NORWEGIAN: THE LANGUAGE OF THE RUNES
Germanic language spoken by nearly 5 million people, mainly in Norway, Norwegian is very close to the pronunciation of Swedish and the writing of Danish.
Also, geography and fixation standards in Norway gave rise to a myriad of local and regional dialects—reason why the translation of technical documentation from Norwegian into any other language requires a professional specialized in the three tongues, in addition to vast cultural knowledge.
By Juliana Tavares
As the other Scandinavian languages, Norwegian comes from common branch, Proto-Norse, from which remain but a few fragments of runic inscription of the 3rd century.
The Latin alphabet, introduced along with Christianity, replaced the runic symbols and, in the 11th century, Norwegian had already become a proper language. Nonetheless, between 1380 and 1814, due to the annexation of Norway to the Denmark crown, Danish took over the condition of Norway's official language, mainly used by the cultivated and urban classes, whereas the popular classes in rural zones used dialects that were more or less homogeneous as to pronunciation, lexicon and syntax: west Norwegian (vestlandsk); east Norwegian (østlandsk); north Norwegian (nordlandsk); and middle Norwegian (trøndersk).
Amidst the 19th century and in response to the will of nationalizing the language and reclaiming the country's proper identity, linguist Ivar Aasen initiated the construction of a new written language that was setting in as the national standard.
As of then, two written versions of Norwegian came to coexist, Bokmål (Bookish Norwegian) and Nynorsk (New Norwegian).
Bokmål is based on the Dane-Norwegian and developed from the written Danish adapted to the phonology of the general dialect spoken in east Norway.
Nynorsk was based on a compilation of several dialects from west Norway.
Both versions, however, have the same legal and teaching consideration.
Approximately 20 thousand individuals in Norway, however, have Sámi as mother tongue, which is part of the Ural-Altaic linguistic branch.
With an alphabet of 26 Latin letters with three additional ones: æ, ø, å, Norwegian uses diacritical signs with some limitation.
Letters c, q, w, x, z are only used in some pronouns, family surnames and words of foreign origin.
The acute, low and caret accents may be used to distinguish between certain homographs, and also in words of foreign origin to mark the tonic syllable or preserve the original spelling.
Most dialects have 18 simple vowels and six diphthongs.
And, opposite to the other Scandinavia languages, including most of the bokmål dialects, nynorsk preserves the use of the feminine gender along with neutral and masculine.
All these peculiarities imply that the translation of Norwegian documents into any language requires specialized professionals.