norms as possible (that demand seems to be softening up a little these days). Dialects enjoy a higher prestige than they do in most other countries but certain dialects and dialect features have a low status. Generally the use of dialects is encouraged and seen as something positive. However, we do have our own form of purism because switching dialects is frowned upon, i.e. dialects should be kept pure. We even have a word to describe when people contaminate their native dialect with "foreign" features (knote).

    Politics
    The major political parties do not agree when it comes to the status of Nynorsk. Nynorsk is used by only 15% of the population but still every pupil at school is forced to learn it so some political parties want to make it optional or to just get rid of the whole thing. (Interestingly, the division between the political parties in this question follows historical lines so on a political level it seems to me that the question has a religious character.) Everyone is free to choose the written language they want but government officials have to reply emails and letters in the same language the received email or letter was in.

    School
    Both Bokmål and Nynorsk are taught in school but it's up to the pupil (or his/her parents) to decide which language is to be the main focus. Pupils and students (especially from the capital area but others too of course) often complain about Nynorsk because they find it difficult. These complaints in combination with generally bad results in other subjects made some communities try out optional Nynorsk.
     
  4. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Thanks to both of you for your thoughtful explanations. I really appreciate it! Between you, I think there is a consensus that Bokmål is by far the most widely used language in Norway despite it developing from Danish. If Nyorsk has fallen to 13-15%, has become politicized and people wish to opt out of learning it, it's a good indication that Bokmål has won, especially since Norwegian NYC says it is open to variation. So, it's really just the spoken language that has a lot of fluctuation in accent, and as you say there are quite substantial dialectal differences too. So, would I be right to assume that spoken Bokmål is interintelligible with Danish?
     
  5. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    There is not really a need for a consensus between me and NorwegianNYC with respect to this. It's an indisputable fact that Bokmål is more widely used, the staticstics are quite clear.
    The language situation in Norway has always been politicized so it's not a recent development. Also, I am not sure if Bokmål has won (if you can talk about this in terms of a battle.) I read about some recent studies on Bokmål/Nynorsk from the University of Trondheim and they concluded that students using Nynorsk performed better in both varieties of Norwegian than students using Bokmål.
    Is spoken Bokmål interintelligible with Danish? All mainland Scandinvian are interintelligible but this interintelligibility is decreasing. Norwegians understand the most while the Danes understand the least.
     
  6. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Out of curiosity, what's the dialect situation like in traditionally Sami-speaking areas like Finnmark, Troms[FONT=arial, sans-serif],[/FONT] etc.? Do these regions each have their own, traditional Norwegian dialect, or is the Norwegian spoken there closer to standard Bokmål?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
  7. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    There are differences between regions in Troms and Finnmark, but as a generalization you could say that the inner parts of Finnmark (which are Sami dominated) have a dialect which is close to Bokmål. That's probably because Norwegian was forced on them in school.
     
  8. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Hi Myslenka. Thanks again. If Nynorsk is 100% phonetic and corresponds exactly to the way certain people speak, it seems logical the children who study in this version would learn quicker than if they had to assimilate something more "bookish". It's also coherent that Norwegians understand Danish much more than the Danish do Norwegian. In a sense through Bokmål they have mastered Danish. Danes may not have heard many of the spoken Norwegian dialects though.

    I also noticed on the map I gave before that Bokmål, besides dominance in the cities and south, has a solid footing in the far north in an area I had assumed would have had less Danish influence. But the explanation that these were former Sami-speakers who learned Norwegian first at school makes sense. If your first contact with Norwegian is through Bokmål in a serious environment that's what will end up staying. I didn't know Sami had been so widespread in Norway.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
  9. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    In the study I read about, the students' dialect background did not have an effect. A student of Nynorsk with a dialect from Oslo would generally perfom better in Nynorsk and Bokmål than his/her peer next door who has Bokmål as main language.
    I am sure a Danish person would have no problem reading Bokmål, but I think the interintelligibility tests are mostly based on understanding spoken language. The explanation for Norwegians performing better than their Swedish and Danish cousins has been that Norwegians have been more exposed to Danish and Swedish on tv. The interintelligibility is decreasing because Scandinavians watch less tv from the other Scandinavian countries.
    My guess is that the explanation for this lies in the union with Denmark. At that time the Church was responsible for education and all the priests were educated in Copenhaguen.
     
  10. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Nynorsk is not more phonetic than bokmål. Nynorsk is an artificial language constructed as a common denominator of a great many dialects from the inland and the West Coast. No one, unless trained to do so, speak nynorsk. In fact, one of the slogans of the nynorsk movement is "Tal dialekt - skriv nynorsk" (Speak dialect - write nynorsk), and nynorsk users til this day encourage the use of the standard because "it is closer to how people (in the West, mainly) speak".

    Nynorsk was for many years hampered by an inherent conservatism. This would not have been a problem had nynorsk been firmly entrenched in the population centers of Norway - which it was not! It was predominantly a rural standard, and when the urbanization accelerated in the 1950s and 60s, nynorsk was not ready for the transformation of the society. This happened for two reasons - (1) Ivar Aasen was unwilling to include Eastern dialects and city dialects in nynorsk, and (2) people were no longer looking for their national roots in their language the way they had done 50-60 years before.

    On the other hand, bokmål made rapid strides to de-Danify itself, and largely succeeded since is was less bound by a linguistic standard. Bokmål reintroduced the three-gender system, accepted post-positioned possessives, embraced diphthongs (monophthongs is an Eastern dialect trait) and more phonetic spelling, and even changed the numeral system from one+tens to tens+ones. All of this was already a part of nynorsk, but nynorsk was much less willing to make concessions the other way. Bokmål was in that sense a more 'democratic' language, since it adopted popular form, whereas nynorsk often resisted citing its 'purist' philosophy.

    It is unclear why nynorsk did not make more inroads in the North. On explanation might be that the Northern counties were hampered by poor communication, and what ever little communication reached the towns and trading posts came from the cities further south, such as Bergen (traditionally) and Trondheim. Then again - keep in mind that Aasen eschewed the city dialects in favor of the 'purer' rural dialects, with the consequence that the towns and cities of the south effectively became bokmål bulwarks, despite often being surrounded by a nynorsk-using hinterland.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
  11. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    I have been trying to do that for years. This thread has gone a long way to enlightening me. One point I would like to have clarified is: What language did Ibsen write in? I have seen it described as "Classical Dano-Norwegian". Would that be something like riksmål? Does his language present any sort of difficulty for Norwegians today? What language would Ibsen have spoken at home?
     
  12. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Hello everyone. Rereading my original post I realized I made two mistakes which I wanted to clarify for the sake of accuracy. They are in bold above.
     
  13. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Did they draw any conclusions in this study of why students learn better in Nynorsk?
    From what I have read Riksmål is actually Dano-Norwegian, and at that time most educated people could speak Danish. I read on omniglot that education was exclusively in Danish until the 1830's. Given Ibsen's age and time period he may well have spoken (a lot of) Danish at home. On the same link I give there is a reading that compares Nynorsk and Bokmål. They seem pretty different to me.

    Another link to compare Bokmål and Danish. There are some differences but they seem to be overall quite similar.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
  14. Havfruen Senior Member

    USA
    English - American
    I have learned Danish. When I read Ibsen, the language was indistinguishable from nineteenth century Danish. I believe the written standard at that time was common to both Denmark and Norway.

    As far as contemporary language, as someone with a reasonable command of Danish it is not difficult to read Norwegian bokmål. And the reverse should also true be. I would say it's akin to an American reading a text by an Australian, or a Parisian reading Quebecois French. On the other hand, based on knowing Danish I find nynorsk challenging to read but not impossible. The non-standardized spelling is problematic for me.

    However, as already discussed Danes and Norwegians have greater difficulty understanding each other's spoken language. It is said that spoken Norwegian is generally closer to Swedish, while written Norwegian (bokmål) is of course closer to Danish.
     
  15. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Ibsen wrote in a form of Norwegian but with heavy traces of Danish (the union with Denmark was over after all). His language would be understood by Norwegians today, but I would certainly describe it as very old-fashioned. I don’t know what language he spoke at home, but my guess is that he spoke Norwegian.


    I don’t know the details but I think it was a small study. Obviously, more studies are needed to say more about this but here’s a plausible explanation: Users of Bokmål are only exposed to Bokmål whereas users of Nynorsk are exposed to both Nynorsk and Bokmål due to the dominance of Bokmål. This double exposure causes second-language effects.

    There are differences of course, but in the omniglot you gave link the differences seem to be more related to style than anything else. A very formal Bokmål style tends to use a lot of nouns and abstractions whereas Nynorsk tends to use more concrete terms.

    Bokmål: ......og bør handle mot hverandre i brorskapets ånd. - and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    Nynorsk: .....og skal leve med kvarandre som brør. – and shall live together as brothers.
     
  16. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    This is true in my experience. I've seen Norwegian and Swedish young people talking among them, as if they were speaking the same language!

    As personal opinion, I think that if bokmål is more widespread than nynorsk, it's quite natural that speakers of nynorsk are more likely to know a lot of bokmål, while speakers of bokmål are less likely to know about nynorsk.
     
  17. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Just to clear up a very common misunderstanding (even among Norwegians). Bokmål and Nynorsk are written standards only, we don't speak Bokmål or Nynorsk. We speak dialects which may resemble Bokmål and/or Nynorsk to various extents and on different levels. It is all considered Norwegian nonetheless. As for the aforementioned study, there is no surprise that users of Nynorsk were better in Bokmål than users of Bokmål were in Nynorsk due to different degrees of exposure. The peculiar thing was that users of Nynorsk were even better in Bokmål than users of Bokmål.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  18. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    Thanks myšlenka. I'm sorry I didn't get right the meaning of that result. Your last sentence is quite shocking.
     
  19. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Famously, Danes say that Norwegian is Danish spoken by Swedes, and there is some logic to that. Danish and Norwegian are closer in terms of spelling, but phonetically, Swedish and Norwegian are much more akin. Swedish is on the other hand more conservative, since it adopted fewer words from (especially) Low German in the Middle ages, a time when Norwegian and Danish imported wholesale, to the point almost 40% of the current vocabulary is from Low German/German/Dutch.

    A whole different question is to what extent Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are versions of the same language. Most linguists tend to treat them as 'Scandinavian', but it all boils down to how one defines a language. The versions of English spoken by native speakers from Queensland, Australia; Nairobi, Kenya; Perth, Scotland; and Birmingham, Alabama are more different than the dialects and languages in Scandinavia. However, we still refer to it as English.

    Historically, the Norse language split into two fairly similar, albeit distinct dialect groups around 1200, called East Norse and West Norse. Some will argue there were three groups: East, West and South Norse. At least is seems that South Norse is a sub-group of East Norse. The problem arises when you start looking at the map. East Norse proper encompassed what is today Central Sweden and Eastern and Central Norway. South Norse is where we today find Southern Sweden (Scania) and Denmark, although the Danish dialects of Northern Jutland and the language of Gotland in the Baltic Sea is probable closer to West Norse. West Norse on the other hand, went on to become Western and Southern (and somewhat Northern) Norwegian, Faroese and Icelandic.

    Danish (incl. Scanian) was the first to emerge as a separate language (around 1400). Icelandic and Faroese around the same time. Eastern/Central Norwegian and Swedish did not really separate for another 200 years, and by that time, Western Norwegian had also emerged, but as a language radically altered from when it was in cahoots with Icelandic and Faroese. Because of this historical development, Eastern Norwegian is closer to Western/Central Swedish than to Western Norwegian. Central Norwegian (Trøndelag) is also more closely related to Northern Swedish (Jemtland) than to the coastal dialects of Norway.

    If the Union of Kalmar was still in effect today, it would be difficult to imagine Norwegian, Swedish and Danish as separate languages.
     
  20. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Myslenka - that might have something to do with learning a language vs taking it for granted. Many with e.g. English as a second language have a higher degree of mastering than native speakers.
     
  21. bicontinental Senior Member

    U.S.A.
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    I would agree that Bokmål and written Danish are quite close, to the point where occasional short sentences may be identical. In my opinion, Bokmål is more phonetic than written Danish, which has spelling rules that at times defy all common sense, including the frequent use of silent letters. Differences in syntax, grammar and spelling are minor between the two languages and shouldn’t create any significant problems. Points of potential confusion are language specific words, metaphors and idioms, as well as different uses of similar or identical words (“false friends”). Most of these potential obstacles to mutual comprehension can be figured out in the proper context, in my experience.


    Comprehension of the spoken language is a completely different matter, as others have said. I’ve heard some Norwegians speak in dialects that seem closer to standard Danish (rigsdansk) than some Danish dialects... with distinct enunciation of words combined with crisp and clean sounding vowels. Then again, I’ve had conversations with Norwegians where I’ve been tempted to ask for a transcript of the conversation.
    Best,
    Bic.
     
  22. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Thanks for your interesting comment, Bic. And thanks to the others for making this such an informative thread.
    Do you think that the Norwegians you understand perfectly are actually speakers of Dano-Norwegian (Riksmål)? Perhaps those you don't are from the West Country? People have said that Norwegian has no official spoken form and people can speak the way the want. Does Danish have a spoken standard?

    I'm starting to get a clearer picture of the linguistic situation. I'll try to summarize what I've understood.
    1) Written language. Bokmål and standard Rigsdansk develop from the same source and is a result of the 300 union between the two countries when Danish was official. Bokmål has simplified a bit probably getting rid of all the spelling rules and silent consonants that defy common sense and has also become more flexible to incorporate authentic Norwegian forms. They are both distinct from Swedish because of the huge number of foreign words (mainly German and Dutch) that were taken into Bokmål/Rigsdansk/Riksmål over these centuries. Nynorsk, however, is a pure compendium of an idealized phonetically-based Western Norwegian dialect that probably had less Danish influence due to it being rural and possibly could have more of the original West Norse missing in Bokmål.
    2) Spoken language. Both Norwegian and Danish have many dialects and some of them approach one another more than others even to the extent that this type of Norwegian and Dane can understand one another better than even strong dialect forms of their own language. So there is kind of like a dialectal continuum. Norwegians can understand both Danish and Swedish because written Bokmål is pretty much reformed Danish but many spoken Norwegian dialects, in general, share phonetic similarities with Swedish that seem to be lacking in Danish.
    3) Nynorsk users who then study Bokmål are the highest achievers in school because they learn two different versions of written Norwegian which gives them a solid base in the Norwegian language seen as a whole.
     
  23. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    If you by mastering mean that the students know spelling conventions and the grammar rules, then yes, that wouldn't surprise me at all. The study did mention that Nynorsk users made less mistakes when writing. However, it also included word recognition (both real and fake words) and reading speed and I'm not sure that fits into the picture.
     
  24. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    I wouldn’t use the word simplify. Norwegian also has spelling rules and silent consonants. Things were changed to make more sense from a Norwegian perspective.

    All students (with some exceptions) learn two different versions of written Norwegian.
     
  25. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Neither do I! ;-) I am just looking for an explanation.
     
  26. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    It is actually a little more complicated than that. 500 years ago, Danish and Norwegian were very different from they are now, but closer to each other. Danish would probably be very similar to Norwegian - to the point one will have to be trained in the dialectal idiosyncrasies of the time in order to spot the difference. Yes, the central administration of the twin-realms was in Copenhagen. So was the university and printing presses. However, even 300 years ago, when the differences had grown, they were still far more similar than they are today, and although some of the vocabulary must have sounded odd to Norwegians, it was ‘close enough’. I doubt Norwegians in e.g. 1680 had a feeling they were reading Danish.

    The written standard was probably based on some educated, upper-class Copenhagen accent, and must have been as ‘foreign’ to common people in Jutland and Lolland as it was to Norwegians. No doubt would Norwegians read it with a different “lilt” than the Danes, but the bulk of the vocabulary was from a common origin, and the loanwords from Low German would be the same.

    Modern Danish pronunciation, which has made Danish so hard to understand, did probably not develop until sometime after 1800. Danish and Norwegian sailors in the Battle of Copenhagen in 1807 would most likely not have problems communicating orally, but would definitely be able to tell that the one was a Dane and the other a Norwegian judging by the dialects.

    It is really in the 200 years since the breakup of the union that Danish and Norwegian have grown apart. I am not saying that Norwegians in e.g. 1780 found the book-language particularly ‘Norwegian’, but it could not have been very similar to a e.g. West Jutland dialect either.
     
  27. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    This is a bit tangential, but if you date the divergence to 1200, how does this account for

    1) Norwegian sound changes such as hl-/hn-/hr- > l-/n-/r- , which date to no later than 1100 (from what I've read), but which Icelandic has never undergone to this day?

    2) Icelandic sound changes such as *wr- > r- (as in rangur "wrong"), which I think are seen in the earliest Icelandic texts (thus well before 1200) and may be shared with Norwegian, but not with Swedish or Danish (cf. Sw. vrång, Da. vrang)?
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  28. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Hi Gavril,

    It is one of those times I wish I had checked the facts a little better before I tried to make a point... In short, yes, the two dialect groups had emerged by no later than 1100. Both East and West Norse remained fairly similar and stable for the next two hundred years. However, Norway was actually split in two. Eastern Norway was ENorse territory and Western Norway was WNorse. As long as the political and commercial power in Norway was centered around Trondheim and Bergen, Icelandic was little but a Norwegian dialect (that - as you point out - retained the hl-/hn-/hr-). Once the political power shifted eastwards, so did the linguistic differences between Iceland and Norway increase. Icelandic has remained a true WNorse language, and nynorsk has retained several WNorse traits, but ENorse would over time become the dominant dialect in Norway.

    An example of the latter is wr- > r-. WNorse (incl. Norwegian) had merged sounds like -nt- and -nk- into -tt- and -kk- (although in Norway the merger was incomplete), but by the time the Western Norway and Icelandic dialects shed vr- > r, it did not take in Norwegian, which til this day says "vrang".

    Even today you can tell where the old ENorse/WNorse boundary ran in Norway by looking at the use of diphthongs. Western and Northern Norway uses diphthongs excessively, whereas Eastern and Central Norwegian only sparsely.
     
  29. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish


    It is true that the Oslo version of Bokmål is taught to foreigners, but not necessarily with the pronunciation of the upper class. Rather, the opposite, this kind of pronunciation is almost never taught to foreigners, because it is considered to be snobbish. I have never met any language teacher using this variety of speech. The teachers use instead a wide range of pronunciations oriented towards the "neutral Bokmål", but always closely related to the teacher's native dialect.

    The other thing is that "Oslo's educated pronunciation from the central parts of the city" is not highly esteemed among Norwegians at all. It's just the opposite, this is probably the least prestigious dialect to speak in Norway. People having it as their native dialect usually even seem to be slightly ashamed of this while speaking in public. Norway is thus far ahead of other countries where dialects are being emancipated but where the "standard language" still has some status.
     
  30. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    As a education professional of the language I can only confirm what Ben Jamin is saying - no dialect in particular is used for language training purposes. Spoken bokmål will not correspond with any Norwegian dialect. It is also a misconception that the Oslo dialect is closer to bokmål. Apart from the high-frequency words "ikkje", "mykje", "dokker" and "ég", the Bergen dialect is actually closer to written Bokmål than most Oslo dialects (Oslo has more than one dialect). Sometimes you hear reference to sociolects in Oslo, but the truth is that this is a dying phenomenon. The "upper-class Oslo accent" is on its last leg, and will probably be gone within a generation or two. What was once referred to (and sometime still is) as a "working class accent" is actually the more natural and homegrown dialect of Oslo, largely because it corresponds with the dialects of the Oslo hinterland.

    Oslo is a "new city" in the sense it was not until 1830 it surpassed Bergen in terms of population. Therefore, but unlike the "old" cities Bergen and Trondheim, the majority of the population does not hail from Oslo proper, but from its dialectally related hinterland (a group called 'vikværsk'). The reason Norway has a three-gender system today is largely due to the prominence of Oslo. East Norse merged the Masculine and Feminine grammatical genders - except in vikværsk and adjecent landscapes in Sweden, where it was retained. The major ports along the Southern and Western coasts lost (rather: merged with Masculine) the Feminine grammatical gender, and the original high-status accents in Norway were not from Oslo (which was considered provincial), but the ones of the South (Risør/Arendal/Kristiansand) and West (largely Bergen). The upper-class accent of Oslo today is actually a leftover from the time Bergen and Southern accents were more en vogue, but pronounced with an Eastern approximation.
     
  31. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    So, are we saying that the continental North Germanic languages fall into two divisions, one the varieties spoken in West Norway and the other the varieties spoken in East Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark? If we are saying that, is there a dialect continuum between the east and west divisions?
     
  32. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Actually, both "vrang" and "rang" exist in my dialect with different (but related) meanings. I thought that was the case in all dialects.
     
  33. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Traditionally Scandinavian has been split into two groups:
    Western Scandinavian: Icelandic, Faeroese and Western Norwegian.
    Eastern Scandinavian: Eastern Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.

    And yes, all of mainland Scandinavia is a dialect continuum.
     
  34. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    You are right. However, I am not sure if "rang" exists in Eastern Norwegian. I know it is listed as a Nynorsk-word.
     
  35. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    So, even though West Norwegian is West Scandinavian and East Norwegian is East Scandinavian there is a variety of Norwegian which has characteristics of both?
     
  36. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    The classification is based on a few historical sound changes (monophthongization being one of them). Some varieties of Norwegian went through the sound changes, others didn't. If you look at the West Norwegian dialects as a whole, they have a lot more in common with Swedish and Danish than Icelandic and Faeroese so the traditional classification does not say much. Generally, you'll find varieties of Norwegian which are classified as West Scandinavian so they have preserved many diphthongs historically, but more recent developments gave rise to monophthongs in some words.

    It's not easy to classify languages when they historically belong to one branch and then drifts towards another later on.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  37. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Myslenka's answer above was spot on. I just wanted to go to the core of your question: Most (if not all) Norwegian dialects have traces of both, but to varying degrees. This is due to internal migration, trade and communications, and after 1814, a conscious effort to create a national language. As Myslenka points out, Western and Inland dialects retained many traits from West Norse, but are in essence East Scandinavian dialects now. Nynorsk came about almost as a protest against the Danish-based written norm, but even the most conservative variant of Nynorsk is a far cry from the "true" West Scandinavian languages Icelandic and Faroese. Neither was the creation of Nynorsk an attempt to recreate a language of the past. It was a measure to "purify" the language from foreign influence - not unlike the katharevousa movement in Greece.
     
  38. aprendiendo argento

    aprendiendo argento Senior Member

    Premantura - Croatia
    Croatian (Chakavian)
    The ''problem'' with Bokmål is: in most newspapers (like VG and Aftenposten, but in others too), and translated books, the conservative Bokmål is preferred, which is very Danish-like in structure.
    Although, officially, people are allowed to write in a more Norwegian way (called ''radical Bokmål''), many teachers will lower your grade if you write close to the way you speak.

    For example, people in Hønefoss (60 km NW of Oslo) would say

    Dronninga kasta epla i havna.
    (The queen threw the apples in the harbour).

    And this sentence is Bokmål, but many people will say: -This is not Bokmål, this is ''Samnorsk'' (Bokmål mixed with Nynorsk).-

    Thus, pupils are practically forced to (re)write it as:
    Dronningen kastet eplene i havnen.

    Moderate/conservative Bokmål avoids feminine nouns (expect for some rare cases like jenta, or hytta), preterite in -a (kasta),
    neutral plural in -a (except for barna and bena), West Norwegian dyphthongs, and it prefers Danish-forms over the Norwegian ones
    for example syv for seven, and fremtiden for future...

    Pupils have to accept the ''rules of the game'' too, otherwise, they will receive a lower grade in essays than expected.

    So, we may even speak of a diglossia within Bokmål in this case, between theoretically allowed forms (used in speech), but considered ''inelegant'' in writing,
    and ''moderate'' (''moderate'' is an euphemism for conservative), which sound old-fashioned and overly formal in speech, but are preferred in writing,
    (so dronninga kasta would be Low register, and dronningen kastet High register).


    Norwegianized Bokmål (callled ''radical'') is rare in writing (this is a statement made by G. Kristoffersen in ''The Phonology of Norwegian''), and is less prestigious than Nynorsk.

    ''Lord of the Rings'' was translated only in Nynorsk and in conservative/moderate Bokmål, not in ''radical'' Bokmål.

    Overall, I think Nynorsk has a pretty stable future. Now with the modernized spelling, it should appeal to those who don't like writing in moderate/conservative Bokmål.
    Unlike Swiss German and many other small/minority languages, Nynorsk can be used in many situations, from popular music (low register), to master's theses and dissertations (high register).
    20 % of foreign movies and sitcoms on NRK are subtitled in Nynorsk. Many foreign books are translated in Nynorsk, you get Facebook in Nynorsk and Nynorsk Windows OS as well.

    There is not really hate toward Nynorsk except in Oslo.
    I switched from 3-gender ''radical'' Bokmål to Nynorsk. I just got tired of getting comments like ''You don't write in Bokmål, but in -Samnorsk-''.
    (Even though I always wrote according to the official Bokmålsordboka).
    Now, I get only compliments. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  39. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Yes, but nevertheless the students that have chosen Nynorsk as their main written language achieve more. The explanation might be that Bokmål is still the dominating language, and there is no way of avoiding learning it, while Nynorsk is in defensive, and Bokmål students very seldom achieve a real command of Nynorsk. A similar tendency has been discovered by scholars: small children that learn two languages before they are three years old develop additional cognitive skills (Özerk et al).
     
  40. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Two things - no, they do not use "conservative" bokmål - they use moderate bokmål. Even Aftenposten, once considered to be the last riksmål/conservative bokmål stronghold, is now using more modern forms (even feminine gender); and no, teachers (and I am in that category) will NOT lower your grades for using “radical” forms (in the sense they exist). That is a myth entirely. You can write "det er kommet meget snø" (cons.), "det er kommet mye snø" (moderate), or "det er kommet masse snø" (newer/'younger'). None of them are incorrect, but by 2012, the first one is going to be the odd one in both spoken and written Norwegian.
    No - children have been trained to write "sju" for more than forty years now. "Syv" is at best dialectal. "Epla" has always been a dialect form, occasionally accepted as a permitted non-standard word form, but it has never been the common form. The same goes for “kasta”, which is a non-standard preterit. Both “droning” and “havn” can be either Masculine or feminine in Norwegian. There is no set gender in a number of nouns, but the tendency is that the feminine pattern is applied to growing number of nouns.
    I find this to be a personal opinion by Gjert Kristoffersen. There is really no such thing as "radical bokmål". The spoken language is always the vanguard of the written norm. In English, the word "maybe" was considered vulgar only 120 years ago, but since people kept using it, it not only entered the language, but indeed became the preferred form. "Radical bokmål" is misnomer, usually applied by those who resist change, knowing full well it is inevitable. What was considered "radical" 40 years ago is perfectly normal today, and there is nothing we can do to change this process, and indeed - why should we?
    For the very simply reason it was meant to sound old-fashioned.
    There is no such thing as ‘samnorsk’. At best it was a fleeting idea in the 1930s, but there has never been a serious attempt to combine nynorsk and bokmål.
    When it comes to the use of Feminine gender: If you look at how younger people (middle school, high school, college) write, you cannot help but notice the frequency of feminine nouns, compared to older language users. Likewise, if you look at how bokmål was written 40 years ago, the ascent of feminine is staggering. Granted, in the Oslo/Eastern dialects, feminine is very prevalent in spoken language, so it is not surprising it has made a comeback into the language after having been virtually extinct until the mid-70s.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  41. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Is there a standard form of spoken Norwegian that tends to be used in more formal contexts (official speeches, academic discussion, etc.)?

    Earlier in this thread, it was mentioned that standard Bokmål or Nynorsk is used in newscasts, but that this is becoming less common -- are newscasters now beginning to use their native dialects on TV and radio?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  42. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Actually not, there is no longer any standard pronunciation that anybody tries to reproduce in public speech, that is different from the dialect one regards as one's native speech. As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the speakers of dialects that are close to Bokmål and can be mistaken for being a standard pronunciation are even a little ashamed of speaking it in public.
     
  43. aprendiendo argento

    aprendiendo argento Senior Member

    Premantura - Croatia
    Croatian (Chakavian)
    On national news (on NRK) the use of dialects is discouraged. In fact, Ingerid Stenvold decision to use her native Inner Troms dialect was not welcome by many/(most?) people, especially her coworkers on NRK.
    I just saw her on NRK evening news a few days ago, and apparently she switched back to Bokmål (apparently the criticism was just too hard to stand).
    On local NRK news, it's different, newscasters use a mix of Bokmål/Nynorsk and a local dialect (for example: they use the northern plural in -an: guttan/kronan/barnan on Troms&Finnmark local NRK TV news).
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  44. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Ingerid Stenvold still uses her Troms-dialect on the news, but not all the time. The controversy surrounding it, is tied the fact the news is supposed to be READ, and not spoken, and since dialects have no (official) orthography, they cannot be 'read'. There are two official written standards in Norway, so the news (but applies only to the news on tv/radio, not other programs) it will be read in either bokmål (75% of the time) or nynorsk (25%). However, Ingerid Stenvold made a formal request to 'speak' the news, and since no one speaks bokmål or nynorsk, she wanted to do it in her own dialect.
    The -an plural is common from Molde/Romsdal, through Trøndelag and into Northern dialects. An interesting thing is that in these dialects we have pattern of apocope (loss of final vowel/sound) very similar to English (e.g. Eng. oxen, Norw. oksan). It affects verbs in a similar pattern, and in many cases both Infinitive and Present tense lose their final -e or -er (again - a similar development as in English, but completely independent)
     
  45. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Are you sure about this? You are talking about a fairly big part of the population.
     
  46. aprendiendo argento

    aprendiendo argento Senior Member

    Premantura - Croatia
    Croatian (Chakavian)
    In the strictest sense, only West Oslo, Baerum and Fana suburb of Bergen would apply. :D
    For example, in the city of Bergen people make fun of the ''posh'' dialect (''penbergensk''; which is almost like Riksmaal) spoken by those in Fana. (Fana is Bergen's Baerum).
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  47. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Granted - Fana is an affluent neighborhood in Bergen, but even there is the "posher" version of the Bergen dialect only spoken by 25-30%. It is traditionally referred to as the Kalfaret-sociolect, but in Kalfaret (in Bergen proper) it is almost extinct. The Bærum dialect (sociolect?) is not native to Bæreum, but to Vindern/Frogner/Ullern in Oslo, although most "Oslo West" has lost its sociolects due to internal migration.

    The interesting thing is that riksmål is actually closer to the Bergen and Southern dialects than to the Oslo dialects. Bokmål, on the other hand, is per 2012 closer to the Oslo dialects than to any other dialect in Norway. This is due to the advent of the Greater Oslo area as the main population center in Norway. However, the Oslo dialect is different from standard written Norwegian, especially in terms of contractions and pronouns.
     
  48. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    OK, i didn't mean everybody, it's maybe a little exaggerated, but they are at least not proud of their dialect, as speakers of other dialects are.
     

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