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The Languages of ScandinaviaSeven Sisters of the North$
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Ruth H. Sanders

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226493893

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226493923.001.0001

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The Black Death Comes for Norwegian

The Black Death Comes for Norwegian

Danish Makes a House Call

Chapter:
(p.113) 5 The Black Death Comes for Norwegian
Source:
The Languages of Scandinavia
Author(s):

Ruth H. Sanders

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226493923.003.0006

The Black Death of the early fourteenth century resulted in the death of possibly as much as 60% of the population of Norway, the hardest hit among the countries of the North. The loss of population eventually led to the nonfunctioning of the Norwegian monarchy, and Denmark filled the gap, as their elite classes took over the governance of Norway. Danish became the language of government administration and the de facto national public language. Norwegian was seldom read and seldom written, and no national standard developed for either writing or speaking Norwegian. Spoken rural dialects were to serve as the linguistic reservoir that made possible the renaissance, five hundred years later, of Norway’s written language. Additionally, Modern Norwegian was doubled. The twins are named Bokmål ‘book language’, based on the literary and urban Norwegianized Danish that developed while Denmark ruled Norway; and Nynorsk ‘New Norwegian’, based on the spoken Norwegian dialects of the towns and rural districts. Today they are the two faces of Modern Norwegian.

Keywords:   Black Death, Dano-Norwegian, Nynorsk, Bokmål, Russenorsk

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