Principles of Operation

John Cowan cowan at
Thu Jan 24 21:56:55 CET 2008

Kent Karlsson scripsit:

> That is just pure fantasy. Let me guess that you don't have any
> direct knowledge about Swedish dialects, nor Danish.

It's true that I don't speak any Scandinavian languages, but that doesn't
make me ignorant of plain facts.

> Skanska/Scanian
> is most certainly a dialect of Swedish. It is very far from being
> "Eastern Danish" (though someone might have described it like that
> *for fun*).

Before 1685, it most certainly was so described, and quite seriously too.
Scania and Bornholm once spoke the same language (though the local
dialect is dying out on Bornholm), as ample historical records prove.
What would you call that?

Indeed, Scanian writings are older than the appearance of either Swedish
or Danish as distinct from eastern Old Norse, and may be and *have been*
claimed as the oldest Swedish and Danish writings.  Not all political
battles are directly governmental; indeed, the fact is that there are many
isoglosses that cross the national borders (as indeed there are between
Sweden and Norway, part of which was once also Swedish-controlled).
Evolving four sufficiently distinct standard languages out of a single
dialect continuum is no easy matter, as the former Yugoslavian countries
are now finding out.[*]

> And there is no such thing as "Scanian vs. a Scanian accent of standard
> Swedish",

I can't prove otherwise.  All I can say is that it would be extremely
surprising if this pattern, common throughout Europe and indeed India
as well, somehow exempted Sweden.

> All Swedish dialects, as most other dialects, are much older than
> the standard language. 

Quite so.  And you are claiming that all Swedes who speak the standard
language speak it with the identical accent, and with no substrate
influence from the other dialects of Swedish?

> If one were to give Scanian a separate code, there are several tens
> of Swedish dialects that differ about as much, in some cases more
> (out of which I can speak one), from (modern) standard Swedish as
> Scanian, and should also be given separate codes. Arbitrarily
> picking three and misclassifying them will not do. (As I noted,
> none of those three actually got language codes in 639-3, though
> Ethnologue erroneously states that they do. 

Don't be disingenuous.  Scanian lacks a 639-3 code element because
the representative from SIS (who would that be, hmmmm?) to ISO TC37
threatened to veto 639-3 if it were not removed forthwith.  In the
interests of getting 639-3 passed, the committee bowed to the will of
Sweden in this matter.

[*] From a Usenet posting back in the 1990s:

"There is no such language as Croatian.  There are only Croats, who
speak Serbian, badly.  *But shortly that will no longer matter.*"

At the end of the Metatarsal Age, the dinosaurs     John Cowan
abruptly vanished. The theory that a single         cowan at
catastrophic event may have been responsible
has been strengthened by the recent discovery of
a worldwide layer of whipped cream marking the
Creosote-Tutelary boundary.             --Science Made Stupid

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