Norwegian: Diacritical marks

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winenous

Senior Member
English - British
I understand that they are used to indicate the meaning of written words that have otherwise have the same spelling. I presume it is always the most common meaning that does not get any mark, which is often also an unstressed word in the sentence, but I was wondering if there was any logic applied in deciding which mark(s) should be used on particular words.

In some cases the mark seems to be chosen to match the one in the foreign language the word comes from. Thus we have allé for example in street names, and I am sure there are others that I cannot think of. Are there examples were the foreign accent is kept, to indicate origin and pronunciation, even if the unaccented word does not exist in Norwegian?

But in other cases it seems completely arbitrary to me. For example there is òg for also, but én for one. And when wondering about fôr, I discovered that fór and fòr also existed, all with identical pronunciations I believe.

I would appreciate any thoughts or discussion.
 
  • raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    We mainly use the "akutt aksent", as in "é", in Norwegian. The purpose is usually to indicate that a syllable or a single-syllable word should be stressed, as in "allé" and "én". This is also done in words that can't be confused with other words, as in "komité". But it is not mandatory to use the mark, except in names (of persons and places).

    I agree that use of the two other marks seem arbitrary, but there may be some reasons back in the history of the language,. See: Aksenttegn i norsk

    Many Norwegians are not aware of the distinctions between these marks, especially between the right-leaning and the left-leaning one. I am sure that I sometimes have written "óg" myself, unaware of the fact that "òg" is the correct form.
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Many thanks @raumar. I think that is as clear as it could be, and in fact just knowing the word aksenttegn will help me in the future. On reading your link, it seems the subject is simultaneously more complex, and yet less important, than I thought.
     
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