Norwegian language, Norwegian Norsk , North Germanic language of the West Scandinavian branch, existing in two distinct and rival norms—Bokmål (also called Dano-Norwegian, or Riksmål) and New Norwegian (Nynorsk).
Old Norwegian writing traditions gradually died out in the 15th century after the union of Norway with Denmark and the removal of the central government to Copenhagen. Dano-Norwegian stems from the written Danish introduced during the union of Denmark and Norway (1380–1814). When in 1814 Norway achieved independence, the linguistic union with Danish persisted, but educational problems due to the linguistic distance between Danish and spoken Norwegian and to sociopolitical considerations, as well as the ideology of “national Romanticism,” stimulated a search for a national standard language. In 1853 a young self-taught linguist of rural stock, Ivar Aasen, constructed a language norm primarily from the dialects of the western and central rural districts. This standard continued the Old Norwegian tradition and was meant to eventually replace Danish. After long research and experimentation, he presented this New Norwegian norm (called Landsmål, but now officially Nynorsk) in a grammar, a dictionary, and numerous literary texts. New Norwegian was officially recognized as a second national language in 1885.
Today, all Norwegians learn to read and write New Norwegian, but only about 20 percent use it as their primary written language. It has been cultivated by many excellent authors and has a quality of poetic earthiness that appeals even to nonusers. Its norm has changed considerably since Aasen’s time in the direction of spoken East Norwegian or written Dano-Norwegian.
In the 19th century, most Norwegian literature was written in a superficially Danish norm, but it was given Norwegian pronunciation and had many un-Danish words and constructions. The spoken norm was a compromise Dano-Norwegian that had grown up in the urban bourgeois environment. In the 1840s Knud Knudsen formulated a policy of gradual reform that would bring the written norm closer to that spoken norm and thereby create a distinctively Norwegian language without the radical disruption envisaged by the supporters of Aasen’s New Norwegian. This solution was supported by most of the new writers in the powerful literary movement of the late 19th century.
The official reforms of 1907, 1917, and 1938 broke with the Danish writing tradition and adopted native pronunciation and grammar as its normative base; the resultant language form was called Riksmål, later officially Bokmål. An official effort aimed at amalgamating Dano-Norwegian and New Norwegian into one language (Samnorsk) was abandoned in 2002. In its current form Dano-Norwegian is the predominant language of Norway’s population of more than 4.6 million, except in western Norway and among the Sami minority in the north. Dano-Norwegian is used in all national newspapers and in most of the literature. Both of these mutually intelligible languages are used in government and education. It might be added that local dialects are used much more widely in Norway than in the other Scandinavian—and other
Norwegian is a North Germanic language with around 5 million speakers in mainly in Norway. There are also some speakers of Norwegian in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the UK, Spain, Canada and the USA.
Early Norwegian literature, mainly poetry and historical prose, was written in West Norse and flourished between the 9th and the 14th centuries. After that Norway came under Swedish and then Danish rule. Norwegian continued to be spoken but Danish was used for officials purposes, as a literary language and in higher education.
After Norway separated from Denmark in 1814, Danish continued to be used in schools until the 1830s, when a movement to create a new national language emerged. The reasoning behind the movement was that written Danish differed to such an extent from spoken Norwegian that it was difficult to learn, and because they believed that every country should have its own language.
There was considerable debate about how to go about creating a national language and two languages emerged - Landsmål (national language), based on colloquial Norwegian and regional dialects, particularly the dialects of western Norway, and Riksmål (national language), which was primarily a written language and very similar to Danish.
Landsmålwas renamed Nynorsk (New Norwegian) in 1929 and Riksmål is now officially known as Bokmål (book language). A few people over 60 still use Riksmål, which is considered a conservative form of Bokmål and differs only slightly from it.
Today schools can choose to teach either Nynorsk or Bokmål and civil servants are expected to be able to use both forms. For a while there was a movement to create a single standard language to be called Samnorsk (Union Norwegian). Politicians liked the idea of unifying the Norwegian language, while everybody else thought it a bad idea and a bit of a waste of time. The Samnorsk project was officially abandoned on 1st January 2002.
Norwegian Language Council(Bokmål and Nynorsk)
This language has about 5 million speakers in the world.
Norwegian language on websites ranks on 28th on its content available on net and it is 0.2% in terms of percentage.