Have you ever wondered what was before modern Norwegian, back when there was no bokmål and nynorsk? Are you by any case interested in language that developed by the Viking Age? Here’s some of my research.
Norrønt (english: Old Norse) was a North Germanic language spoken mostly in Norway and Iceland. (yes, Norwegian has German roots). Its popularity was really high in Viking Time and the difference between forms of Norrønt were so small that inhabitants of whole Scandinavia could speak with each other really easily. Even the name of the language was really similar: Norrønt (gammelnorsk) in Norway, Norrønt (gammelislandsk) in Iceland, England – Old Norse, Sweden – Fornnordiska (gammelsvensk), in Denmark it was probably Dǫnsk Tunga (gammeldansk).
This map shows placement of old scandinavian dialects (forms of Norrønt) in 9th century. Most of the white in Norway are mountains so therefore it is probably impossible to gain knowledge about dialects there from that period. It can also show an impact of Norwegian language in England and Scotland (look at yellow and red color for example). It also show us some of the Vikings expansions. (I will write about it some day).
The Era of Norrønt can divide into three periods:
1. 8th century – 1200 -> the smallest difference between Old Norse and Old Icelandic
2. 1200 – 1350 -> small changes appear
3. around 1300 – + -> a lot of changes, the difference creates borders between dialects and languages
Norrønt also dividies in two categories:
- older Norrønt – used runes, including futhark; used mostly in Viking Era. It also divided into Vestnordisk (west; gammel islandsk og norsk) and Østnordisk (east; gammel svensk og dansk).
- younger Norrønt (classic Norrønt) – used latin alphabet in the same time as runes, most of the Saga’s from 12th century (the most popular ones) were written in classic Norrønt. Old Icelandic and Old Norse started to differ.
Norrønt springed from urnordisk (200-500) which rived in Viking Era into three north dialects: Norwegian-Icelandic, Danish-Swedish and Old Gotlandic (Gutnish).
- gammel – old
- nordisk – Nordic
It’s a really wide subjects to write about, so I decided to divide it into parts. I don’t want to include too much in one post because everyone would get bored in the middle of text. Hope you found this as interesting as it is for me.
Have a nice weekend!