North Germanic languages

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The Scandinavian languages
  • Danish
  • Swedish
  • Norwegian ( Bokmål and Nynorsk )
  • Icelandic
  • Faroese
  • Norn
  • The North Germanic languages (also called Scandinavian or Nordic languages ) include Icelandic , Faroese , Norwegian , Danish, and Swedish . They are a subgroup of the Germanic languages . About 20 million people speak a North Germanic language as their mother tongue .

    The North Germanic split from the West Germanic at the turn of the times . The Old Icelandic passed down through the Edda is considered the archetype of the North Germanic languages ​​and is therefore often equated with Old Norse ; however, the oldest surviving North Germanic language is primordial Nordic .

    In the Nordic countries , the mutually understandable modern North Germanic languages ​​spoken in Scandinavia , i. H. Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, often referred to as Scandinavian languages.

    Mutual relationship of the individual languages

    The dialects of the West or Island Nordic languages Faroese and Icelandic are closely related. Modern Faroese and Icelandic are most similar to Old Icelandic because both languages ​​have been less exposed to the influences of other European languages. Icelanders try to avoid Anglicisms and other non-Nordic loanwords . Most of the Norwegian dialects also belong to the West-Nordic (but not island-Nordic) group and subsequently also the Nynorsk created from this, as well as Jämtland (Jamska) and finally Norn , which was spoken on the Shetland Islands and the Orkneys until the 18th century . The last speaker of the norn died in the 19th century.

    The three widespread Scandinavian languages Danish , Norwegian and Swedish are comparatively still quite similar , although communication between speakers of two of these languages can often be easier, depending on the dialect spoken , than that between speakers of different dialects of one of these languages. Some very different variants are sometimes classified as separate languages. On the other hand, the written languages of Bokmål and even more of Riksmål used in Norway are Norwegianized daughter languages ​​of Danish, as they were "constructed" in the 19th century from the Danish spoken in Norway.

    On the Swedish island of Gotland is Gutnish speaking, the strong in-house developments except certain Danish , Middle Low German , Baltic and Slavic has influences, but due to the dominance of the Swedish in the classroom since 1645 is dominated increasingly Swedish. While the medieval Altgutnisch is considered a separate language, today it is usually classified as a Swedish dialect. Also in the former Danish Scania spoken Scanian also has features of the Danish and can be classified both as southern Sweden as well as ostdänischer dialect.

    A Swedish dialect called " Åland " is spoken on the Åland archipelago belonging to Finland . Åland is linguistically closer to the Upland dialects than to the Finnish-Swedish. Some words come from Russian, as the archipelago belonged to the tsarist empire from 1809 to 1917.

    Is on the south and west coast of Finland Finland Swedish spoken. These dialects have some Finnish influences, including various borrowings and prosody . The situation is similar with Southern Schleswig-Danish , which is shaped in many aspects by the (northern) German colloquial language that dominates in Southern Schleswig today. Variants formerly spoken there, such as Angel Danish , became largely extinct with the change of language in the 19th century; Jutland dialects are only widespread in the immediate vicinity of the border.

    Historical classifications

    Oskar Bandle , Odd Einar Haugen and Arne Torp divide the individual North Germanic languages ​​into the different language periods as follows.

    As a result of the monophthonging from Germanic / ei /, / au / and / ey / ~ / øy / to East Scandinavian / eː / and / øː /, which occurred from 800 AD in the south and east of Scandinavia, a distinction was made between West Nordic and East Nordic for the following centuries:

    • West Norse
      • Old Icelandic
      • Old Norwegian
    • East Nordic
      • Old Danish
      • Old Swedish

    In the 12th century that are in Southern Scandinavia plosives / p, t, b k / after a vowel to /, d, g / lenited and standing in an unstressed position vowels / a, i, attenuated o ~ u / to marble sound / Ǝ / . At the same time, Danish inflection was also radically simplified. All in all, Danish separated itself from the other Nordic languages, so that a different classification can be made for this period:

    • South Norse
      • Old Danish
    • North Nordic
      • Old Icelandic
      • Old Norwegian
      • Old Swedish

    With the development in the late Middle Ages, Icelandic and Faroese largely retained the old language structures with their pronounced inflection, whereas they have now been greatly simplified in large parts of Norwegian and Swedish. From around 1500 a third division of the North Germanic languages ​​therefore applies:

    These classifications are not genetic trees in the sense of the family tree model . They describe structural similarities between languages ​​of a certain period. If these languages ​​change significantly, the similarities also increase or decrease, so that a new classification may arise.


    There is little evidence for the suspected Greenland Norse of the Grænlendingar , which disappeared in the 15th century .

    See also


    • Oskar Bandle : The structure of the North Germanic. Helbing & Lichtenhahn, Basel / Stuttgart 1973; 2nd edition (reprint) Francke, Tübingen 2011.
    • Kurt Braunmüller: An overview of the Scandinavian languages. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Francke, Tübingen / Basel 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-1635-1 .
    • Einar Haugen : The Scandinavian languages. An introduction to their history. Hamburg 1984 (English original: The Scandinavian Languages. An Introduction to their History. London 1976).

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Scandinavian language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


    1. ^ Niels Åge Nielsen: Dansk dialektantologi - Østdansk og ømål , Charlottenlund 1978, ISBN 87-7215-623-6
    2. cf. Elin Fredsted: Languages ​​and cultures in contact - German and Danish minorities in Sønderjlland / Schleswig , in: Christel Stolz: Besides German: The autochthonous minority and regional languages ​​of Germany , Bochum 2009. P. 19 ff.
    3. ^ Oskar Bandle : The structure of North Germanic. Basel / Stuttgart 1973 (2nd edition 2011).
    4. See Odd Einar Haugen : Grunnbok in norrønt språk. 2. utgåve, Gyldendal, Oslo 1995, ISBN 82-417-0506-9 .
    5. ^ Arne Torp: Nordiske språk i nordisk og germansk perspective. Oslo 1998.
    6. limited preview in the Google book search