The history of the Norwegian language
The whole process of creating a written mother tongue was created around the time when Norway was converted to Christianity. Before this Scandinavia had the runes, which still were around the same time as the conversion to Christianity, but they chose the Latin alphabet over the runes. This was during the 11th century, and the creation of the written mother tongue lasted until the 14th century. Of course there has been development after this, and it will be explained in the following text.
It is also in this part of the history where other countries created their written languages based on the Latin alphabet. The first written form of Norwegian may have ...view middle of the document...
Denmark – and therefore also Norway – instituted the reform and the countries were now of Lutheran belief. Norway did not have any say in this, and the reform was pushed down on their heads. The existing Catholic bishops were abolished and Danish Lutheran bishops were placed instead. This was the last independence Norway had, because during the same time their political council ‘Riksrådet’ was abolished as well. Norway was without their political opinion and also their religion.
In other parts of where the reform was instituted this meant a tremendous development in the language, literature, culture and nationalism. The exact opposite happened to Norway. Because of the Danish rule, the national language in Norway was experiencing quite a downfall, it was not used in its written form anymore, all official documents, the bible and the hymnbook was now in Danish. Some of the old literature written in Norwegian was burnt, and the old churches and the art inside them were destroyed to make room for the Lutheran church.
The rural people had a hard time learning the new religion as well as just reading the bible. They could not read and the bible was also very expensive, the sermons were even held in Danish. The new hymns that the people now had to sing along to were also in Danish, but the children were taught these hymns so that they knew them by heart. In some way you can say that the Norwegian language and culture skipped a part of an important development.
During the 17th century the Danish language developed a little, there were immigrants from Germany, and soon some loanwords from both German and French (German had French loanwords) were used, and French actually became a modern language during this period. One can make a comparison to the Danish play Jean de France. In Norway the Danish written language started its impact on the spoken language. Some Danes moved to Norway because of the priests that moved there, they often took their whole family with them. This meant that the Danish people there of course held on to their mother tongue but their children were influenced by both Danish and Norwegian, this meant that some mixture between Danish and Norwegian was created in the spoken language. This also happened in the higher social classes, where they incorporated Danish words in their speech.
The development continued until 1814 where Norway gained their independence from Denmark. But Norway was quickly taken over by the Swedish, and was now under Swedish rule; again Norway was weak politically so they could not fight back. But now they were not under Danish rule but still used Danish as a written language. Later in the 19th century this stirred some ideas of a real Norwegian written language that could be used in their official documents and the people could use instead of Danish. Two of the important people who fought for this were Knud Knudsen and Ivar Aasen.
Knud Knudsen’s early life and career
When we are looking at Knud Knudsen’s...