standard written Swedish is the most conservative Nordic language on the Scandinavian peninsula

Silverc

New Member
Italian - Italy
I am Italian, but long interested in Nordic languages, whereof I have a general knowledge (some working knowledge of Swedish, in particular, but I can read and get some conversation of also the other languages on the Scandinavian peninsula) - I dare to say that, formally, standard Swedish has heavier traces of Old Norse than the other Scandinavian continental languages in their standardized form. Local varieties are another story.
 
  • JonTve

    Member
    Norwegian, Australia
    Hi, just some points, Scandinavian peninsula is just two counties, Sweden and Norway, but Scandinavia is Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Island and the language closes to old Norse is the Islandish.
     

    Silverc

    New Member
    Italian - Italy
    Yes, I did not express myself clearly: indeed Denmark is part of the region that is meant by the generic expression "Scandinavia". I should have said "continental North Germanic languages" (Danish, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Swedish, and all associated local variations of all 4 literary languages), as opposed to Icelandic and Faroese. Of course, contemporary Icelandic is nearest to Old Norse (at least in its written form, the pronunciation may have diverged from the ancient one as much as any other Nordic Language among the aforesaid). What I wanted to say is that, among the continental Nordic languages, Swedish (and also Nynorsk) are nearest to old forms, although of course much less so than both Icelandic and Faroese. In saying this, I have in mind some features, as follows. 1) In Swedish, and to a lesser extent in Nynorsk (for what I know, that is, not much … ) there is a variety of vocals (a, o, u, y, etc.) in unstressed position, while Danish and Bokmål in the vast majority of cases have an "e", pronounced more or less as a "schwa" sound. Thus, in Swedish in many more cases than in either Norwegian or even more so than in Danish, there is a good correspondence between Icelandic (nominative, accusative) plural endings -ur, -ar, -ir and Swedish -or, -ar, -er. 2) Also as a consequence of item 1), a certain amount of old inflexions have remained in many expressions, and in some case they are still active in forming compound words, e. g.: "stundom" (at times), "lagom" (with measure, lit.: "according to the laws"), "konungariket" (State ruled by kings, i. e.: Kingdom), "kvinnosak" ("case of the women", i. e: women's rights), "lärobok" (textbook), "varuhus" (store), veckodag (weekday), "till salu" (for sale), "gatutrafik" (street traffic), etc. . 3) In the same vein, also adjectival endings for comparative and superlative are almost identical betw. Sw. and Ic., e.g. Sw. dyr - dyrare - (den) dyraste. Ic. dýr - dýrari - dýrast(ur, nom.). Also, the strong verb forms are relatively conservative in form, with respect to the other continental languages. Early modern Swedish, the language of the bulk of classical Swedish literature of the 18th and 19th and early 20th centuries was a lot more conservative as regards verbal forms (there were singular and plural forms, both in the present tense for all verbs and in the strong past tenses), and although no more used, it should be known by literature students.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    But Norwegian has 3 genders, and Swedish has only 2. The Swedes could have based their spelling on a dialect that still distinguished the 3 genders. Norwegian also has diphtongues that got reduced in Swedish and Danish.

    English - Old Norse - Norwegian - Swedish - Danish
    leg/bone - bein - bein/ben - ben - ben
    hay - hey - høy - hö - hø
    hill - haugr - haug - hög - høj

    Written Norwegian and Danish also still have question words starting with "hv".
    I would say that Nynorsk is at least as conservative as Swedish, if not more so.
     

    Silverc

    New Member
    Italian - Italy
    In Danish "hv" is superfluous, h never pronounced. And also in much Norwegian. The Swedish spelling was reformed in 1906. The main changes were: 1) "hv" initial, "fv" medial, and "f" final were all changed to "v". That is "hvad" = "vad"; "hufvud" = "huvud"; "haf" = "hav". 2) "dt" changed to "tt", e. g.: "godt" = "gott", and so on. In older Swedish spelling it was also common to see "th" for "t" or "d", even if "th" had not been pronounced as such for several hundred years. If these changes had not been introduced, Swedish would look a lot more "Old Norse", or "Icelandic". I am referring to "general Swedish", whereas in some local dialects there can be traces of past pronunciations, I think the only trace is maybe for "hv" near the border of Northern Norway.
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    but Scandinavia is Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Island
    No, I don't think so. Scandinavia is generally used for Sweden, Norway and Denmark, while the Nordic countries also include Finland and Iceland. But it is of course true that Denmark isn't a part of the peninsula.

    e.g. Sw. dyr - dyrare - (den) dyraste.
    It is exactly the same in Nynorsk Norwegian.

    But Norwegian has 3 genders, and Swedish has only 2.
    That is a good point. Three genders for nouns are used consistently in Nynorsk, and somewhat less consistently in Bokmål.

    Written Norwegian and Danish also still have question words starting with "hv".
    That is the case in Bokmål, but Nynorsk uses "kv" or "k" (and the k's are pronounced). Bokmål "hvem, hva, hvor, hvordan" = Nynorsk "kven, kva, kor/kvar, korleis".

    I would say that Nynorsk is at least as conservative as Swedish, if not more so.
    Of course, the "conservatism" of languages may vary between different indicators, But this seems to be a reasonable conclusion.
     

    Silverc

    New Member
    Italian - Italy
    No, I don't think so. Scandinavia is generally used for Sweden, Norway and Denmark, while the Nordic countries also include Finland and Iceland. But it is of course true that Denmark isn't a part of the peninsula.



    It is exactly the same in Nynorsk Norwegian.



    That is a good point. Three genders for nouns are used consistently in Nynorsk, and somewhat less consistently in Bokmål.



    That is the case in Bokmål, but Nynorsk uses "kv" or "k" (and the k's are pronounced). Bokmål "hvem, hva, hvor, hvordan" = Nynorsk "kven, kva, kor/kvar, korleis".



    Of course, the "conservatism" of languages may vary between different indicators, But this seems to be a reasonable conclusion.
    In agreement with you, I may add that also in standard Swedish, as far as I know, traces of two animate genders are also still remaining. You can still use, also colloquially, these forms: "den gode mannen", as opposed to "den goda kvinnan", "denne" for a man, "denna" for a woman, "käre du" (you dear) can only be a male . Also, certain inanimate objects that have a "traditional" gender may be referred to, in certain contexts, with pronouns "han" or "hon", according to Old Norse genders.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I think all feminine nouns in Swedish are marked with suffix -a and plural -or, so even though feminine words get the same articles and adjective endings as masculine words, they are still a distinct groups of nouns, unlike in Danish.
     

    Silverc

    New Member
    Italian - Italy
    I think all feminine nouns in Swedish are marked with suffix -a and plural -or, so even though feminine words get the same articles and adjective endings as masculine words, they are still a distinct groups of nouns, unlike in Danish.
    It is true only for -a feminine nouns, which form a substantial number of all feminine nouns, but not in general. F. ex., the plural of "dam" (lady) is "damer" … . My point, in fact, is that the plural formations (excluding case inflections) in Swedish (again, I cannot say about Nynorsk, but for sure my observation applies to Norwegian Bokmål, not to speak abou Danish) are more reminiscent (although of course not the same) of Old Norse/Icelandic than the other cognate languages on the continent. Do not tell me about some (very few) exceptions like the plural of "barn", being "barn" in Swedish, without "avljud", and "børn" in Norwego-Danish, exceptions whereof I am well aware of. As a rule, Icelandic has forms like "lag - lög", for example, where Swedish has "lag - lag", and Norwegian and Danish have "lov", Icelandic has land - lönd, Swedish land - land, or länder (maybe slightly different context usages), o. s. v. .
     
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