Coded green.

Saturday 13 October 2007

Screenshot Oblivion

Pic of the day: Sunset for the language of the stony coast where I was born. (Although the picture is, appropriately enough, from Oblivion, it really looks a lot like home.)

Short: Nynorsk

I didn't mention this yesterday, but it is kind of amusing. Earlier this week, a coworker had to respond to a letter from a citizen. Now this citizen wrote in Nynorsk (New Norwegian), a minority language used by less than a fifth of the population, mostly on the west coast of Norway and the valleys. Most Norwegians use Bokmål (Book Language), which is a simplified mixture of Norwegian and Danish. Since I hail from the rural west coast, my coworker asked me to help her translate the letter into Nynorsk. Yesterday the citizen called her. He was rather ecstatic over the letter. He revealed himself as a teacher of Norwegian, and was amazed to see a letter in perfect Nynorsk, without a single error.

My coworker related this all to me, and it was kind of nice. But sadly I must agree with the techer: It is rare to see healthy Nynorsk written these days, even from the government (which is required by law to respond in the form of Norwegian used by the citizen). I have seen some of the standard texts in Norwegian for my own tentacle of government, and it is bad. It is stiff and contains unnatural forms and poorly camouflaged Danish expressions. This is not a Norwegian way of speaking! The healthy Norwegian spoken language is more verb-based, like English, not noun-based like German. The German influence has diffused through Danish and into Norwegian, especially in the bureaucracy.

My mother tongue is dying. Apart from a few experts (most of them teachers) nobody can write it anymore. They can still read it, but that is not enough to keep a language alive. In a generation or two it will be completely gone. It is weird, a bit like seeing an elderly relative sicken and wither away. A small part of yourself is dying with it.

I guess this happens and will happen to a lot of languages these days.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Nobel Peace Prize
Two years ago: Online gaming days
Three years ago: Sims2 wrongs = 1 right
Four years ago: Temptations
Five years ago: Country music is from Hell
Six years ago: Foolishness
Seven years ago: Rumors of war
Eight years ago: Pakistani putsch

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