Fwd: dialects and languages

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 25 15:05:04 UTC 2008

I forwarded Larry's observation on Skånska to a Swedish friend.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro
Date: Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 3:14 AM
Subject: Re: dialects and languages

Mark Mandel kirjoitti 2008-02-23 kello 0:58:

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> Date: Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 1:20 PM
> Subject: Re: dialects and languages
> To: ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu

> A nice example is Skåne, spoken in what is now
> the south of Sweden; it used to be a dialect of
> Danish (when the area belonged to Denmark) and
> then magically became a dialect of Swedish,
> without having undergone any appreciable changes
> overnight.

Indeed, but in the 350 years since Sweden conquered Skåne (or Scania,
the latinised English version of the name), the Scanian dialect* has
diverged from Danish and aligned more with "standard" (i e Mälar
valley) Swedish.  So while Scanian people I know often can speak
Danish (by virtue of working in Denmark, watching Danish TV and so
on), it is definitely a language change for them in terms of
vocabulary, intonation and so on.  (Though less so than it would be
for me.)

I have no problems understanding spoken Scanian (in most cases), but
spoken Danish requires quite a bit of effort and "vaba?" (say again).
(Written Danish is not so problematic, even though I have to look up
words every now and then.)  Actually I'd say spoken Danish is not
mutually intelligible with anything else, including itself, as you may
remember from the YouTube sketch I sent you. :-)

* And of course not even Scanian is a single unified dialect.  I once
read an article (in a Kulturen yearbook, perhaps?) which took the
first few spoken phrases in "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils"  (Nils
Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige) and rendered them in several
different versions of Scanian (as they would have sounded at the turn
of the previous century).  In the book they were of course given in
standard Swedish - interestingly enough, even though the book is about
the range and variety of Sweden in all respects, all characters speak
perfect standard Swedish; this was written in a period when dialects
were to be suppressed in the interests of national unity or
something.  Of course, when I read the book for the children I did all
the voices and all the dialects (as best I could).


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