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Agnete Nesse

Norwegian is mainly spoken in Norway and is represented in writing by two written languages, Bokmål (90%) and Nynorsk (10%). Both would work well as a written standard for the whole country but are to some extent regionally distributed. The distribution is partly based on the dialects and their likeness to one of the two written standards, and partly on tradition and ideology. There is no codified standard spoken Norwegian, so in formal settings the choice is either to approximate to one of the written standards, or to simply use dialect, which is most often the case. Norwegian is part of the Scandinavian dialect continuum. Due to geography and historical developments in the region, most Norwegians easily understand spoken Swedish but sometimes struggle with written Swedish. Conversely, they easily understand written Danish but sometimes struggle with spoken Danish. Einar Haugen pinned the term Semi Communication to the almost mutual understanding between speakers of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. Between Norwegian and the insular Nordic varieties Icelandic and Faroese, there is no mutual intelligibility. Norwegian has both synthetic and analytic language characteristics. Grammatical meaning is partly conveyed morphologically by endings and partly syntactically through word order. The vocabulary is, apart from a group of loanwords from Greek and Latin, almost solely Germanic. Due to the influence from German (Low and High), Danish, and English, parts of Norwegian vocabulary will be recognizable to speakers of other Germanic varieties. The influence caused by the century-long language contact between Sami, Finnish, and Norwegian has not led to great changes in the vocabulary, but, regionally, dialects have changed due to this contact. The part of Norwegian vocabulary that has been retained from Old Norse is to some degree recognizable to modern speakers, but Old Norse as such is not comprehensible to a modern Norwegian reader. Typical grammatical features of Norwegian are 1. A relatively homogenous vowel inventory of nine vowels, and a heterogenous consonant system in which the dialects differ between 17 and more than 25 different phonemes. 2. Two distinctive tonemes in most dialects. 3. Suffixed definite article. 4. V2 word order



Erik M. Petzell

Swedish is a V2 language, like all Germanic except English, with a basic VO word order and a suffixed definite article, like all North Germanic. Swedish is the largest of the North Germanic languages, and the official language of both Sweden and Finland, in the latter case alongside the majority language Finnish. Worldwide, there are about 10.5 million first-language (L1) speakers. The extent of L2 Swedish speakers is unclear: In Sweden and Finland alone, there are at least 3 million L2 speakers. Genealogically, Swedish is closest to Danish. Together, they formed the eastern branch of North Germanic during the Viking age. Today, this unity of old is often obscured by later developments. Typologically, in the early 21st century, Swedish is closer to Norwegian than to Danish. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was great dialectal variation across the Swedish-speaking area. Very few of the traditional dialects have survived into the present, however. In the early 21st century, there are only some isolated areas, where spoken standard Swedish has not completely taken over, for example, northwestern Dalecarlia. Spoken standard Swedish is quite close to the written language. This written-like speech was promoted by primary school teachers from the late 19th century onward. In the 21st century, it comes in various regional guises, which differ from each other prosodically and display some allophonic variation, for example, in the realization of /r/. During the late Middle Ages, Swedish was in close contact with Middle Low German. This had a massive impact on the lexicon, leading to loans in both the open and closed classes and even import of derivational morphology. Structurally, Swedish lost case and verbal agreement morphology, developed mandatory expletive subjects, and changed its word order in subordinate clauses. Swedish shares much of this development with Danish and Norwegian. In the course of the early modern era, Swedish and Norwegian converged further, developing very similar phonological systems. The more conspicuous of the shared traits include two different rounded high front vowels, front /y/ and front-central /ʉ/, palatalization of initial /k/ and /g/ before front vowels, and a preserved phonemic tonal distinction. As for morphosyntax, however, Swedish has sometimes gone its own way, distancing itself from both Norwegian and Danish. For instance, Swedish has a distinct non-agreeing active participle (supine), and it makes use of the morphological s-passive in a wider variety of contexts than Danish and Norwegian. Moreover, verbal particles always precede even light objects in Swedish, for example, ta upp den, literally ‘take up it’, while Danish and Norwegian patterns with, for example, English: tag den op/ta den opp, literally ‘take it up’. Furthermore, finite forms of auxiliary have may be deleted in subordinate clauses in Swedish but never in Danish/Norwegian.



Lea Schäfer

The Yiddish language is directly linked to the culture and destiny of the Jewish population of Central and Eastern Europe. It originated as the everyday language of the Jewish population in the German-speaking lands around the Middle Ages and underwent a series of developments until the Shoah, which took a particularly large toll on the Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jewish population. Today, Yiddish is spoken as a mother tongue almost exclusively in ultra-Orthodox communities, where it is now exposed to entirely new influences and is, thus, far from being a dead language. After an introductory sketch, information on the geographical distribution and number of speakers as well as key historical developments are briefly summarized. Particularly important are the descriptions of the various sociolinguistic situations and the source situation. This is followed by a description of various (failed) attempts at standardization, as well as the geographical distribution and surveys of the dialects. The following section describes the status of Yiddish in the early 21st century, which overlaps with the sociolinguistic situation of Orthodox Yiddish. Finally, the linguistic features of modern Eastern Yiddish (dialects, standard, and Orthodox) are presented. In this context, linguistic levels and structures in which Yiddish differs from other (standard) Germanic languages are also discussed. Since Yiddish, as a language derived from Middle High German, is particularly close to German varieties, the differences and similarities between the two languages are particularly emphasized.


Judeo-Spanish (Judezmo, Ladino)  

David M. Bunis

The Ibero-Romance-speaking Jews of medieval Christian Iberia were linguistically distinct from their non-Jewish neighbors primarily as a result of their language’s unique Hebrew-Aramaic component; preservations from older Jewish Greek, Latin, and Arabic; a tradition of translating sacred Hebrew and Aramaic texts into their language using archaisms and Hebrew-Aramaic rather than Hispanic syntax; and their Hebrew-letter writing system. With the expulsions from Iberia in the late 15th century, most of the Sephardim who continued to maintain their Iberian-origin language resettled in the Ottoman Empire, with smaller numbers in North Africa and Italy. Their forced migration, and perhaps a conscious choice, essentially disconnected the Sephardim from the Spanish language as it developed in Iberia and Latin America, causing their language—which they came to call laðino ‘Romance’, ʤuðezmo or ʤuðjó ‘Jewish, Judezmo’, and more recently (ʤudeo)espaɲol ‘Judeo-Spanish’—to appear archaic when compared with modern Spanish. In their new locales the Sephardim developed the Hispanic component of their language along independent lines, resulting in further differentiation from Spanish. Divergence was intensified through borrowing from contact languages of the Ottoman Empire such as Turkish, Greek, and South Slavic. Especially from the late 18th century, factors such as the colonializing interests of France, Italy, and Austro-Hungary in the region led to considerable influence of their languages on Judezmo. In the 19th century, the dismemberment of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires and their replacement by highly nationalistic states resulted in a massive language shift to the local languages; that factor, followed by large speech-population losses during World War II and immigration to countries stressing linguistic homogeneity, have in recent years made Judezmo an endangered language.


Morphological and Syntactic Variation and Change in Romanian  

Ion Giurgea

The geographical varieties of Romanian spoken in Romania, the Republic of Moldova, and adjacent regions are largely mutually intelligible. More important are the differences between these varieties (known as “Dacoromanian”) and the South-Danubian varieties of Aromanian, Meglenoromanian, and Istroromanian, which have been separated from (Daco-)Romanian for a very long time, but qualify as dialects of Romanian from a historical and comparative Romance perspective. Standard Romanian is based on the southern dialect of Dacoromanian, in particular the variety of Muntenia, but also includes features taken from other dialects (e.g., the 3pl imperfect -au, the absence of “iotacism” in verb forms—văd instead of the etymological vă(d)z ‘see.1sg’ < Lat. *uidi̯o < uideō, with the regular sound change -di̯->-dz->-z-). A unified standard language was established around the middle of the 19th century. Some of the differences between the high and the colloquial register of standard Romanian are due to innovations characterizing southern varieties: the demonstrative system (high register acest(a), acel(a) versus colloquial ăsta, ăla), the future (high register voi [inflected] + infinitive versus colloquial o [uninflected] + subjunctive), the use of the infinitive (more restricted in the colloquial register than in the high register), and the presumptive mood (mostly colloquial, representing a modal epistemic specialization of a future form oi + infinitive, which is itself an innovation with respect to voi + infinitive). Some of the features by which substandard varieties differ from the standard language represent innovations: the replacement of the inflectional dative and genitive by prepositional constructions, the change of the relative pronoun care into a complementizer, and the loss of the number contrast in the 3rd person of verbs (the latter representing a recent development, mostly found in the southern varieties, but also in parts of Crişana and Transylvania). The loss of agreement with the possessee on the genitival article al is an innovation that first appeared in the northern dialect and subsequently gained ground across substandard varieties. Northern varieties, especially in peripheral areas (Crişana, Maramureş, northern Moldova), preserve a number of archaic features that disappeared from the standard language, for example, the productivity of verb-clitic word orders (with both auxiliary and pronominal clitics), the use of al-Genitive-N word orders, the conditional periphrases vream + infinitive and reaş + infinitive (the latter in Banat), and, as a widespread phenomenon, the 3sg=3pl homonymy in the perfect auxiliary (in the form o < au). Compared to the colloquial standard language, northern varieties preserve the infinitive better. An innovative feature characteristic of northern varieties is the use of periphrastic forms for the imperfect and pluperfect. As conservative features found in some nonstandard southern varieties, we may cite the use of the synthetic perfect (which in the standard language is restricted to the written register) and the stress on the oblique determiner/pronominal endings (ăstúia vs. ắstuia).


Early Modern English  

Terttu Nevalainen

In the Early Modern English period (1500–1700), steps were taken toward Standard English, and this was also the time when Shakespeare wrote, but these perspectives are only part of the bigger picture. This chapter looks at Early Modern English as a variable and changing language not unlike English today. Standardization is found particularly in spelling, and new vocabulary was created as a result of the spread of English into various professional and occupational specializations. New research using digital corpora, dictionaries, and databases reveals the gradual nature of these processes. Ongoing developments were no less gradual in pronunciation, with processes such as the Great Vowel Shift, or in grammar, where many changes resulted in new means of expression and greater transparency. Word order was also subject to gradual change, becoming more fixed over time.