request for subtag for Elfdalian

Kent Karlsson kent.karlsson14 at
Mon Feb 29 18:43:49 CET 2016

This is a bit long again, sorry.

This is getting back to an issue that bugs me. It is not immediately
relevant to the current discussion about Älvdalian, but looks at
the broader perspective of Nordic languages.(But Älvdalian does
appear towards the end of this message.)

Den 2016-02-06 04:05, skrev "John Cowan" <cowan at>:

> Kent Karlsson scripsit:
>> Note again that **all** variants of Old Norse are closely related
>> to (modern) Icelandic, and *distantly* related to the modern Swedish/
>> Norwegian/Danish.
> You're confusing relatedness with similarity.

I had a feeling you would say that. It still does not make sense.

>> In summary, that "Old Norse split into Old East Norse and Old West Norse"
>> "is neither here nor there" (all of them are essentially Icelandic, and
>> the split is minor and NOT at all related to any of the modern divides),
> It is, though.  Nynorsk, like Icelandic, is egkavian, whereas Danish/Bokmaal
> and Swedish are jegkavian.

Ok, some new terms for me... Searching for "egkavian jegkavian" in Google
turns up exactly one hit (so I don't feel too bad about not knowing those
terms):, and that
just in a comment field, no explanation: "Egkavian versus Jegkavian. Jutland
is Egkavian.". If this refers to the use of "eg" versus "jag" (similar) for
the word for "I", then I regard that as completely irrelevant very minor
difference, very far from being any interesting dividing line. In any case,
inventing some new terms will not make this non-existent "great divide"
magically come into existence.

A more interesting, and relevant, comment from that one hit page:
"But I don’t really accept the clear East/West Scandinavian dichotomy. I
think it’s
an artifact of documentation, a result of the location of the main scribal
within what never ceased to be a continuum. There are room for a lot of both
north-south and east-west lines across the peninsula between Lund/Vadstena
in southeast and Trondheim/Iceland in northwest."

And... on that one hit page you(!) link to your page Many of the "essential"
statements relating to north Germanic languages are just silly. And some
others I've heard before (but do reflect matters in a very rude way). A
new one (to me) that I kind of like is "Nynorsk (or Redneck, as I call it)
is essentially Swedish with a bad accent. --David Oftedal".

In any case, it is not the case that the various "mainland" Scandinavian
languages/dialects have developed in isolation, after some imagined split
a millennia ago. Not just internal influences, but influences from other
languages as well (particularly old German and French, but now more from
English). These (mostly internal, and to a large extent political)
influences far overshadow any imagined split a millennia ago, making the
East/West/Old Gutnish (minor) splits moot in relation to the modern
languages/dialects. Sure, there are remnants of old local pronunciations
(i.e. spoken rather than written) in the modern languages/dialects, but
that is hardly to be regarded as some "true origin", just remnants.

It's not a nicely branching tree. Even Faroese, which did branch off
with Icelandic, is now very influenced by (modern) Danish.

So similarity is the best one can do for this group of languages,
similarities ARE the relationships. It's not like that in this case
there has been independent, and without any common influence, development
of similarities, something I think would be quite rare for languages.
(Here I mean actual similarities, not similarities of development, like
fading of dialects.)

Now, if you REALLY HAVE TO find a dividing line that goes back over a
millennia and that is based on a isolated phonetic phenomena:

"Old Norse had a stress accent which fell on the first syllable. Several
scholars have proposed that Proto-Norse also had a separate pitch accent,
which was inherited from Proto-Indo-European and has evolved into the tonal
accents of modern Swedish and Norwegian, which in turn have evolved into
the stød of modern Danish. Another recently advanced theory is that each
Proto-Norse long syllable and every other short syllable received stress,
marked by pitch, eventually leading to the development of the Swedish and
Norwegian tonal accent distinction. Finally, quite a number of linguists
have assumed that even the first phonetic rudiments of the distinction
didn't appear until the Old Norse period."

I have no idea how that was arrived at. However, that is a much more
plausible dividing line for the mainland Scandinavian languages, and
one that really does survive until today.

Even though you (and apparently others) try to lay out an east/west
dividing line, the /actual fact/ is that Nynorsk ("west") is and was
close to Swedish ("east"), are so close that Nynorsk (which is actually
a constructed language) could be regarded as a "moderate" dialect of
Swedish (no offence intended) and Bokmål, somewhere between standard
Swedish and Norwegian bokmål. (Says I, who can, or rather could, actually
speak a "Norwegian-ish" dialect of Swedish more distant from standard
Swedish than the distance from standard Swedish to Nynorsk (no, not
Älvdalian). It is not usable outside of a very small region, and these days
not even there... Dialects are fading rapidly.)

I repeat, for emphasis: Similarity is the best one can do for this group
of languages, similarities ARE the relationships. Not some fictional
dividing line between east and west. It just /may/ have been relevant
ABOUT a millennia ago, for /written/ material only. (Remember that at
this time most people could not read, so no reason to adapt to actual
local dialect.) But /it/ does in no way start divergent developments
thereafter. It is completely different dividing lines that do that,
in addition to a lot of "common" (for various reasons) developments. by Arne Torp,
professor of North Germanic languages at the University of Oslo,
gives an explanation to the situation, however. I have taken the
language relationship (yes, relationships, not happenstance similarities)
figures on that page and augmented them a bit below.

Unfortunately, on a later page,,
professor Torp tries to defend the "tree model", whereas the proper
answer to the question "Är stamträdsmodellen mogen för skräphögen?"
("Is the tree model [for the Nordic languages] ready for the scrap heap?")
should be "Yes, it is high time! Should have been done long ago.
The tree model just confuses people and gives the wrong relationships."

So I try to summarise page 11 below, while adding some bits and
pieces that were omitted in the
pages. It is not perfect, so I'm sure it can be improved upon.
Of course the years are just rough indications. The evolvement has
of course been gradual, no sharp lines.

The figures are in "ASCII art", and the line breaks are significant. The
line breaks (long lines) are likely to be messed up in the plain text
version of this email, but I hope the HTML version will be better.

Vertical bars:
|       Dialect level difference
||      Language level difference
|||     Great divide
||||    Major divide

year 150-700
        Proto-Norse (urnordiska)
year 700–1200    
        Old Norse (fornnordiska, dǫnsk tunga) 'non'
                |                 |
West Nordic (a) | East Nordic (b) | Old Gutnish (c)

   [Minor dialect differences ONLY; **NOT** the basis for any
    split that came, and any implication that it was is false.
    But there may be some //very minor// and **completely
    insignificant** remnants of resp. dialect here in modern
    languages/dialects. I.e. if these were the actual dialects
    at all, which is highly questionable.] (A)

(a) Iceland, Faroe, "Norway" (very few, and **completely insignificant**
    minor remnants in Nynorsk).

(b) "Denmark", "Sweden" (very few, and **completely insignificant** minor
    remnants in Danish, Bokmål, Swedish of today).

(c) Gotland, some **minor remnants** in the Gotland (Gutnish)
    dialect of Swedish (Gutnish /today/ is a mild dialect of Swedish).
    According to the tree model, modern Gutnish would be on a branch
    of its own, far separate from all the other languages in the tree.
    That would be absurd.

(A) For written material, probably more dialects spoken.

                                                          North Germanic
          -------- Old North Nordic -------------               ||  South
           |                                 |                  ||
Norn 'nrn' | Old Icelandic/Faroese/Norwegian | Old Swedish (B)  ||  Old
Danish (Scania and Norway: parts of Denmark)

                     [Out of these, only Norn has a language code.]

(B) Old(!!) Dalecarlian (apprx. Old Älvdalian) is a dialect of Old(!!)
Swedish (but NOT of modern Swedish).

                                    North Germanic
     Insular Nordic (Old North Nordic)  ||||
              ||         |||            ||||
              ||         |||            ||||             ------North
Nordic-------                 ||| South Nordic
              ||         |||            ||||              ||          ||
|                  |||
Icelandic (C) || Faroese ||| Älvdalian  ||||  Swedish (D) || Nynorska ||
Bokmål | Danish (written) ||| Danish (spoken)

   [Except for Älvdalian, these have language codes;
    for Danish: 'da'/'dan' and 'jut' for the Jutish dialect/language;
    though there is no "macro-language" code. Strangely 'jut'
    is marked as "historical" in ISO 639 reg., but (correctly)
    as "vigorous" in Ethnologue. So it is not clear if 'da'
    covers 'jut' (though Ethnologue implies so). Though
    I guess 'da' does cover Bornholmian (apprx. modernised
    Old Scanian, "east Danish") as Ethnologue implies.]

(C) Revitalised and "modernised" Old (West) Norse.

(D) Including (e.g.) modern Scanian (NOT(!!!) "east Danish") and
    modern Dalecarlian and modern Gutnish. From a historic perspective
    one also does the additional divisions into "New Swedish"
    (apprx. 1600-1900) and "Now Swedish" ("nusvenska", modern
    Swedish) (1900-now). 'sv' should apply only to "Now Swedish".


/Kent K

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