1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Scandinavian Languages

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SCANDINAVIAN LANGUAGES.[1] By this expression we understand the closely allied languages which are and have been Territory. spoken by the Teutonic population in Scandinavia, and by the inhabitants of the countries that have been wholly or partially peopled from it. The territory of these languages embraces: Sweden, except the most northerly part (chiefly Lapland and inland parts of Vesterbotten, where Finnish and Lappish exclusively or chiefly prevail); certain islands and districts on the coast of western and southern Finland, as well as Åland; a small tract on the coast of Esthonia, where Swedish is spoken, as it is also to some extent in the Esthonian islands of Dagö, Nargö, Nukkö, Odensholm, Ormsö and Rågö; Gammalsvenskby (“Galsvenskbi”) in southern Russia (government of Kherson), a village colonized from Dagö; the Livonian island of Runo, where Swedish is spoken, as it formerly was on the islands of Kynö, Mannö, Moon and Ösel; Norway, except certain regions, especially in the northern part of the country, peopled by Finns and Lapps (mainly in the diocese of Tromsö); Denmark, with the Faeroes, Iceland and Greenland, where, however, Danish is only spoken by a very small part of the population; the northern half of Schleswig; and, finally, several Scandinavian colonies in the United States of North America (especially in Minnesota and Illinois). Scandinavian dialects have besides been spoken for varying periods in the following places: Norwegian in certain parts of Ireland (A.D. 800-1250) and northern Scotland, in the Isle of Man (800-1450), the Hebrides (800-1400), the Shetland Islands (800-1800) and the Orkneys (800-1800); Danish in the whole of Schleswig, in the north-eastern part of England (the Danelagh, q.v., 875-1175), and in Normandy (900-1100, or a little longer); Swedish in Russia (862-1300, or a little longer);[2] Icelandic in Greenland (985- about 1450).

At what epoch the Teutonic population settled in Scandinavia we cannot as yet even approximately decide. It is quite certain, Age. however, that it already existed there before the Christian era—most probably as early as the beginning of the so-called Later Stone Age (5000 B.C., but see Scandinavian Civilization), if not still earlier. If this view be correct, the Scandinavian languages have had an existence of seven thousand years at least. But it is only from the beginning of the Christian era that we can get any information concerning the language of the old Scandinavians, which seems by that time not only to The Primitive Scandinavian language. have spread over Denmark and great parts of southern and middle Sweden and of Norway, but also to have reached Finland (at least Nyland) and Esthonia. In spite of its extension over this considerable geographical area, the language appears to have been fairly homogeneous throughout the whole territory. Consequently, it may be regarded as a uniform language, the mother of the younger Scandinavian tongues, and accordingly has been named the primitive Scandinavian (urnordisk) language. The oldest sources of our knowledge of this tongue are the words which were borrowed during the first centuries of the Christian era by the Lapps from the inhabitants of central Sweden and Norway, and by the Finns from their neighbours in Finland and Esthonia (partly, it is true, also from their Gothic neighbours in Russia and the Baltic provinces), and which have been preserved in Finnish and Lappish down to our own days.[3] These borrowed words, denoting chiefly utensils belonging to a fairly advanced stage of culture, amount to several hundreds, with a phonetic form of a very primitive stamp; as Finn. terva (O. Swed. tiæra, Ger. teer), tar; airo (O. Swed. ar.), oar; kansa (O.H.G. hansa), society; napakaira (O.H.G. nabagêr, O. Swed. navar), auger; ansas (Got. ans, O. Swed. as), beam; Lapp sajet (Got. saian, O. Borrowed words. Swed. sa), sow; garves (O.H.G. garawêr, O. Sw. gör), finished; divres (O. Sax. diuri, O. Swed. dyr), dear; saipo (O.H.G. seifa), soap. These words, with those mentioned by contemporary Roman and Greek authors, as well as the most ancient runic inscriptions mentioned below, are the oldest existing traces of any Teutonic language. Wrested from their context, however, they throw but little light on the nature of the original northern tongue. But an equally old series of linguistic monuments has come down to us dating from a little before the end of the so-called Early Iron Age (about A.D. 400)—the knowledge and the use of the oldest runic alphabet (with twenty-four characters) having at that period been propagated among the Scandinavians by the southern Runic inscriptions. Teutonic tribes. In fact we still possess, preserved down to our own times, primitive northern runic inscriptions, the oldest upon the utensils found at Vi in Schleswig and Thorsbjerg in Denmark, dating back to about A.D. 250-300, which, together with the MS. fragments of Ulfilas' Gothic translation of the Bible, about two hundred years later in date, constitute the oldest genuine monuments of any Teutonic tongue.

These runic inscriptions are for the most part found on stone monuments (sometimes on rocks) and bracteates (gold coins stamped on one side and used for ornaments), as well as on metallic and wooden utensils, weapons and ornaments.[4] Up to 1908 there had been discovered more than one hundred, but of these only about one-half give us any information concerning the language, and most of them are only too short. The longest of those satisfactorily interpreted, the stone-monument of Tune, in south-eastern Norway, contains only sixteen words. Their language is perhaps somewhat later in character than that of the oldest words borrowed by the Lapps and Finns, voiced s, for example, is changed into a kind of r (cf. dagaR = Goth. dags, day; but Finn. armas = Goth. arms, poor). On the other hand, in all essential matters it is much earlier in character than the language of contemporary Gothic manuscripts, and no doubt approaches more nearly than any Teutonic idiom the primitive form of the Teutonic tongue For the sake of comparison, we give a Gothic translation of one of the oldest of the primitive Scandinavian inscriptions, that on the golden horn of Gallehus, found on the Danish-German frontier, and dating from about A.D. 300.—

Scand.: EK HLEWAGASTIR. HOLTINGAR. HORNA. TAWIDO;
Goth.: ik Hliugasts Hultiggs haurn tawida;
Engl.: I, HlewagastiR, from Holta, made the horn;

as well as the inscription on the stone monument of Järsberg in Western Sweden, which is about 250 years later:—

Scand.: UBAR HITE. HARABANAR WIT IAH EK ERILAR RUNOR WARITU;
Goth.: Ubs Hita, Hrabns wit jah ik Airils rûnôs writu;
Engl.: UbaR (erected the monument in memory of) HitaR. We both, HarabanaR and I ErilaR, wrote the runes.

Although very brief, and not yet thoroughly interpreted,[5] these primitive Scandinavian inscriptions are nevertheless Relation to other languages. sufficient to enable us to determine with some certainty the relation which the language in which they are written bears to other languages. Thus it is proved that it belongs to the Teutonic family of the Indo-European stock of languages, of which it constitutes an independent and individual branch. Its nearest relation beingf the Gothic, these two branches were formerly sometimes taken together under the general denomination Eastern Teutonic, as opposed to the other Teutonic idioms (German, English, Dutch, &c.), which were then called Western Teutonic.

The most essential point of correspondence between the Gothic and Scandinavian branches is the insertion in certain cases of gg before w and j (ggj in Gothic was changed into ddj), as in gen. plur. O.H.G. zweiio, O. Eng. tweȝa (two), compared with O. Icel., O. Norw. tueggia, O. Swed., O. Dan. twæggiae, Goth. twaddjê; and, still, in German treu, Eng. true, compared with Swed., Norw., Dan. trygg, Icel. tryggr, Goth. triggws. However, even in the primitive Scandinavian age the difference between Gothic and Scandinavian is more clearly marked than the resemblance; thus, for example—just to hint only at some of the oldest and most essential differences—Goth. nom. sing. ending in -s corresponds to primitive Scandinavian -aR, -iR (as Goth. dags, day, gasts, guest = Scand. dagaR, gastiR); Goth. gen. sing. in -is to Scand. -as (as Goth. dagis, day's = Scand. dagas); Goth. dat. sing. in -a to Scand. -e (as Goth. kaurna, corn = Scand. kurne); Goth. 1st pers. sing. pret. in -da to Scand. -do (as Goth. tawida, did = Scand. tawido).

Already before the beginning of the so-called Viking period Transformation. (since about A.D. 800) the primitive Scandinavian language had undergone a considerable transformation, as is proved, for example, by the remarkable runic stone at Istaby in the south of Sweden, with the inscription (about A.D. 650):—

AFĄTR HARIWULĄFĄ HAþUWULĄFR HAERUWULĄFIR WĄRAIT RUNAR þAIAR;
Engl.: In memory of HariwulfR, HaþuwulfR, son of HeruwulfR, wrote these runes.

Here, e.g. we find nom. sing. in -aR changed into -r (cf. haþuwulafR with holtingaR on the golden horn), and the plural ending -oR into -aR (cf. runaR with runoR on the Järsberg-stone). At the beginning of the Viking period the Scandinavian language seems to have undergone an extraordinarily rapid development, which almost completely transformed its character. This change is especially noticeable in the dropping of unaccented vowels, and in the introduction of a certain vowel harmony of different kinds (Umlaut, vowel changes, caused by a following i (j) or u (w), as kwœði for kwāði, poem, and “Brechung,” as healpa instead of helpa to help), different assimilations of consonants (as ll, nn for lþ, nþ; ll, nn, rr and ss for lR, nR, rR and sR), dropping of w before o and u (as orð, ulfr for worð, word, wulfR, wolf)(simplified inflection of the verbs, a new passive formed by means of affixing the reflexive pronoun sik or seR to the active form (as kalla-sk, kalla-ss, to call one's self, to be called), &c.

At this epoch, therefore, the primitive Scandinavian language must be considered as no longer existing. The centuries Period of transition. A.D. 700-1000 form a period of transition as regards the language as well as the alphabet which it employed. We possess some inscriptions belonging to this period in which the old runic alphabet of twenty-four characters is still used, and the language of which closely resembles that of the primitive Scandinavian monuments, as, for example, those on the stones of Stentoften (about 700) and Björketorp (about 750), both from southern Sweden, being the longest inscriptions yet found with the old runic alphabet. On the other hand, inscriptions have come down to us dating from about A.D. 800, in which the later and exclusively Scandinavian alphabet of sixteen characters has almost completely superseded the earlier alphabet from which it was developed, while the language not only differs widely from the original Scandinavian, but also exhibits dialectical peculiarities suggesting the existence Dialects. of a Danish-Swedish language as opposed to Norwegian, as the form ruulf on the stone at Flemlöse in Denmark, which in a Norwegian inscription would have been written hruulf corresponding to Hrolf in Old Norwegian literature. These differences, however, are still unimportant, and the Scandinavians still considered their language as one and the same throughout Scandinavia, and named it Dǫnsk tunga, Danish tongue. But when Iceland was colonized (c. 900), chiefly from western Norway, a separate (western) Norwegian dialect gradually sprang up, at first of course only differing slightly from the mother-tongue. It was not until the definitive introduction of Christianity (about A.D. 1000) that the language was so far differentiated as to enable us to distinguish, in runic inscriptions and in the literature which was then arising, four different dialects, which have ever since existed as the four literary languages—Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. Of these the latter two, often comprehended within the name of Eastern Scandinavian, as well as the former two, Western Scandinavian, or, to use the Old Scandinavians' own name, Norrǿnt mál, Northern tongue, are very nearly related to each other. The most important differences between the two branches, as seen in the oldest preserved documents, are the following: (1) In. E. Scand. far fewer cases of “Umlaut,” as vāre, W. Scand. vǽre, were; land, W. Scand. lond (from landu), lands; (2) E. Scand. “Brechung” of y into iu (or io) before ng (w), nk(w), as siunga, W. Scand. syngua (from singwa), to sing; (3) in E. Scand. mp, nk, nt are in many cases not Differences between Eastern and Western Scandinavian. assimilated into pp, kk, tt, as krumpin, W. Scand. kroppenn, shrunken; ænkia, W. Scand. ekkìa, widow; bant, W. Scand. batt, he bound; (4) in E. Scand. the dative of the definite plural ends in -umin instead of W. Scand. -onom, as in handumin, hǫndonom, (to) the hands; (5) in. E. Scand. the simplification of the verbal inflectional endings is far further advanced, and the passive ends in -s(s) for -sk, as in kallas(s), W. Scand. kallask, to be called. In several of these points, and indeed generally speaking, the Western Scandinavian languages have preserved the more primitive forms, which also are found in the oldest Eastern Scandinavian runic inscriptions, dating from a period before the beginning of the literature, as well as in many modern Eastern Scandinavian dialects. For, having regard to the Scandinavian dialects generally, we must adopt. quite a different classification from that indicated by the dialects which are represented in the literature. We now pass on to review the latter and their history.

I. Icelandic.—In ancient times Icelandic was by far the most important of the Scandinavian languages, in form as well as in literature. To avoid ambiguity, the language before the Reformation (about 1530) is often called Old Icelandic.

I. Old Icelandic was spoken not only in Iceland, but also in Greenland, where, as already mentioned, Icelandic colonists lived Old Icelandic. for a lengthened period. Our knowledge of its character is almost exclusively derived from the remarkably voluminous literature,[6] dating from the first half of the 12th century, and written in the Latin alphabet, adapted to the special requirements of this language. No traces are found of any older runic literature. Indeed, Old Icelandic possesses only very few runic monuments (about forty-five), all of them almost worthless from a philological point of view. The oldest, the inscriptions on the church door of Valþjófstaður, and that of a tombstone at Hjarðarholt, date from the beginning of the 13th century, and they are consequently later than the oldest preserved manuscripts[7] in the Latin alphabet, some of which are as old as the last half of the 12th century. A small fragment (Cod. AM. 237, fol.) of a Book of Homilies (of which a short specimen is given below) is considered the oldest of all. About contemporary with this is the oldest part of an inventory entitled Reykjaholts máldagi. From the end of the 12th century we possess a fragment (Cod. Reg. old sign. 1812) of the only existing Old Icelandic glossary, and from the first years of the 13th century the Stockholm Book of Homilies (Cod. Holm. 15, 4to), which from a philological point of view is of the greatest importance, chiefly on account of its very accurate orthography, which is especially noticeable in the indication of quantity; from the early part of the same century comes the fragment (Cod. AM. 325, 2, 4to) entitled Á gríp (“abridgment” of the history of Norway), probably a copy of a Norwegian original, also orthographically important. Among later manuscripts we may mention, as philologically interesting, the Annales Regii (Cod. Reg. 2087) from the beginning of the 14th century, orthographically of great value; the rich manuscript of miscellanies, Hauksbók (Codd. AM. 371, 544, 675, 4to), a great part of which is written with Haukr Erlendsson's (d. 1334) own hand; and, above all, three short essays, in which some Icelanders have tried to write a grammatical and orthographical treatise on their own mother-tongue, all three appearing as an appendix to the manuscripts of the Prose Edda. The oldest and most important of these essays (preserved in the Cod. Worm. from the last half of the 14th century) is by an unknown author of about 1140, the second (the oldest known manuscript of which is preserved in the Cod. Ups., c. 1300) is by an unknown author of about 1250; the third (the oldest manuscript in Cod. AM. 748, 4to, of the beginning of the 14th century) is by Snorri's nephew Olafr Hvítaskáld (d. 1259), and is no doubt based partly upon a lost work of the first grammarian of Iceland, Ƿóroddr Rúnameistari (who flourished at the beginning of the 12th century), partly and chiefly upon Priscian and Donatus.[8]

The oldest form of the Icelandic language is, however, not preserved in the above-mentioned earliest manuscripts of the later Form of the language. half of the 12th century, which are written in the language of their own age, but in far later ones of the 13th century, which contain poems by the oldest Icelandic poets, such as the renowned Egill Skallagrímsson (about 950) and the unknown authors of the so-called Edda-songs. In spite of the late date of the manuscripts, the metrical form has been the means of preserving a good deal of the ancient language. But, as already remarked, during the 10th and 11th centuries this dialect differs but little from Norwegian, though in the 12th this is no longer the case.

We may here contrast a specimen of the above-mentioned oldest Icelandic manuscript with an almost contemporary Norwegian one (Cod. AM. 619; see below):—

Icel.—En þat es vitanda, at allt ma andlega merkiasc oc fyllasc í oss, þat es til kirkio bunings eþa þionosto þarf at haua, ef ver liuom sva hreinlega at vér sem verþer at callasc goþs mustere.   Norw.—En þat er vitanda, at allt ma andlega merkiasc oc fyllasc i os, þat er til kirkiu bunings eða til þionasto þarf at hafa, ef vér lifum sva ræinlega, at vér sem verðir at kallasc guðs mysteri.   Engl.—And that is to be known that all that is needed for the decoration of the church or the service may, spiritually, be found and imitated within us, if we live so cleanly that we are worthy to be called God's temple.

Apart from the fact that the language is, generally speaking, archaic, we find in the Icelandic text two of the oldest and most essential characteristics of Icelandic as opposed to Norwegian, viz. the more complete vowel assimilation (þionosto, þionasto; cf. also, e.g. Icel. kǫlloþom, Norw. kallaðum, we called) and the retention of initial h before r (hreinlega, ræinlega), l and n. Other differences, some of which occur at this period, others a little later, are—in Icel. lengthening of a, o, u before lf, lg, lk, lm and lp (as Icel. hálfr, Norw. and oldest Icel. halfr, half); later still, also of a, i, u and y before ng and nk; Icel. ǽ and ey for older ǿ and øy (as in Icel. dǽma, heyra, Norw. and oldest Icel. dǿma, to deem, høyra, to hear); Icel. termination of 2nd plur. of verbs in -ð (þ) or -t, but Norw. often in -r (as Icel. takið, -t, Norw. takir, you take). These points may be sufficient to characterize the language of the earlier “classical” period of Icelandic (about 1150-1350). At the middle of the 13th century the written language undergoes material changes, owing in a great measure, perhaps, to the powerful influence of Snorri Sturloson. Thus in unaccented syllables i now appears for older e, and u (at first only when followed by one or more consonants belonging to the same syllable) for o; the passive ends in -z for -sk. The other differences from Norwegian, mentioned above as occurring later, are now completely established. With the beginning of the 14th century there appear several new linguistic phenomena: a u is inserted between final r and a preceding consonant (as in ríkur, mighty); ǫ (pronounced as an open o) passes into ö (the character ö was not introduced till the 16th century), or before ng, nk into au (as lǫng fiǫll, pronounced laung fiöll); e before ng, nk passes into ei; a little later é passes into ie, and the passive changes its termination from -z, oldest -sk, into -zt (or -zst) (as in kallazt, to be called). The post-classical period of Old Icelandic (1350-1530), which is, from a literary point of view, of but little importance, already shows marked differences that are characteristic of Modern Icelandic; kn has, except in the northern dialects, passed into hn, as in knútr, knot; as early as the 15th century we find ddl for ll and rl (as falla, pronounced faddla, to fall), ddn for nn and rn (as horn, pron. hoddn, horn), and a little later the passive ends in -st, e.g. kallast, to be called.

Although dialectical differences are not altogether wanting, they do not occur to any great extent in the Old Icelandic literary Dialects. language. Thus, in some manuscripts we find ft replaced by fst (oft, ofst, often); in manuscripts from the western part of the island there appears in the 13th and 14th centuries a tendency to change lf, rf into lb, rb (tolf, tolb, twelve; þǫrf, þǫrb, want), &c. To what extent the language of Greenland differed from that of Iceland we cannot judge from the few runic monuments which have come down to us from that colony.

Apart from the comparatively inconsiderable attempts at a grammatical treatment of Old Icelandic in the middle ages which we have Grammatical treatment. mentioned above, grammar as a science can only be said to have begun in the 17th century. The first grammar, treatment written by the Icelander Runolphus Jonas (d. 1654), dates from 1651. His contemporary and compatriot Gudmund Andreae (d. 1654) compiled the first dictionary, which was not, however, edited till 1683 (by the Dane Petrus Resenius, d. 1688). The first scholars who studied Old Icelandic systematically were R. K. Rask (1787-1832), whose works[9] laid the foundation to our knowledge of the language, and his great contemporary Jac. Grimm, in whose Deutsche Grammatik (1819 seq.) particular attention is paid to Icelandic. Those who since the time of Rask and Grimm have principally deserved well of Icelandic grammar are—among the Norwegians, the ingenious and learned P. A. Munch (d. 1863), to whom we really owe the normalized orthography that has hitherto been most in use in editing Old Icelandic texts, and the solid worker at the syntax, M. Nygaard; the learned Icelander K. Gíslason (d. 1891), whose works are chiefly devoted to phonetic researches;[10] the Danish scholars, K. J. Lyngby (d. 1871), the author of an essay which is of fundamental importance in Icelandic orthography and phonetics, and L. F. A. Wimmer, who has rendered great services to the study of the etymology. The latest and greatest Icelandic grammar is by the Swede A. Noreen.[11] As lexicographers the first rank is held by the Icelanders S. Egilsson (d. 1852),[12] G. Vigfússon (d. 1889),[13] and J. Ƿorkelsson (d. 1904),[14] the Norwegian I. Fritzner (d. 1893),[15] the Swede L. Larsson,[16] and the German H. Gering.[17]

2. Modern Icelandic is generally dated from the introduction of the Reformation into Iceland; the book first printed, the New Modern Icelandic. Testament of 1540, may be considered as the earliest Modern Icelandic document. Although, on account of the exceedingly conservative tendency of Icelandic orthography, the language of Modern Icelandic literature still seems to be almost identical with the language of the 17th century, it has in reality undergone a constant and active development, and, phonetically regarded, has changed considerably. Indeed, energetic efforts to bring about an orthography more in accordance with phonetics were made during the years 1835-1847 by the magazine entitled Fjölnir, where we find such authors as Jónas Hallgrímsson and Konr. Gíslason; but these attempts proved abortive. Of more remarkable Form of the language. etymological changes in Modern Icelandic we may note the following: y, ý and ey at the beginning of the 17th century coincided with i, í and ei; the long vowels á, ǽ and ó have passed into the diphthongs au (at least about 1650), ai (about 1700), ou, e.g. mál, language, mǽla, to speak, stǿll, chair; g before i, j is changed into dj (after a consonant) or j (after a vowel), e.g. liggia, to lie, eigi, not; in certain other cases g has passed into gw or w, e.g. lágur, low, ljúga, to lie; initial g before n is silent, e.g. (g)naga, to gnaw; ps, pt have passed into fs, ft; bb, dd, gg are pronounced as bp, dt, gk, and ll, rl, nn, rn now in most positions (not, however, before d, t and s, and in pet names) as dtl, dtn, as fjall, mountain, björn, bear; f before n is now pronounced as bp, as hrafn, raven, &c. Both in vocabulary and syntax we find early, e.g. in the lawbook Jónsbók, printed in 1578(-1580), Danish exercising an important influence, as might be expected from political circumstances. In the 18th century, however, we meet with purist tendencies. As one of the leading men of this century may be mentioned the poet Eggert Ólafsson (d. 1768), whose poems were not printed till 1832. Worthy of mention in the history of Modern Icelandic language are the learned societies which appeared in the same century, of which the first, under the name of “Hið ósýnilega,” was established in 1760. At this time archaic tendencies, going back to the Old Icelandic of the 13th and 14th centuries, were continually gaining ground. In the 19th century the following won especial renown in Icelandic literature: Bjarne Ƿórarensen (d. 1841), Iceland's greatest lyric poet, and Jónas Hallgrímsson (d. 1845), perhaps its most prominent prose-author in modern times.

The dialectical differences in Modern Icelandic are comparatively trifling and chiefly phonetic. The Westland dialect has, for example, Dialects. preserved the Old Icelandic long a, while the other dialects have changed it to the diphthong au; in the Northland dialect initial kn is preserved, in the others changed into hn; in the northern and western parts of the island Old Icelandic hv appears as kv, in a part of south-eastern Iceland as χ, in the other dialects as χw, e.g. hvolpur, whelp. As a matter of curiosity it may be noted that on the western and eastern coasts traces are found of a French-Icelandic language, which arose from the long sojourn of French fishermen there.

Owing to the exclusive interest taken in the ancient language, but little attention is given even now to the grammatical treatment Grammatical treatment. of Modern Icelandic. Some notices of the language of the 17th century may be obtained from the above-mentioned grammar of Runolphus Jonas (1651), and for the language of the 18th from Rask's grammatical works. For the language of our own time there is hardly anything to refer to but F. Jónsson's very short Islandsk Sproglære (1905); cf. also B. Magnússon Ólsen's valuable paper “Zur neuisländischen Grammatik” (Germania, xxvii., 1882). A dictionary of merit was that of Björn Haldorsen (d. 1794), edited in 1814 by Rask. Cleasby-Vigfússon's dictionary mentioned above also pays some attention to the modern language. A really convenient Modern Icelandic dictionary is still wanting, the desideratum being only partly supplied by J. Thorkelsson's excellent Supplement til islandske ordbøger, iii. (1890-1894).

II. Norwegian or Norse.—The Old Norwegian language (till the Reformation) was not, like the modern language, confined Old Norwegian. to Norway and the Faeroes, but was, as already stated, for some time spoken in parts of Ireland and the north of Scotland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney (in the last two groups of islands it continued to survive down to the end of the 18th century), and also in certain parts of western Sweden as at present defined (Bohuslän, Särna in Dalarna, Jämtland and Härjedalen).

Our knowledge of it is due only in a small measure to runic inscriptions, for these are comparatively few in number (about 150), and of trifling importance from a philological point of view, especially as they almost wholly belong to the period between 1050 and 1350,[18] and consequently are contemporary with or at least not much earlier than the earliest literature. The most important are the detailed one of Karlevi on Öland, wherein a Norwegian poet (towards 1000) in so-called “dróttkuǽtt” metre celebrates a Danish chief buried there, and that of Frösö in Jämtland, which (about 1050) mentions the christianizing of the province. The whole literature preserved is written in the Latin alphabet. The earliest manuscripts are not much later than the oldest Old Icelandic ones, and of the greatest interest. On the whole, however, the earliest Norwegian literature is in quality as well as in quantity incomparably inferior to the Icelandic. It amounts merely to about a score of different works, and of these but few are of any literary value. A small fragment (Cod. AM. 655. 4to, Fragm. ix., A, B, C), a collection of legends, no doubt written a little before 1200, is regarded as the earliest extant manuscript. From the very beginning of the 13th century we have the Norwegian Book of Homilies (Cod. AM. 619, 4to) and several fragments of law-books (e.g. the older Gulaþingslaw and the older Eiðsivaþingslaw). Of later manuscripts the so-called legendary Olafssaga (Cod. Delag. 8, fol.), from about 1250, deserves mention. The chief manuscript (Cod. AM. 243 B., fol.) of the principal work in Old Norwegian literature, the Speculum regale or Konungsskuggsiá (“Mirror for Kings,”) is again a little later. The masses of charters which—occurring throughout the whole middle age of Norway from the beginning of the 13th century—afford much information, especially concerning the dialectical differences of the language, are likewise of great philological importance.

As in Old Icelandic so in Old Norwegian we do not find the most primitive forms in the oldest MSS. that have come down to us; for Form of the language. that purpose we must recur to somewhat later ones, containing old poems from times as remote as the days of Ƿorbiorn Hornklofi (end of the 9th century). It has already been stated that the language at this epoch differed so little from other Scandinavian dialects that it could scarcely yet be called by a distinctive name, and also that, as Icelandic separated itself from the Norwegian mother-tongue (about 900), the difference between the two languages was at first infinitely small—as far, of course, as the literary language is concerned. From the 13th century, however, they exhibit more marked differences; for, while Icelandic develops to a great extent independently, Norwegian, owing to geographical and political circumstances, is considerably influenced by the Eastern Scandinavian languages. The most important differences between Icelandic and Norwegian at the epoch of the oldest MSS. (about 1200) have already been noted. The tendency in Norwegian to reduce the use of the so-called u-Umlaut has already been mentioned. On the other hand, there appears in Norwegian in the 13th century another kind of vowel-assimilation, almost unknown to Icelandic, the vowel in terminations being in some degree influenced by the vowel of the preceding syllable. Thus, for instance, we find in some manuscripts (as the above-mentioned legendary Olafssaga) that the vowels e, o, ø and long a, æ are followed in terminations by e, o; i, u, y, and short a, æ, on the other hand, by i, u—as in bøner, prayers, konor, women; but tiðir, times, tungur, tongues. The same fact occurs in certain Old Swedish manuscripts. When Norway had been united later with Sweden under one crown (1319) we meet pure Suecisms in the Norwegian literary language. In addition to this, the 14th century exhibits several differences from the old language: rl, rn are sometimes assimilated into ll, nn—as kall (elder karl), man, konn (korn), corn, prestanner (prestarnir), the priests; i passes into y before r, l—as hyrðir (hirðir), shepherd, lykyl (lykill), key; final -r after a consonant is changed into -ar, -er, -ir, -or, -ur or -ær, sometimes only -a, -e, -æ,—as hester (hestr), horse, bøker (bøkr), books, the names þolleifær (þorleifr), Guðlæifæ (Guðleifr). About the beginning of the 15th century initial kv occurs for old hv (not, however, in pronouns, which take kv only in western Norway), as the local name Ǫviteseið (hvítr, white). During the 15th century, Norway being united with Denmark, and at intervals also with Sweden, a great many Danisms and a few Suecisms are imported into the language. As Suecisms we may mention the termination -in of the 2nd pers. plur. instead of -ir, - (as vilin, you will). The most important Danisms are the following: b, d and g are substituted for p, t and k—as in the local names Nabø (earlier Napa), Tvedæ sogn (þveita sókn); -a in terminations passes into -e—as høre (høyra) to hear, søghe (søkia), to seek; single Danish words are introduced—as iek (ek), I, se (siá), to see; spørge (spyria), to ask, &c. Towards the end of the middle ages the Danish influence shows an immense increase, which marks the gradual decline of Norwegian literature, until at last Norwegian as a literary language is completely supplanted by Danish. During the 15th century Norway has hardly any literature except charters, and as early as the end of that century by far the greatest number of these are written in almost pure Danish. In the 16th century, again, charters written in Norwegian occur only as rare exceptions, and from the Reformation onward, when the Bible and the old laws were translated into Danish, not into Norwegian, Danish was not only the undisputed literary language of Norway, but also the colloquial language of dwellers in towns and of those who had learned to read.

Dialectical differences, as above hinted, occur in great number in the Norwegian charters of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Dialects. Especially marked is the difference between the language of western Norway, which, in many respects, shows a development parallel to that of Icelandic, and the language of eastern Norway, which exhibits still more striking correspondences with contemporary Old Swedish. The most remarkable characteristics of the eastern dialects of this epoch are the following:— a is changed into æ in the pronouns þænn, this, þæt, that, and the particle þær, there (the latter as early as the 13th century), and later on (in the 14th century) also in terminations after a long root syllable—as sendæ, to send, høyræ, to hear (but gera, to do, vita, to know); ia passes (as in Old Swedish and Old Danish) into —as hiærta (lcel. hiarta), heart; y sometimes passes into iu before r, l—as hiurder, shepherd, lykiul, key, instead of hyrðir, lykyl (older still, hirðir, lykill; see above); final -r after a consonant often passes into -ar, -ær, sometimes only into -a, -æ—as prestar (prestr), priest; bøkar (bøkr), books; dat. sing. brøða (brøðr), (to a) brother; tl passes into tsl, sl—as lisla (litla), (the) little, the name Atsle, Asle (Atle); rs gives a “thick” s-sound (written ls)—as Bærdols, genitive of the name Bergþórr; nd, ld are assimilated into nn, ll—as bann (band), band, the local name Vestfoll (Vestfold); and (as far back as the 13th century) traces occur of the vowel assimilation, “tiljævning,” that is so highly characteristic of the modern Norwegian dialects—as vuko, vuku, for vaku (Icel. vǫko, -u), accusative singular of vaka, wake, mykyll for mykill, much. On the other hand, as characteristics of the western dialects may be noted the following: final -r after a consonant passes into -ur, -or, or -ir, -er—as vetur (vetr), winter, rettur (réttr), right, aftor (aftr), again; sl passes into tl—as sytla (sýsla), charge; hw is changed into kw also in pronouns—as kuer (huerr), who, kuassu (huersu), how.

This splitting of the language into dialects seems to have continued to gain ground, probably with greater rapidity as a Norwegian literary language no longer existed. Thus it is very likely that the present dialectical division was in all essentials accomplished about the year 1600; for, judging from the first work on Norwegian dialectology,[19] the Søndfjord (Western Norway) dialect at least possessed at that time most of its present features. A little clog-calendar of the year 1644 seems to prove the same regarding the Valders (Southern Norway) dialect. How far the Old Norwegian dialects on the Faeroes, in Ireland and Scotland, on the Scottish islands, and on the Isle of Man differed from the mother-tongue it is impossible to decide, on account of the few remnants of these dialects which exist apart from local names, viz. some charters (from the beginning of the 15th century onward) from the Faeroes, Shetland and the Orkneys, and a few runic inscriptions from the Orkneys (thirty in number), and the Isle of Man (about thirty in number).[20] These runic inscriptions, however, on account of their imperfect orthography, throw but little light on the subject. Of the Orkney dialect we know at least that initial hl, hn, hr still preserved h in the 13th century—that is, at least two hundred years longer than in Norway.

Old Norwegian grammar has hitherto always been taken up in connexion with Old Icelandic, and confined to notes and appendices Grammatical treatment. inserted in works on Icelandic grammar. A systematic treatise on Old Norwegian grammar is still wanting, with the exception of a short work by the Danish scholar N. M. Petersen (d. 1862), which, although brief and decidedly antiquated, deserves all praise. Among those who in recent days have above all deserved well for the investigation of the Old Norwegian may be mentioned, as to the grammar, the Swede E. Wadstein and the Norwegian M. Hægstad; as to the lexicography, the Norwegian E. Hertzberg, for the law terms, and O. Rygh (d. 1899), for the local names, while the personal names are collected by the Swede E. H. Lind. A most valuable collection of materials for judging of the dialectical varieties exists in the Norwegian charters, carefully and accurately edited by the Norwegian scholars C. Lange (d. 1861), C. R. Unger (d. 1897) and H. J. Huitfeldt-Kaas.[21]

III. Swedish.—The Pre-Reformation language is called Old Swedish.

1. Old Swedish.—The territory of the Old Swedish comprehended—(1) Sweden, except the most northerly part, where Lappish (and Old Swedish. Finnish?) was spoken, the most southerly (Skåne, Halland and Blekinge) and certain parts of western Sweden; (2) extensive maritime tracts of Finland, Esthonia and Livonia, with their surrounding islands; and (3) certain places in Russia, where Swedish was spoken for a considerable time. The oldest but also the most meagre sources of our knowledge of Old Swedish are those words, almost exclusively personal names (nearly one hundred), which were introduced into the Russian language at the foundation of the Russian realm by Swedes (in 862), and which are for the most part somewhat influenced by Russian phonetic laws, preserved in two Russian documents of the years 911 and 944—as Igor (O. Sw. Ingvar), Rurik (Hrørikr), Oleg (Hialge, secondary form of Helge), Olga (Hialga, Helga). Of about the same date, but of an infinitely greater importance, are the runic inscriptions, amounting in number to about two thousand, which have been found cut on stones (rarely wood, metal or other materials) almost all over Sweden, though they occur most frequently (about half of the total number) in the province of Uppland, next to which come Södermanland, with nearly three hundred inscriptions, then Ostergötland, and Gotland, with more than two hundred each. For the most part they occur on tombstones or monuments in memory of deceased relatives; rarely they are public notices. Their form is often metrical, in part at least. Most of them are anonymous, in so far that we do not know the name of the engraver, though, as a rule, the name of the man who ordered them is recorded. Of the engravers named, about seventy in number, the three most productive are Ubir, Bali and Asmundr Karasun, all three principally working in Upland; the first-mentioned name is signed on nearly eighty, the others on about thirty and forty stones respectively. These inscriptions vary very much in age, belonging to all centuries of Old Swedish, but by far the greatest number of them date from the 11th and 12th centuries. From heathen times—as well as from the last two centuries of the middle ages—we have comparatively few. The oldest are perhaps the Ingelstad inscription in Östergötland, the Sparlösa inscription in Våstergötland, and the Gursten one found in the north of Småland, all probably from the end of the 9th century. The rune-stone from Rök in Östergötland probably dates from about A.D. 900. Its inscription surpasses all the others both in length (more than 750 runes) and in the importance of its contents, which are equally interesting as regards philology and the history of culture; it is a fragment (partly in metrical form) of an Old Swedish heroic tale. From about the year 1040 we possess the inscriptions of Asmundr Karasun, and the so-called Ingvar monuments (more than twenty in number), erected most of them in Södermanland, in honour of the men who fell in a great war in eastern Europe under the command of a certain Ingvar; the stones cut by Bali belong to the time c. 1060. Somewhat later are the inscriptions cut by Ubir, and from the beginning of the 12th century is the remarkable inscription on the door-ring of the church of Forsa in Helsingland, containing the oldest Scandinavian statute now preserved, as well as other inscriptions from the same province, written in a particular variety of the common runic alphabet, the so-called “staflösa” (staffless, without the perpendicular staff) runes, as the long genealogical inscription on the Malstad-stone. The inscriptions of the following centuries are of far less philological interest, because after the 13th century there exists another and more fruitful source for Old Swedish, viz. a literature in the proper sense of the word. Of runic literature nothing has been preserved to our days. The literature in the Latin letters is both in quality and extent incomparably inferior to Old Icelandic, though it, at least in quantity, considerably surpasses Old Norwegian. In age, however, it is inferior to both of them, beginning only in the 13th century. The oldest of the extant manuscripts is a fragment of the Older Västgötalaw, written about the year 1250. A complete codex (Cod. Holm. B 59) of the same law dates from about 1285, and is philologically of the greatest importance. Of other works of value from a philological point of view we only mention a codex of the Södermannalaw (Cod. Holm. B 53) of about 1325, a codex of the Upplandslaw (Cod. Ups. 12), the two manuscripts containing a collection of legends generally named Cod. Bureanus (written a little after 1350) and Cod. Bildstenianus (between 1420 and 1450), and the great Oxenstiernian manuscript, which consists chiefly of collection of legends written for the most part in 1385. The very numerous Old Swedish charters, from 1343 downwards, are also of great importance.[22]

Old Swedish, during its earliest pre-literary period (800-1225), Form of the language. retains quite as original a character as contemporary Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian. The first part of the inscription of the Rökstone running thus—

AFT UAMUÞ STĄNTA RUNAR ÞAR . IN UARIN FAÞI FAÞIR AFT FAIKIĄN SUNU,[23]

and probably pronounced—

aft Wāmōð stąnda rūnaR þāR; en Warinn fāði faðiR aft fæighiąn sunu,

would, no doubt, have had the same form in contemporary Icelandic, except the last word, which would probably have had the less original form sun. The formal changes of the Swedish language during this period are, generally speaking, such as appear about the same time in all the members of the group—as the change of soft R into common r (the Rök-stone runaR, later runar, runes; this appeared earliest after dental consonants, later after an accented vowel), and the change of into st (in the 10th century raisþi, later ræisti, raised); or they are, at least, common to it with Norwegian—as the dropping of h before l, n and r (in the 10th century hrauR, younger, rør, cairn), and the changing of nasal vowels (the long ones latest) into non-nasalized. But the case is altogether different during what we may call the classical period of Old Swedish (1225-1375), the time of the later runic inscriptions and the oldest literature. During this period the language is already distinctly separate from the (literary) Icelandic-Norwegian (though not yet very much from Danish). The words of the Older Västgötalaw

FALDER KLOCKÆ NIDER I HOVOÞ MANNI, BÖTI SOPCN MARCHUM ÞRIM, EN HAN FAR BANÆ AF—[24]

would in contemporary Icelandic be—

felir klukka niðr i hǫfuð mauni, bǽti sókn mǫrkum þrim, ef hann fǽr bana af.

These few words exhibit instances of the following innovations in Swedish:—d is inserted between ll (nn) and a following r (as b between m and l, r, and p between m and t, n—as hambrar, Icel. hamrar, hammers, sampt, Icel. samt, together with); an auxiliary vowel is inserted between final r and a preceding consonant; a in terminations is often changed into æ; a u in the final syllable causes no change of a preceding a; the present tense takes the vowel of the infinitive (and the preterit subjunctive that of preterit indicative plural). Other important changes, appearing at the same time, but probably, partly at least, of a somewhat older date, are the following:—all diphthongs are contracted (as ø̄gha, Icel. auga, eye; drø̄ma, Icel. dreyma, to dream; stēn, Icel. steinn, stone—traces of which we find as early as the 12th century); é has passed into ǣ (as knǣ, Icel. kné, knee); ia into , as in Eastern Norwegian (as hiærta, Icel. hiarta, heart); iu into ȳ after r, and a consonant +l (as flȳgha, Icel. fliúga, to fly); the forms of the three persons singular of verbs have assimilated (except in the so-called strong preterit); the 2nd person plural ends in -in for -, -. The transition to the 14th century is marked by important changes:—short y, e.g., passed into ø in many positions (as dør for dyr, door, &c.); there appeared a so-called law of vowel balance, according to which the vowels i and u are always found in terminations after a short root syllable, and—at least when no consonant follows—e and o after a long one (as Guþi, to God, til salu, for sale, but i garþe, in the court, for visso, assuredly), and the forms of the dative and the accusative of pronouns gradually became the same. The number of borrowed words is as yet very limited, and is chiefly confined to ecclesiastical words of Latin and Greek origin, introduced along with Christianity (as kors, cross, brēf, epistle, skōle, school, præster, priest, almōsa, alms). At the middle of the 14th century the literary language undergoes a remarkable reform, developing at the same time to a “riksspråk,” a uniform language, common to a certain degree to the whole country. The chief characteristics of this later Old Swedish (1375-1526) are the following:—the long a has passed into å (that is, an open o), and io (except before g, k, rdh, rt) into (as siø, sea, lake), g and k (sk) before palatal vowels are softened into dj and tj (stj); k and t in unaccented syllables often pass into gh, dh (as Swērighe for Swērike, Sweden, lītedh for lītit, a little); the articles thæn (or hin), the, and (a little later) en, a, come into use; the dual pronouns vanish; the relative ær, that, is changed with sum; the present participle takes a secondary form in -s (as gangandis, beside gangande, going). A little later the following changes appear:—a short vowel is lengthened before a single consonant, first when the consonant belongs to the same syllable (as hat, hate), afterwards also when it belongs to the following one (as hata, to hate); an auxiliary vowel is inserted between l or n and a preceding consonant (as gavel, gable, øken, desert); short i often passes into e (as leva, to live); th passes into t; a new conjugation is formed which has no infinitive termination, but doubles the sign of the preterit (as , bōdde, bōtt, to dwell, dwelt, dwelt). Owing to the political and commercial state of the country the language at this period is deluged with borrowed words of Low German origin, mostly social and industrial terms, such as the great number of verbs in -ēra (e.g. hantēra, to handle), the substantives in -erī (røverī, robbery) -inna (førstinna, princess), -hēt (fromhēt, piety), be- (betala, to pay), and a great many others (klēn, weak, smaka, to taste, grōver, big, pung, purse, tukt, discipline, brūka, to use, twist, quarrel, støvel, boot, arbēta, to work, frōkoster, lunch, &c.). Owing to the political circumstances, we find towards the end of the period a very powerful Danish influence, which extends also to phonetics and etymology, so that, for example, nearly all the terminal vowels are supplanted by the uniform Danish e, the hard consonants p, t, k by b, d, g as in Danish, the second person plural of the imperative ends in -er, besides -en (as tagher, for taghen, older takin).

Dialectical differences incontestably occur in the runic inscriptions as well as in the literature; in the former, however, most of them Dialects. are hidden from our eyes by the character of the writing, which is, from a phonetic point of view, highly unsatisfactory, indicating the most different sounds by the same sign (for example, o, u, y and ö are denoted by one and the same rune); in the literature again they are reduced to a minimum by the awakening desire to form a uniform literary language for the whole country, and by the literary productivity and consequent predominant influence of certain provinces (as Östergötland). Only one distinct Forngutniska. dialect has been handed down to us, that of the island of Gotland, which differs so essentially from the Old Swedish of the mainland that it has with good reason been characterized, under the name Forngutniska, as in a certain sense a separate language. Materials for its study are very abundant: on one hand we possess more than two hundred runic inscriptions, among them a very remarkable one from the beginning of the 13th century, counting upwards of four hundred runes, cut on a font (now in Aakirkeby on the island of Bornholm), and representing the life of Christ in a series of pictures and words; on the other hand a literature has been preserved consisting of a runic calendar from 1328, the law of the island (the oldest manuscript is from about 1350), a piece of traditional history and a gild statue. The language is distinguished from the Old Swedish of the mainland especially by the following characteristics:—the old diphthongs are preserved (e.g. auga, eye, droyma, to dream, stain, stone), and a triphthong has arisen by the change of iu into iau (as fliauga, to fly); the long vowels æ and ø have passed into ē and ȳ (as mēla, to speak, dȳma, to deem); short o rarely occurs except before r, being in other positions changed into u; w is dropped before r (as raipi, wrath); the genitive singular of feminines in -a ends in -ur for -u (as kirkiur, of the church). Owing to the entire absence of documentary evidence it is impossible to determine how far the dialects east of the Baltic, which no doubt had a separate individuality, differed from the mother-tongue.

The first to pay attention to the study of Old Swedish[25] was the Swedish savant J. Buraeus (d. 1652), who by several works (from The study of Old Swedish. 1599 onwards) called attention to and excited a lively interest in the runic monuments, and, by his edition (1634) of the excellent Old Swedish work Um Styrilse Kununga ok Høfþinga, in Old Swedish literature also. His no longer extant Specimen Primariae Linguae Scantzianae (1636) gave but a very short review of Old Swedish inflections, but is remarkable as the first essay of its kind, and is perhaps the oldest attempt in modern times at a grammatical treatment of any old Germanic language. The study of runes was very popular in the 17th century; M. Celsius (d. 1679) deciphered the “staffless” runes and J. Hadorph (d. 1693), who also did good work in editing Old Swedish texts, copied more than a thousand runic inscriptions, published by J. Göransson as Bautil (1750). During the 18th century, again, Old Swedish was almost completely neglected; but in the 19th century the study of runes was well represented by the collection (Runurkunder, 1833) of the Swede Liljegren (d. 1837), and by the Norwegian S. Bugge's ingenious interpretation and grammatical treatment of some of the most remarkable inscriptions, especially that of Rök. Old Swedish literature has also been made the object of grammatical researches. A first outline of a history of the Swedish language is to be found in the work of N. M. Petersen (1830), and a scheme of an Old Swedish grammar in P. A. Munch's essay, Fornswenskans och Fornnorskans språkbyggnad (1849); but Old Swedish grammar was never treated as an independent branch of science until the appearance of J. E. Rydqvist's (d. 1877) monumental work Svenska språkets lagar (in 6 vols., 1850-1883), which was followed in Sweden by a whole literature on the same subject. Thus phonetics, which were comparatively neglected by Rydqvist, have been investigated with great success, especially by L. F. Läffler and A. Kock; while the other parts of grammar have been treated of above all by K. F. Söderwall. His principal work, Ordbok öfver Svenska medeltidsspråket (1884 sq.), gives the list of words in the later Old Swedish language, and—taken along with the Ordbok till samlingen af Sveriges gamla lagar (1877), by C. J. Schlyter, the well-known editor of Old Swedish texts, which contains the vocabulary of the oldest literature—it worthily meets the demand for an Old Swedish dictionary. An Old Swedish grammar, answering the requirements of modern philology, is edited by A. Noreen.[26]

2. Modern Swedish.—The first complete translation of the Bible, edited in 1541 by the brothers Olaus and Laurentius Petri, and generally called the Bible of Gustavus I., may be regarded Modern Swedish. as the earliest important monument of this. Owing to religious and political circumstances, and to the learned influence of humanism, theological and historic-political works preponderate in the Swedish literature of the following period, which therefore affords but scanty material for philological research. It is not until the middle of the 17th century that Swedish literature adequately exemplifies the language, for at that period literature first began to be cultivated as a fine art, and its principal representatives, such as Stiernhielm, Columbus and Spegel, were in reality the first to study it as a means of expression and to develop its resources. Amongst the authors of the 18th century we have to mention in the first place Dalin, who was to some extent the creator of the prose style of that epoch; while of the end of the century Kellgren and Bellman are the most noteworthy examples, representing the higher and the more familiar style of poetry respectively. The language of the 19th century, or at any rate of the middle of it, is best represented in the works of Wallin and Tegnér, which, on account of their enormous circulation, have had a greater influence than those of any other authors.

As to the language itself the earliest Modern Swedish texts, as Gustavus I.'s Bible, differ considerably from the latest Old Swedish Form of the language. ones.[27] We find a decided tendency to exterminate Danisms and reintroduce native and partially antiquated forms. At the same time there appear several traces of a later state of the language: all genitives (singular and plural), e.g., end in -s, which in earlier times was the proper ending of certain declensions only. In spite of the archaistic efforts of many writers, both in forms and in vocabulary, the language nevertheless underwent rapid changes during the 16th and 17th centuries. Thus sj and stj (original as well as derived from sk before a palatal vowel) assimilate into a simple sh- sound; dj (original as well as derived from g before a palatal vowel), at least at the end of the 17th century, dropped its d-sound (compare such spellings as diufwer, giättar, envogé, for jufver, udder, jättar, giants, envoyé, envoy); hj passes into j (such spellings are found as jort for hjort, hart, and hjärpe for järpe, hazel grouse); b and p inserted in such words as himblar, heavens, hambrar, hammers, jämpn, even, sampt, together with, are dropped; the first person plural of the verb takes the form of the third person (as vi fara, foro, for vi farom, forom, we go, went); by the side of the pronoun I, you, there arises a secondary form Ni, in full use in the spoken language about 1650; the adjective gradually loses all the case-inflections; in substantives the nominative, dative and accusative take the same form as early as the middle of the 17th century; in the declension with suffixed article the old method of expressing number and case both in the substantive and the article is changed, so that the substantive alone takes the number-inflection and the article alone the case-ending; neuter substantives ending in a vowel, which previously had no plural ending, take the plural ending -n, some -er—as bi-n, bees, bageri-er, bakeries. About the year 1700 the Old Swedish inflection may, in general, be considered as almost completely given up, although a work of such importance in the history of the language as Charles XII.'s Bible (so-called) of 1703, by a kind of conscious archaism has preserved a good many of the old forms. To these archaistic tendencies of certain authors at the end of the 17th century we owe the great number of Old Swedish and Icelandic borrowed words then introduced into the language—as fager, fair, härja, to ravage, later, manners, snille, genius, tarna, girl, tima, to happen, &c. In addition to this, owing to humanistic influence, learned expressions were borrowed from Latin during the whole 16th and 17th centuries; and from German, chiefly at the Reformation and during the Thirty Years' War, numberless words were introduced—as tapper, brave, prakt, magnificence, hurtig, brisk, &c.; among these may be noted especially a great number of words beginning in an-, er-, för- and ge- Owing to the constantly increasing political and literary predominance of France, French words were largely borrowed in the 17th century, and to an equally great extent in the 18th; such are affär, business, respekt, respect, talang, talent, charmant, charming, &c. In the 19th century, especially about the middle of it, we again meet with conscious and energetic efforts after purism both in the formation of new words and in the adoption of words from the old language (id, diligence, mäla, to speak, fylking, battle-array, &c.), and from the dialects (bliga, to gaze, flis, flake, skrabbig, bad, &c.). Consequently the present vocabulary differs to a very great extent from that of the literature of the 17th century. As for the sounds and grammatical forms, on the other hand, comparatively few important changes have taken place during the last two centuries. In the 18th century, however, the aspirates dh and gh passed into d and g (after l and r into j)—as lag for lagh, law, bröd for brödh, bread; hw passed into v (in dialects already about the year 1400)—as valp for hwalper, whelp; lj likewise into j—thus ljuster, leister, occurs written juster. In our time rd, rl, rn, rs and rt are passing into simple sounds (“supradental” d, l, n, s and t), while the singular of the verbs is gradually supplanting the plural. A vigorous reform, slowly but firmly carried on almost uniformly during all periods of the Swedish language, is the throwing back of the principal accent to the beginning of the word in cases where previously it stood nearer the end, a tendency that is characteristic of all the Scandinavian languages, but no doubt especially of Swedish. In the primitive Scandinavian age the accent was removed in most simple words; the originally accented syllable, however, preserved a musically high pitch and stress. Thus there arose two essentially different accentuations—the one, with unaccentuated final syllable, as in Icel. stígr (Gr. στείχεις), thou goest, the comparative betre (cf. Gr. θάσσων from ταχύς), better, the other, with secondary stress and high pitch on the final, as in Icel. pret. plur. buðo (Sans. bubudhús), we bade, part. pret. bitenn (Sans. bhinnás), bitten. The same change afterwards took place in those compound words that had the principal accent on the second member, so that such contrasts as German úrteil and erteílen were gradually brought into conformity with the former accentuation. At the present day it is quite exceptionally (and chiefly in borrowed words of later date) that the principal accent in Swedish is on any other syllable than the first, as in lekámen, body, välsígna, to bless.

The scientific study of Modern Swedish[28] dates from Sweden's glorious epoch, the last half of the 17th century. The first regular The study of Modern Swedish. Swedish grammar was written in 1684 (not edited till 1884) in Latin by E. Aurivillius; the first in Swedish is by N. Tiällman (1696). But little, however, of value was produced before the great work of Rydqvist mentioned above, which, although chiefly dealing with the old language, throws a flood of light on the modern also. Among the works of late years we must call special attention to the researches into the history of the language by K. F. Söderwall, F. A. Tamm, A. Kock and E. Hellquist. The grammar of the modern language is, as regards certain parts, treated in a praiseworthy manner by, among others, J. A. Aurén, J. A. Lyttkens and F. A. Wulff (in several common works), E. Tegnér, G. Cederschiöld and F. A. Tamm (d. 1905). A good though short account of phonology and inflections is given in H. Sweet's essay on “Sounds and Forms of Spoken Swedish” (Trans. Phil. Soc., 1877-1879). A comprehensive and detailed grammar (Vårt språk) has been edited (since 1903) by A. Noreen. Attempts to construct a dictionary were made in the 16th century, the earliest being the anonymous Variarum rerum vocabula cum Sueca interpretatione, in 1538, and the Synonymorum libellus by Elaus Petri Helsingius, in 1587, both of which, however, followed German originals. The first regular dictionary is by H. Spegel, 1712; and in 1769 J. Ihre (d. 1780), probably the greatest philological genius of Sweden, published his Glossarium Suiogoticum, which still remains one of the most copious Swedish dictionaries in existence. In the 19th century the diligent lexicographer A. F. Dalin published a useful work. The Swedish Academy has been editing (since 1893) a gigantic dictionary on about the same plan as Dr Murray's New English Dictionary. Another such large work is Sverges Ortnamn (the local names of Sweden) edited since 1906 by the Royal Committee for investigation of the Swedish place-names.

IV. Danish, like Swedish, is divided into the two great Pre- and Post-Reformation epochs of Old and Modern Danish.

I. Old Danish.—The territory of Old Danish included not only the present Denmark, but also the southern Swedish provinces of Old Danish. Halland, Skåne and Blekinge, the whole of Schleswig, and, as stated above, for a short period also a great part of England, and parts of Normandy. The oldest monuments of the language are runic inscriptions, altogether about 225 in number.[29] The oldest of them go as far back as to the beginning of the 9th century, the Snoldelev-stone, for instance, on Sealand, and the Flemløse-stone on Fünen. From about the year 900 date the very long inscriptions of Tryggevaelde (Zealand) and Glavendrup (Fünen); from the 10th century we have the stones of Jaellinge (Jutland), in memo of two of the oldest historical kings of Denmark (Gorm and Harald); while from about 1000 we have a stone at Dannevirke (Schleswig), raised by the conqueror of England, Sven Tjuguskaegg. Relics of about the same age are the words that were introduced by the Danes into English, the oldest of which date from the end of the 9th century, the time of the first Danish settlement in England; most of these are to be found in the early English work Ormulum.[30] No Danish literature arose before the 13th century. The oldest manuscript that has come down to us dates from the end of that century, written in runes and containing the law of Skåne. From about the year 1300 we possess a manuscript written in Latin characters and containing the so-called Valdemar's and Erik's laws of Zealand, the Flensborg manuscript of the law of Jutland, and a manuscript of the municipal laws of Flensborg. These three manuscripts represent three different dialects—that, namely, of Skåne, Halland and Blekinge, that of Zealand and the other islands, and that of Jutland and Schleswig. There existed no uniform literary Dialects. language in the Old Danish period, although some of the most important works of the 15th century, such as the clerk Michael's Poems (since 1496) and the Rhymed Chronicle (the first book printed in Danish, in 1495), on account of their excellent diction, contributed materially to the final preponderance of their dialect, that of Zealand, towards the Reformation.

As to the form of the language, it hardly differs at all during the period between A.D. 800 and 1200 from Old Swedish. It is only in Form of the language. the oldest literature that we can trace any marked differences; these are not very important, and are generally attributable to the fact that Danish underwent a little earlier the same changes that afterwards took place in Swedish (e.g. h in hw and hj in Danish was mute as early as the end of the 14th century. The laws referred to above only agree in differing from the Swedish laws in the following points: the nominative already takes the form of the accusative (as kalf, calf, but Old Sw. nom. kalver, acc. kalf); the second person plural ends in -æ (as køpæ, but Old Sw. køpin, you buy); in the subjunctive no differences are expressed between persons and numbers. Among themselves, on the contrary, they show considerable differences; the law of Skåne most nearly corresponds with the Swedish laws, those of Zealand keep the middle place, while the law of Jutland exhibits the most distinctive individuality. The Skåne law, e.g., retains the vowels a, i, u in terminations, which otherwise in Danish have become uniformly æ; the same law inserts b and d between certain consonants (like Old Sw.), has preserved the dative, and in the present tense takes the vowel of the infinitive; the law of Jutland, again, does not insert b and d, and has dropped the dative, while the present tense (undergoing an Umlaut) has by no means always accepted the vowel of the infinitive; in all three characteristics the laws of Zealand fluctuate. After 1350 we meet an essentially altered language, in which we must first note the change of k, p, t after a vowel into g, b, d (as tag, roof, løbe, to run, æde, to eat); th passes into t (as ting, thing), gh into w (as law for lagh, gild) or into i (as vei for wægh, way); ld, nd are pronounced like ll, nn; s is the general genitive ending in singular and plural, &c. The vocabulary, which in earlier times only borrowed a few, and those mostly ecclesiastical, words, is now—chiefly owing to the predominant influence of the Hanse towns—inundated by German words, such as those beginning with be-, bi-, ge-, for- and und-, and ending in -hēd, and a great number of others, as blīve, to become, skē, to happen, frī, free, krīg, war, buxer, pantaloons, ganske, quite, &c.

An Old Danish grammar is still wanting, and the preparatory studies which exist are, although excellent, but few in number, Grammatical treatment. being chiefly essays by the Danes K. J. Lyngby and L. F. A. Wimmer. N. M. Petersen's treatise Det Danske, Norske, og Svenska sprogs historie, vol. i. (1829), one of the first works that paid any attention to Old Danish, which till then had been completely neglected, is now surpassed by V. Dahlerup's Geschichte der dänischen Sprache (1904). A dictionary on a large scale covering the whole of Old Danish literature, except the very oldest, by O. Kalkar, has been in course of publication since 1881; older and smaller is C. Molbech's Dansk Glossarium (1857-1866).

2. Modern Danish.—The first important monument of this is the translation of the Bible, by C. Pedersen, Peder Palladius and others, Modern Danish sources. the so-called Christian III.'s Bible (1550), famous for the unique purity and excellence of its language, the dialect of Zealand, then incontestably promoted to be the language of the kingdom. The first secular work deserving of the same praise is Vedel's translation of Saxo (1575). The succeeding period until 1750 offers but few works in really good Danish; as perfectly classical, however, we have to mention the so-called Christian V.'s Law of Denmark (1683). For the rest, humanism has stamped a highly Latin-French character on the literature, striking even in the works of the principal writer of this period, Holberg. But about the year 1750 there begins a new movement, characterized by a reaction against the language of the preceding period and by purist tendencies, or, at least, efforts to enrich the language with new-formed words (not seldom after the German pattern), as omkreds, periphery, selvstændighed, independence, valgsprog, devise, digter, poet. The leading representatives of these tendencies were Eilschow and Sneedorf. From their time Danish may be said to have acquired its present essential features, though it cannot be denied that several later authors, as J. Ewald and Öhlenschläger, have exercised a considerable influence on the poetical style. Form of the language. As the most important differences between the grammatical forms of the 18th and 19th centuries on one hand and those of the 16th and 17th centuries on the other, may be noted the following: most neuter substantives take a plural ending; those ending in a vowel form their plural by adding -r (as riger, for older rige, plural of rige, kingdom), and many of those ending in a consonant by adding -e (as huse for hus, of hus, house); substantives ending in -ere drop their final -e (as dommer for dommere, judge); the declension with suffixed article becomes simplified in the same way as in Swedish; the plural of verbs takes the singular form (as drak for drukke, we drank); and the preterit subjunctive is supplanted by the infinitive (as var for vaare, were). The first Modern Danish grammar is by E. Pontoppidan, 1668, but Grammatical treatment. in Latin; the first in Danish is by the famous Peder Syv, 1685. The works of the self-taught J. Højsgaard (e.g. Accentueret og raisonneret grammatica, 1747) possess great merit, and are of especial importance as regards accent and syntax. The earlier part of the 19th century gave us Rask's grammar (1830). A thoroughly satisfactory Modern Danish grammar does not exist; the most detailed is that by K. Mikkelsen (1894). The vocabulary of the 16th and 17th centuries is collected in Kalkar's Ordbog, mentioned above; that of the 18th and 19th centuries in the voluminous dictionary of Videnskabernes Selskab (1793-1905), and in C. Molbech's Dansk Ordbog (2nd ed., 1859); that of our days in B. T. Dahl's and H. Hammer's Dansk Ordbog for folket (1903 seq.).

As already mentioned, Danish at the Reformation became the language of the literary and educated classes of Norway and Dano-Norwegian. remained so for three hundred years, although it cannot be denied that many Norwegian authors even during this period wrote a language with a distinct Norwegian colour, as for instance the prominent prose-stylist Pcder Claussøn Friis (d. 1614), the popular poet Petter Dass (d. 1708), and, in a certain degree, also the two literary masters of the 18th century, Holberg and Wessel. But it is only since 1814, when Norway gained her independence, that we can clearly perceive the so-called Dano-Norwegian gradually developing as a distinct offshoot of the general Danish language. The first representatives of this new language are the writer of popular life M. Hansen (d. 1842), the poets H. Wergeland (d. 1845) and J. S. C. Welhaven (d. 1873), but above all the tale-writers P. C. Asbjørnsen (d. 1885) and J. Moe (d. 1882). More recently it has been further developed, especially by the great poets Ibsen (d. 1906) and Bjørnson and the novelist Lie; and it has been said, not without reason, to have attained its classical perfection in the works of the first-named author. This language differs from Danish particularly in its vocabulary, having adopted very many Norwegian provincial words (more than 7000), less in its inflections, but to a very great extent in its pronunciation. The most striking differences in this respect are the following: Norwegian p, t, k Form of the language. answer to Danish b, d, g in cases where they are of later date (see above)—as løpe, Danish løbe, to run, liten, D. liden, little, bak, D. bag, back; to Danish k, g before palatal vowels answer Norwegian tj, j; r (point-trill, not back-trill as in Danish) is assimilated in some way with following t(d), l, n, and s into so-called supradental sounds; both the primitive Scandinavian systems of accentuation are still kept separate from a musical point of view, in opposition to the monotonous Danish. There are several other characteristics, nearly all of which are points of correspondence with Swedish.[31] Dano-Norwegian is in our days grammatically and lexically treated, especially by H. Falk and A. Torp (e.g. Etymologisk Ordbog, 1903, 1906).

At the middle of the 19th century, however, far more advanced pretensions were urged to an independent Norwegian language. By the Norwegian-Norwegian. study of the Modern Norwegian dialects and their mother language, Old Norwegian, the eminent philologist J. Aasen (d. 1896) was led to undertake the bold project of constructing, by the study of these two sources, and on the basis of his native dialect (Søndmøre), a Norwegian-Norwegian (“Norsk-Norsk”) language, the so-called “Landsmål.” In 1853 he exhibited a specimen of it, and, thanks to such excellent writers as Aasen himself, the poets O. Vinje and K. Janson, the novelists A. Garborg and J. Tvedt, as well as a zealous propagandise of the society Det Norske Samlag (founded in 1868) there has since arisen a valuable though not very large literature in the “Landsmål.” Since 1892 it is also legally authorized to be, alternatively, used in the church and by teachers of the public schools. But still it is nowhere colloquially used. Its grammatical structure and vocabulary are exhibited in Aasen's Norsk grammatik (1864) and Norsk Ordbog (1873), supplemented by H. Ross's Norsk Ordbog (1895; with supplement, 1902). The local names of Norway are treated in the large work Norske Gaardnavne, by O. Rygh (1897 seq.).

Scandinavian Dialects.—As above remarked, the Scandinavian dialects are not grouped, so far as their relationship is concerned, Dialects. as might be expected judging from the literary languages. Leaving out of account the Icelandic dialects and those of the Faeroes, each of which constitutes separate group, the remainder may be thus classified:—

1. West Norwegian Dialects—spoken on the western coast of Norway between Langesund and Molde.

2. North Scandinavian—the remaining Norwegian and the Swedish dialects of Uppland, Västmanland, Dalarna, Norrland, Finland and Russia.

3. The dialects on the island of Gotland.

4. Middle Swedish—spoken in the rest of Sweden, except the southernmost parts (No. 5).

5. South Scandinavian—spoken in the greater part of Småland and Halland, the whole of Skåne, Blekinge and Denmark, and the Danish-speaking part of Schleswig. This group is distinctly divided mto three smaller groups—the dialects of southern Sweden (with the island of Bornholm), of the Danish islands and of Jutland (and Schleswig).

The study of the Modern Scandinavian dialects[32] has been very unequally prosecuted. Hardly anything has been done towards the investigation of the Icelandic dialects, while those of the Faeroes have been studied chiefly by V. U. Hammershaimb, J. Jakobsen, and A. C. Evensen. The Norwegian dialects have been thoroughly examined, first by Aasen, whose works give a general account of them; then by J. Storm, who has displayed an unwearying activity, especially in the minute investigation of their phonetic constitution, to which Aasen had paid but scant attention; in our own days by H. Ross and A. B. Larsen.[33] For the study of Danish dialects less has been done. Molbech's Dialect-Lexicon of 1841 is very deficient. The Schleswig dialect has been admirably treated of by E. Hagerup (1854). K. J. Lyngby (1858) and others. H. F. Feilberg's great dictionary (1886 seq.) of the dialect of lutland is in every respect an excellent work. A dialect map on a large scale, and containing the whole territory, is (since 1898) being edited by V. Bennike and M. Kristensen. Finally, several dialect monographs by P. K. Thorsen may be mentioned as being especially valuable. A phonetic alphabet for the purpose of dialectal investigations is worked out by O. Jespersen and published in the journal Dania, vol. i. (1890). There is, however, no country in which the dialects have been and are studied with greater zeal and more fruitful results than in Sweden during the last hundred and fifty years. Archbishop E. Benzelius the younger (d. 1743) made collections of dialect words, and on his work is based the dialectical dictionary of Ihre of 1766. An excellent work considering its age is S. Hof's Dialectus Vestrogothica, (1772). The energy and zeal of C. Säve (d. 1876; essays on the dialects of Gotland and Dalarna) inspired these studies with extraordinary animation at the middle of the 19th century; in 1867 J. E. Rietz (d. 1868) published a voluminous dialect dictionary; the number of special essays, too, increased yearly. From 1872 so-called “landsmålsföreningar” (dialect societies) were founded among the students at the universities of Upsala, Lund and Helsingfors (thirteen at Upsala alone) for a systematic and thorough investigation of dialects. We find remarkable progress in scientific method—especially with regard to phonetics—in the constantly increasing literature; special mention may be made of the detailed descriptions of the dialects of Värmland, Gotland and Dalarna by A. Noreen (1877 seq.), A. F. Freudenthal's and H. Vendell's monographs of the Finnish and Esthonian-Swedish dialects, as well as O. F. Hultman's (1894) and B. Hesselman's (1902 seq.) excellent comparative treatment of certain dialect groups. Since 1879 the Swedish dialect societies have published a magazine on a comprehensive plan, De Svenska Landsmålen, edited by J. A. Lundell, who has invented for this purpose an excellent phonetic alphabet (partially based on C. J. Sundevall's work, Om phonetiska bokstäfver, 1855).  (A. No.) 


  1. For details see A. Noreen, “Geschichte der nordischen Sprachen” (Grundriss der germanischen Philologie, 2nd ed., 1897).
  2. V. Thomsen, The Relations between Ancient Russia and Scandinavia (1877).
  3. W. Thomsen, Über den Einfluss der Germ. Sprachen auf die Finnisch-Lappischen (1870); E. N. Setälä, “Zur Herkunft und Chronologie der älteren germanischen Lehnwörter” in Journal de la Société Finno-ougrienne, xviii. (1906).
  4. See the plates in G. Stephens's Handbook of Old Northern Runic Monuments (1884), and S. Bugge's Norges Inskrifter med de ældre Runer I. (1891-1903).
  5. For the interpretations we are principally indebted to Prof. S. Bugge's ingenious investigations, who in 1865 satisfactorily succeeded in deciphering the inscription of the golden horn, and by this means gained a fixed starting-point for further researches. A short review of their most important results is given by A. Noreen, Altisländische Grammatik (3rd ed., 1903), appendix.
  6. A complete catalogue of the literature edited hitherto is given by Th. Möbius, Catalogus Librorum Islandicorum et Norvegicorum Aetatis Mediae (1856), and Verzeichniss der altisländischen und altnorwegischen . . . von 1855 bis 1879 erschienenen Schriften (1880). Cf. Iceland.
  7. An account of the oldest Icelandic manuscripts (to about 1230) is given by J. Hoffory in the Gött. Gel. Anz. (1884), p. 478 sq.
  8. A short review of the most important Old Icelandic manuscripts (and their editions), classed according to subjects, is given by O. Brenner, Altnordisches Handbuch, pp. 13 sq. The principal collections of manuscripts are—(1) the Arnamagnaean (AM.) in Copenhagen, founded by Arni Magnússon (d. 1730); (2) the collection of the Royal Library (Reg.) in Copenhagen, founded by T. Torfaeus (d. 1719) and Brynjólfr Sveinsson (d. 1674); (3) the Delagardian collection (Delag. or Ups.) at Upsala, founded, in 1651 by Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie; (4) the Stockholm collection (Holm.), founded by Jón Rugman (in 1662) and Jón Eggertson (in 1682).
  9. E.g. Veiledning til det Islandske sprog (1811); in a new, much improved Swedish edition, Anvisning til Isländskan (1818).
  10. Especially Um frumparta islenzkrar túngu i fornöld (1846).
  11. Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen (1884), 3 Aufl. (1903).
  12. Lexicon poeticum (1854-1860).
  13. An Icelandic-English Dictionary, based on the MS. collections of the late R. Cleasby (1869-1874).
  14. Supplement til Islandske ordbøger (1876, 1879-1885 and 1899).
  15. Ordbog over det Gamle Norske sprog (1862-1867, new ed. 1883, seq.).
  16. Ordfórrådeti de älsta isländska handskrifterna (1891).
  17. Vollständiges Wörterbuch zu den Liedern der Edda (1903).
  18. The latest rune-stones are from the end of the 14th century. Owing to influence of the learned, such stones appear again in the 17th century, e.g. in Telemarken.
  19. C. Jensen's Norsk dictionarium eller glosebog (1646).
  20. See P. M. C. Kermode, Manx Crosses (1907).
  21. Diplomatarium Norvegicum (1847, sqq.), 16 vols. have appeared.
  22. The Old Swedish monuments are for the most part published in the following collections:—Svenska fornskriftsällskapets samlingar, 132 parts (1844-1907); C. J. Schlyter, Samling af Sveriges gamla lagar, vols. i.-vii. and x.-xii. (1827-1869); Svenskt Diplomatarium (6 vols., 1829-1878, new series, 4 vols., 1875-1904).
  23. In memory of Wámód these runes stand; and Warinn, his father, wrote them in memory of his son (by destiny) condemned to death.
  24. If the bell fall down on anybody's head, the parish pays a fine of three marks should he die from it.
  25. See A. Noreen, “Aperçu de l'histoire de la science linguistique suédoise” (Le Muséon, ii., 1883).
  26. Altschwedische Grammatik (1897-1904).
  27. The printed characters are also considerably changed by the introduction of the new letters å (with the translation of the New Testament of 1526), and ä, ö (both already in the first print in Swedish of 1495) for aa, æ, ø.
  28. See A. Noreen, “Aperçu,” &c.; Vårt språk, i. 181 sqq.
  29. See L. F. A. Wimmer, De Danske runemindesmærker (4 vols., 1895-1905).
  30. See E. Brate, “Nordische Lehnwörter im Ormulum” (Paul Braune's Beiträge, x., 1884); E. Björkman, Scandinavian Loanwords in Middle English (2 vols., 1900, 1902) in “Studien zur englischen Philologie,” vii. and xi. Also Orm.
  31. See A. Western, “Kurze Darstellung des norwegischen Lautsystems” in Phonetische Studien II.; I. C. Poestion, Lehrbuch der norwegischen Sprache (2. Aufl., 1900).
  32. Cf. J. A. Lundell, “Skandinavische Mundarten” (Grundriss der germanischen Philologie; 2. Aufl. 1901).
  33. The substance of these researches was presented in a magazine, called Norvegia (1887), which employed an alphabet invented by Storm.