SV: "no" vs. "nb" and "nn"

Håvard Hjulstad havard at
Tue Mar 18 15:40:30 CET 2008

"no" is by no means obsolete. Kent Karlsson's statement in incorrect in many
respects. We need "no", "nb", and "nn".

There is no "official spoken form" of neither Bokmål nor Nynorsk. It is of
course possible to read out loud both forms of Norwegian, and there are
clear relationships between the various spoken forms and both written forms.
This is an important point: Spoken language isn't "normalized" in Norway.
You can hear any dialect even in "official" contexts. For the purpose of
classifying dialects, the distinction "nb" vs "nn" is irrelevant.

For Norwegian purposes the three identifiers cause little problem. People
not knowing Norwegian could use "no" for any form, or "no" for spoken and
"nb"/"nn" for written (if the distinction is relevant).

"no" as a macrolanguage isn't very far from the truth. Of course there is no
absolute distinction between "individual language" and "macrolanguage".


Håvard Hjulstad
  mailto:havard at

-----Opprinnelig melding-----
Fra: ietf-languages-bounces at
[mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] På vegne av Kent Karlsson
Sendt: 18. mars 2008 09:52
Til: ietf-languages at
Emne: RE: "no" vs. "nb" and "nn"

Karen Broome wrote

> It seems to me that "no" should be used when the language is spoken. 
> The written forms should use "nb" or "nn."

Certainly not. Although, as for most (if not all) languages, the dialect
structure is much more detailed than that, the (official) spoken forms of
"bokmal" and "nynorsk" are different, just as the written forms are.

I would say that the code "no" is simply obsolete (in an informal sense).

Had the RA (at the time) decided to do what it later did for Frisian, "no"
would have been "clarified" as "bokmal" and just added "nn" rather than also
adding "nb". In the current situation it would be best to regard "no" as a
collective code; I know that ISO 639-3 (currently) considers "no" to be a
"macrolanguage" code.

	/kent k

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