Variant subtag proposal: Høgnorsk variety of Norwegian

Thorgeir Holm thorgeirholm at
Sun Dec 27 23:30:33 CET 2009

<hermer Doug Ewell frå 27.12.2009 18:48>

>> I'm not quite sure about that one. Maybe someone would claim that 
>> 'hognorsk' is so unlike ordinary 'nn' that it would be better to use 
>> it with the macrolanguage subtag 'no' (although 'hognorsk' must no 
>> doubt belong to 'nn' and not 'nb' if these two split all variation of 
>> 'no' between themselves).
> That's the problem: not all Norwegian is tagged as either 'nb' or 'nn'. 
> This is partly because of inertia, and partly because it really is 
> useful sometimes to tag content as "Norwegian," the macrolanguage, 
> rather than specifically Bokmål or specifically Nynorsk.  This is the 
> nature of macrolanguages.
> The statement that Høgnorsk "is so unlike ordinary 'nn'" is an 
> interesting one.  Thorgeir's proposal presents Høgnorsk as simply an 
> orthographic variant, not a basic language difference, but the (very 
> brief) English-language Wikipedia article refers to it as a dialectical 
> variety of Nynorsk.  When vocabulary and grammar are involved, the 
> variation is no longer just one of orthography.

The whole Norwegian language situation is rather complicated, maybe not 
so much by its own merit, but because of the political naming of the 
language varieties. If IETF had been at hand some 100+ years ago, the 
obvious naming would be 'no' and 'da-NO', and that would be it.

I'm afraid Wikipedia is not very informative on Høgnorsk. Maybe the 
German article has some potential, but the Norwegian ones are mostly 

Now, the thing is that common 'nn' vocabulary and style is so little 
fixed that it can be said to vary somewhere between the two extremes 
'nb' and 'hognorsk'. There are also a few grammatical differences 
between 'nn-official' (if I may say so) and 'nn-hognorsk', but you can 
write really a lot of Høgnorsk before you will encounter those. That is 
why orthographical difference is the obvious shibbolet. Høgnorsk 
orthography is clearly non-official in a lot of common words.

On the other hand, most 'nn' texts today use a vocabulary and a style 
that is clearly not 'hognorsk', and that is why I made the remark that 
some people might claim that Høgnorsk "is so unlike ordinary 'nn'." But 
the use of 'no-hognorsk' would be political, I guess, and I see no 
reason the mention it in this form.

As for the usefulness of the 'no' tag, I'm not so sure. If you have a 
text mixing 'nn' parts with 'nb' parts, yes, but wouldn't the same 
situation be at hand with a text mixing, say, 'en' parts with 'nb'? 
(Both situations can be seen at Norwegian universities.)


More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list