The Language Conflict of Norway Essay

The Language Conflict of Norway Essay

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In the middle of the 19th century when Norway, needed to have a new written language of it’s own, after being under Danish rule. The process of getting this new Norwegian written language, was not straightforward, as not one way of doing was agreed on. There were two rivaling ways of getting the new Norwegian written language. One was to adopt a newly created language based upon the older dialects, that reassembled old norse the most. This approach was founded by Ivar Aasen. The other approach was to use the dano-norwegian that a lot of people already used, and standardize it a gradually changing the danish words into Norwegian. This idea was founded by Knud knudsen, and is what lead to bokmål. These two different approaches battled in what later was known as the language conflict of Norway.
Knud Knudsen and Ivar Aasen’s rivalry occurred in the the middle of the 19th century. At that time the theories and focus when planning language was on the pure linguistic aspect. That meant that the social aspect was not taking into account at that time. The practice of including the social factors in linguistics, which is called sociolinguistics, was only used later when the Nynorsk and Bokmål had been introduced and had been mandatory to be taught in schools for some time.
We will use the theories of language planning, to compare with what the Norwegian government did when they introduced and legislated about Nynorsk and Bokmål. This will help shed a light to, why Norway has ended up with two written languages, and why the use of Nynorsk has drastic declined. When looking at Nynorsk, Bokmål and the language conflict all together, we will of course take to account that language planning, is a modern linguistic tool and that they at the ti...


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...ogical modernisation, stylistic development and internationalisation suggested by Kaplan and Baldauf. We will not use those in in the Norwegian case, instead we are interested in another of elaboration that also is very important. The aspect of getting the public to produce literature, use it in the media and basically in all parts of everyday life. This is really important in maintaining and evolving the written language, in order to ensure that it fits, the new requirements and changes that happens as the society and technology develops: “... literacy in a language is difficult or impossible to maintain if there is nothing to read beyond the literacy materials”  (Language Planning - from practice to theory, page 43, line 6 from the bottom) The task of encouraging and making sure that the public have access to a lot of different materials, is the government’s job.

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