Norwegian dialectal diversity

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Gavril, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA

    After the discussion in the previous Norweigan thread, I'm curious about the degree and kind of differences between the Norwegian dialects, and between the dialects and Bokmål/Nynorsk.

    Languages/dialects can differ within at least three areas: A) pronunciation, B) grammar and C) vocabulary. For example, there are many noticeable differences of pronunciation between American English dialects, but I would say that the grammar and vocabulary are fairly similar from dialect to dialect. On the other hand, I think that Scots is quite different in both vocabulary and pronunciation (and possibly grammar as well) from neighboring forms of English.

    For those of you who speak a Norwegian dialect, would you say that this dialect is very distinct (both from other dialects and from Bokmål/Nynorsk) in all three of the above aspects, or is the difference more heavily "weighted" towards one of the three?

    Thanks for any information
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  2. Lugubert Senior Member

    I don't often watch television, but once, several years ago, I stumbled into a Norwegian contest, where two teams competed to place video clips geographically. The clips sometimes featured people in their environment and in bunad (local traditional clothing), but the identification seemed to be mainly according to dialect features.

    I (a Swede) found it totally uncanny how often the two teams managed to pinpoint the locations down to even parish level. I have no idea of to what degree vocabulary and grammar played a part, but had the impression that pronunciation was the major clue.
  3. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    If you remember the name of this show, please post back here! I'd be very interested to see if I could find that show.
  4. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norway is part of the Scandinavian dialect continuum so you won't too many (if any) places in Norway where a given dialect is very distinct from the neighbouring ones so the comparison is much easier to make with the written standards.

    A) I am not sure there is a standard way of pronouncing Bokmål/Nynorsk, but I am quite sure most (if not all) dialects exhibit pronunciations which are not reflected in spelling if that is what you are looking for (palatalization, retroflexes, stress patterns, intonation and tones etc)

    B) Is morphology included in this point? The grammar in my dialect is very similar to the grammar of Nynorsk. Gender declensions and strong verbs are almost identical to Nynorsk.

    C) The vocabulary is very similar to that found in Bokmål.

    I think this would be true for a wide array of Norwegian dialects.
  5. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA

    American Midland dialects use (e.g.) "my clothes need washed", and "there was a lot of us girls"; Southern dialects might use: "you was sitting on that chair" and "I used to could do that" and "I done told you before"; New York dialect: "She asked why don't you want any" and "He wanted to know when will he come". In addition - all these dialects have different pronunciation, stress and phonetics emphasis.

    So - do you consider this to be grammatical differences? I do not. I think they are 'quirks', and by the same logic I think Norwegian dialects are pretty uniform in terms of grammar. Every dialect probably has its one idiosyncrasies, but not to the point you could argue it grammatical structure is different.

    The fact that New Yorkers say "stoop" for porch and "bodega" for convenience store; Bostonians say "tonic", Mid-Westerners and Southerners say "pop" and the rest says "soda"; and in various places people say "gully", "creek" or "kill" (they all mean 'stream/brook') is not really a lexical difference more than a lexical preference. You will come across odd words in every dialect, but that is only to be expected. It does not mean that the basic vocabulary is altered in any significant way.

    With the exception of a few grammatical quirks and lexical oddities, Norwegian dialects differ mostly in pronunciation and phonetics.

    - all Norwegians speak dialects. There is no spoken standard or 'norm' for either Bokmål or Nynorsk
  6. romario_ New Member

    I m not a native speaker,but i understand and speak (a little bit) their dialects.If compared with Bokmal,then you get differences quite significant,specially A) pronunciation,C) vocabulary.The grammar is practically coincident with standard norwegian...even if i m still searching some differences.For example my dialect has not the future....if it happens happens in Norway too.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  7. myšlenka Senior Member

    As stated by NorwegianNYC in post #5, there is no spoken standard of Bokmål so a comparison of pronunciation isn't really applicable in this case. As for point C), it depends on which dialect you compare with Bokmål. A dialect from Oslo does not have significant vocabulary differences with respect to Bokmål, relatively speaking of course.
  8. romario_ New Member

    Well.We do so.Gavril,when you ll speak with norwegians ,you ask them to speak in their dialects .They will be happy,and proud (justly),to use it.When one of them will ask to another "but what means this word?", you think on what i wrote.
  9. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA

    Judging by your profile, I believe you are Italian, and Italian and German are good examples in this regard. In Italy you have forms that are so different from Standard Italian (SI) in A), B) and C) that they are recognized as languages in their own right (such as Sardinian, Friulian, Ladin, Sicilian). There are unofficial languages more closely related to Occitan and Provencal than to SI - especially in terms of A) and C) - such as Piemotese, Ligurian, Lombard, Emiliano/Romagnol and Venetian. On a third tier, there are dialectal variants of SI such as Umbrian, Sabino, Romanesco, the various Tuscan dialects, and the Neapolitan dialects that mostly differ in terms of A).

    Despite the plethora of Norwegian dialects, none of them are sub-languages in their own right, or more related to other languages than to each other. Norwegian dialects differ in terms of pronunciation, and it is also predictable how a word would change depending on where you are, such as: ikke/ekke/ikkje/itte/itj. These are not different words - they are simply regional renditions of the same word. Occasionally, you will find words that are used differently (Trondheim: 'klar' = worn out; Oslo: 'klar' = ready), different words used for the same thing (Bergen: 'boss' = garbage; Oslo; 'søppel' = garbage), and sometimes syntactic differences (Trondheim etc: 'ka det é?' = "what it is?"; Oslo etc: 'hva er det?' = what is it?). However, the differencies in B) and C) are minor, it is all about A).

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