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BOKMÅL  vs  NYNORSK

 

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BOKMÅL  vs  NYNORSK

Norway has two main languages- Bokmål and Nynorsk.  While Bokmål and Nynorsk are two distinct written languages, they are similar in many respects.  In Civil Service situations there is a law that directs how government employees should use each.  Urban centers primarily use Bokmål and perhaps 10-12% of the Norwegian population uses Nynorsk today.

 

The following excerpt from the works of Lars S Vikør give you some insight to the formation of the two languages.

 

After the secession of Norway from Denmark in 1814, this situation continued, but it was felt as increasingly problematic. Europe, including Scandinavia, had now reached the Romantic Age, and one of the new insights was that there was a deep connection between a nation and its language. The question arose of how Norway should attain linguistic autonomy. In the decisive period between 1830 and 1860, two answers to this question appeared.

 

One was formulated by the self-taught linguist Ivar Aasen (1813-96). After extensive research which entailed more than four years of travel around southern Norway in the 1840s, he presented a comparative study of the dialects which became the foundation of Norwegian dialectology. Based on this material and aided by methods developed by internationally known linguists such as Rasmus Rask and Jacob Grimm, he developed a standard written norm for modern Norwegian, presented in a grammar (1864, see Haugen 1965 [1]) and a dictionary (1873). This became the basis of the variety called Nynorsk.

 

The other method for developing a Norwegian written standard was less dramatic, perhaps, but still controversial  namely, using the Danish written language as a basis and norwegianizing it according to the norms of urban upper-class speech. This approach is associated with its most prominent spokesman in the nineteenth century, the teacher Knud Knudsen (181295). The variety resulting from it, which Knudsen and his followers called "Dano-Norwegian", was the basis of modern Bokmål.

 

Nynorsk received official recognition through a parliamentary resolution in 1885. This resolution was the legal basis for the subsequent expansion of Nynorsk as an official form of Norwegian first manifested in the school sector. As we explained before, Nynorsk had been accepted as the language of instruction in primary schools throughout most of rural Norway outside the southeast by 1940, but it lost ground in large parts of the area during the fifties and sixties. At the highest, the proportion of school children using Nynorsk was estimated to be about 34% (in 1944). After the war, it declined steadily: 32% in 1946, 25% in 1955, 20% in 1965,18% in 1970. It reached bottom in 1977: 16.4%. This percentage remained constant during the next four years, after which it slowly began to rise again: in 1990 it was 17%. In the nineties a new decline has shown itself; in 1999 the percentage was 15.3.

 

[From Vikør, Lars S. The Nordic languages. Their Status and Interrelations. Oslo: Novus Press 2001. Nordic Language Council. ISBN 82-7099-336-0.]

 

Articles at www.sprakrad.no/nynor.htm give you a detailed discussion about the languages.