Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

Michael Everson everson at
Sun Mar 6 14:01:41 CET 2016

I will replace Bokmål with Norwegian.

> On 6 Mar 2016, at 11:48, Mats Blakstad <mats.gbproject at> wrote:
> 2016-03-05 19:44 GMT+01:00 Michael Everson <everson at>:
> ​ Elfdalian is not merely a dialect, but rather is as distinct from Swedish as Bokmål is (indeed, as distinct from Swedish as Iceland is); 
> Bokmål is one of the written standards of Norwegian (we don't speak standarized like in Germany and Sweden, we only use it in written form). If you ask a Norwegian person if they speak Nynorsk or Bokmål they will find the question kind of funny as we normally consider it like we speak the same language; Norwegian, but people use different written standards of Norwegian; Bokmål and Nynorsk. Normally the west-coast of Norway is consiered "nynorsk"-area, but in the cities and some other places they choose to rather use Bokmål. This is because of rural-urban conflicts that gave roots to the Norwegian language conflict. Each municipality in Norway can choose themselves what written form they want to use. Like my own city Kristiansand uses Bokmål, even though the dialect maybe have more similarities with Nynorsk. The dialect is also influenced by Danish, which is what Bokmål is constructed from, people sometimes think about south-norwegians as speaking like "Danish Norwegian". I think the Norwegian dialect borders are a little bit more complex than the nynorsk/bokmål division.
> I think we should either say "... as distinct from standard Swedish as Bokmål" or "... as distinct from Swedish as Norwegian". However. as far as I know nobody ever did a test about the distanse of Norwegian and Elfdalian/Övdalian from Swedish. According to Östen Dahl (Professor Emeritus of General Linguistics, Stockholm University) who measured the distance from different dialects and languages from Swedish with the help of Swadesh’ glossary, the lexical distance between Swedish and Elfdalian is as big as the distance between Swedish and Icelandic. Maybe it is enough to refer to his work?

Michael Everson *

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