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Blod og Jord
Wednesday, September 30th, 2009, 09:48 AM
Denmark's Dying Dialects: A Language Dilemma

In the 20th century, linguistics documented 50 Danish dialects. Now there are less than a dozen Danish dialects (denmark.dk). Dying dialects bow to the languages of the oppressors as one man puts it in the
Sundance Film Festival 2008 documentary entry "The Linguists," which records the efforts of two linguists who travel the world to record disappearing dialects like those in Denmark (thelinguists.com).

Danish and Norwegian are two varieties of the broader category of Scandinavian languages and are thus mutually intelligible for the most part. While Norway deemphasized the importance of a standard language in the 1900s (Trudgill) and put the focus on its local dialects, which have survived, Denmark, recognized as a national language since the 1800s (Trudgill,) chose to develop a strong standard language allowing many of its local dialects to fade from use and, in fact, from existence (Kristiansen).

A dialect is a specific variety of a language that has its own lexical, grammatical and/or phonological features that mark it as distinct from any other variety. The differences between the dialects within one language can be mild, so that speakers of various dialects can understand each other, as with Danish dialects, or the differences can be great, as within the German language, so that speakers of some dialects absolutely cannot understand speakers of some other dialects: they are mutually unintelligible (Trudgill). For example, vocabularies may be different, word order within phrases may differ, formation of plural nouns may differ, and the systems of pronouncing vowels and consonants may differ. Any of these lexical, grammatical or phonological differences present to a significant degree may render intelligibility problematic.

A standard language is a dialect that has been standardized as to phonological, grammatical and syntactical features and established as the prestige dialect of academics, literature, government communications and theater. Denmark's standard language is called Rigsdansk. It is the dialect
of Copenhagen and has been standardized over a 200 year period (denmark.dk). It is now a very strong standard in both its written and spoken forms (Kristiansen). It is these strong national standards that are recognized as national languages and to which all national dialects refer, either by similarity, as in Denmark, or by national allegiance, as in Germany, which has dialects in its North that are linguistically more akin to Dutch dialects than to German (Trudgill).

In respect of the fact that Danish dialects have greatly diminished in number, three things complicate the dialectal situation in Denmark, which the Danish government and linguists are trying to find solutions to (denmark.dk). First, Denmark, along with many other countries in the world, has dead or dying dialects that are either gone from the world forever or will soon be gone. Denmark faces the problem of trying to revitalize those dying dialects to preserve them for other generations for which they represent heritage and identity or trying to record them before they are gone forever with other lost dialects. In some cases only one speaker may exist who knows a given dialect.

Secondly, Denmark, like most other European countries, as well as the United States, has a large and growing population of immigrants from developing countries whose languages may not stem from the same linguistic roots as do Northern European languages. This adds a new dimension to what the Danish government and linguists are calling "dialect intolerance" (denmark.dk). The challenge facing Denmark, then, is to incorporate tolerance and preservation of these new dialects that have entered the country's language system and that are adding new dimensions to everyday contemporary Danish speech as, for example, Arabic or Turkish words like "wallah" or "para" (meaning "I swear" and "money" respectively) become intermixed with Rigsdansk speech (denmark.dk).

Thirdly, new concerns are being raised about the unconscious influence of the entertainment and news media on the language of Denmark. Linguist Tore Kristiansen of Copenhagen University will present new research and theoryat the Sociolinguistics Symposium 17 in
Amsterdam in April 2008 that ties the media to trends working counter to Denmark's stated objectives of re-valuing local dialects in order to preserve and to elevate the prestige of the dialects that remain in existence (Kristiansen). Kristiansen says that despite academic and social discourse advocating the prestige, or value, of local dialects, adolescents uniformly, in "every corner of the country" (Kristiansen), have an unconscious (evidenced through indirect linguistic evaluation as opposed to direct questions about dialects) preference for the standard, or Modern, dialect that is consistently used in the media. Kristiansen will present his claim that this uniform preference in Danish adolescents across all parts of Danish culture "can only be understood as a media effect" (Kristiansen). It is easy to see how this sort of unconscious abandonment of the few remaining dialects in Denmark complicates the aim of preserving and re-valuing the dialects that are left that is rightly, though belatedly, espoused by the Danish government and linguists.

Though the Danish government doesn't stand alone in its dilemma as the same dilemma is felt in virtually every country on the planet, the dying Danish dialects do present a serious dilemma for the government of Denmark and for its linguists. The action may be overdue, but it is right that linguists are working to redefine the values and importance of Denmark's dialects; to save some and record others; and to enlist government in action on its own behalf to save this vital though vanishing part of its people's heritage and identity, their dialects.

Further Reading and References:

Kristiansen, Tore. 'Media, language ideology, and language use in Norway and Denmark' (2008, upcoming). Sociolinguistic Symposium: micro and macro connections 17. Amsterdam. Available from: http://www.conftool.com/ss17/index.phppage=browseSessions&form_session=23&presentations=show&abstracts=show

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Disappearing Dialects (2006). Copenhagen: Copenhagen Post, in Denmark.dk. Available from: http://www.denmark.dk/en/servicemenu/News/FocusOn/Archives2006/DisappearingDialects.htm.

Trudgill, Peter. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to language and society, Fourth Edition (2000). London: Penguin Books.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/657615/denmarks_dying_dialects_a_language.html

Linda Trostenhatten
Thursday, October 1st, 2009, 10:47 PM
When you read about this protonorthgermanic / frumnorŠna, early scandinavian you ask how they can state this so confidently.

This is said to have 3 type of r's. voiced and unvoiced rolling and like in standard english voiced but not rolling. What happened to the voiced not rolling - they simply turned into rolling. obviously the danish back positioning is not original and i am guessing this happened around 15 hundred but i cant say perfectly and it very likely through influence from the south.

this is also said to have only 5 wovels: i as in him, e as in end, o as in honda, u as in should and a as in as. no u as o in who and do, e as in he or we or ÷. there was an unvoiced l as we still have.

Linda Trostenhatten
Friday, October 2nd, 2009, 11:00 AM
the oldest texts that have been found and are called germanic are from 200 something. greek in comparison has texts from 1500 bc.
obviously many closed sounds became only half closed pater tre father three and this is called the first sound shift or the german sound shift.

the germanic branch is said to have many words not in common with other ie languanges. some say these words are borrowed from whoever lived there before but in my opinion it is just as likely they simply moved to a new environment and needed to invent some words.

rainman
Friday, October 2nd, 2009, 04:06 PM
I think there should be balance. Up until recently in most of Europe you can cross the street and people are speaking in a different accent or dialect. It becomes rather absurd. The purpose of language is communication for the most part, and not isolation. All these dialects appeared from when people rarely traveled, were not very literate or didn't read much, and had little outside contact. Unless the dialect offers something unique like a totally useful new way of thinking or a certain character that is much different from the mainstream language or unless it represents a large region I don't see much use in preserving it. I might make up slang words or alter my speech with my close friends. This is my invention only known by me and a few friends. Should we then have a linguist come in and preserve this? It seems very liberal. Like the idea that the weak have to be protected from the strong and that we should prop up those things that are failing and incapable of survival.

Willow
Friday, October 2nd, 2009, 11:50 PM
Secondly, Denmark, like most other European countries, as well as the United States, has a large and growing population of immigrants from developing countries whose languages may not stem from the same linguistic roots as do Northern European languages. This adds a new dimension to what the Danish government and linguists are calling "dialect intolerance" (denmark.dk). The challenge facing Denmark, then, is to incorporate tolerance and preservation of these new dialects that have entered the country's language system and that are adding new dimensions to everyday contemporary Danish speech as, for example, Arabic or Turkish words like "wallah" or "para" (meaning "I swear" and "money" respectively) become intermixed with Rigsdansk speech (denmark.dk).

Tolerance and preservation of immigrants' dialects, eh? No surprises there then...And what about those turkish and arabic words intermixed with danish? I've never heard any (thankfully)...I find it bizarre the way lots of young people swear in english. I think the way turks talk danish is really ugly, especially intermingled with english swear words. Ugly words, ugly people.

Linda Trostenhatten
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009, 02:28 PM
so i saw this comment in the morning paper that again is based on something from the jutland post

it says that danes speak faster that swedes. danes speak 25 - 40 % faster and put 4 words per seconds compared to only 3 be swedes.

"this is a surprise because we had not expected the difference to be so great" says anna schuppert from holland who did the study.

this is supposed to explain why swedes find danish difficult to understand.



i had previously heard that danes were much worse in understanding norwegian and swedish than vice verca and also that danish children learned to speak a bit later and they thought this was due to the softness of their language.

i also would think that how fast somebody speaks depends on the situation and different individuals speak very differently

frippardthree
Thursday, October 15th, 2009, 09:01 AM
Should we then have a linguist come in and preserve this? It seems very liberal. Like the idea that the weak have to be protected from the strong and that we should prop up those things that are failing and incapable of survival.


Secondly, Denmark, like most other European countries, as well as the United States, has a large and growing population of immigrants from developing countries whose languages may not stem from the same linguistic roots as do Northern European languages. This adds a new dimension to what the Danish government and linguists are calling "dialect intolerance" (denmark.dk).


Tolerance and preservation of immigrants' dialects, eh? No surprises there then...And what about those Turkish and Arabic words intermixed with danish? I've never heard any (thankfully)...I find it bizarre the way lots of young people swear in English. I think the way turks talk danish is really ugly, especially intermingled with English swear words. Ugly words, ugly people.

Sadly, we are facing a similar dilemma in the United States, with the growing use of "Spanglish" from the Mexican immigrants.:mad


Spanglish refers to the code-switching of "English" and "Spanish", in the speech of the Hispanic population of the United States and to a lesser extent Gibraltar and most Spanish holiday resorts, which are exposed to both Spanish and English.

These phenomena are produced by close border contact and large bilingual communities along the United States-Mexico border and California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Puerto Rico, The City of New York, and Chicago. It is common in Panama, where the 96-year (1903-1999) U.S. control of the Panama Canal influenced much of local society, especially among the former residents of the Panama Canal Zone, the Zonians.

Spanglish also is known by a regional name, e.g. "Tex-Mex" in Texas, (cf. "Tex-Mex cuisine").

In Mexico, the term pochismo applies to Spanglish words and expressions. Spanglish is not a pidgin language. In the late 1940s, the Puerto Rican linguist Salvador Tiˇ coined the terms Spanglish and ingla˝ol, a converse phenomenon wherein Spanish admixes with English; the latter term is not as popular as the former.

There is another dialect, known as Llanito, that arose in British-controlled Gibraltar and is not a part of the "Spanglish" phenomenon.

Spanglish is a popular, but not technical, term for this bilingual language contact, known to linguists as code switching, or loanword usage. Linguists do not consider Spanglish a term useful in discussing these phenomena, because it groups linguistic phenonema that do not necessarily belong together; many things labelled Spanglish are very different from each other. The novel Yo-Yo Boing!, by Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi, is an example of a fully bilingual literary exercise incorporating code-switching, bilingualism, and Spanish.

For example, the speech of a fully bilingual Spanish and English speaker in the U.S. who spontaneously switches between Spanish and English usages in mid-sentence, linguistically is someone very different from a monolingual Puerto Rican Spanish speaker whose native vocabulary contains many English words and expressions.



Retrieved From:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanglish