Norse, Icelandic, Norwegian, etc

This guy (a US academic specialising in Old Norse) has a lot of pretty interesting stuff on Youtube

(Two random videos - but there’s a lot more on a variety of more or less related topics.)

Great. I added the channel to my subscriptions. There’s a Teach Yourself Old Norse course coming in april 2018 I believe.

Also there are a few other similar books (old English, etc.) . They are also in the process of adding classical Arabic, Aramaic and Gothic.

1 Like

Old Norse (and its close child, Modern Icelandic) look lovely - but maybe life is just too short to master another language with a monster-grammar?

I have a secret fascination for Nynorsk, though - which is kind of similar yet vastly simplified.

In fact, although I don’t talk about it much, I’m already dabbling with Bokmål. How is it that you guys say? I have “svin i skogen”, or something :smiley:

It would be interesting to have a look at Gothic and Old English.

lol “svin på skogen” means skeleton in the closet. The expression seems to stem from a time when the authorities would come to your farm to assess the value of your possessions for taxation. Apparently some people would hide their livestock in the woods to reduce their taxes so I suppose it can be translated as “skeleton in the closet”.

How’s it going with finding resources?

Ah, it’s “svin skogen”…well…I’ve still a lot to learn! :slight_smile:

Resources? Well, for Bokmål there are the usual suspects - the German edition of Assimil Norwegian, and the 1960s edition of Linguaphone’s Norsk Kurs (both of which I, of course, have in my collection.)

EDIT: The Linguaphone actually teaches Riksmål - thus a conservative version of Bokmål.

I like the Linguaphone - with reservations. They have people using “De” instead of “Du” quite a lot which (according to a Norwegian guy I once ran into) is very old fashioned - unless you are addressing the King of Norway! However it’s not really a problem. The associated verb conjugations are, of course, the same in either case; so it’s just a matter of making a simple switch to “du”.

More seriously (and uncharacteristically for Linguaphone) there seems to be a couple of howlers in the recording. I’ve noticed the text says “hotellet” and “postkontoret” - but the speakers on the recording say “hotellen” and “postkontoren”!

It’s weird, because the course was written by an apparently very serious team of people like (to give one example) “Dr Trygve Knudsen, Professor i nordisk språkvitenskap, Universitet i Oslo”. And it was, of course, recorded by native speakers. You would dare to hope these guys would know whether a word like “hotell” is common or neuter in their own national language! :-0

BTW I just love the fact that Norsk contains so very many words like “språkvitenskap”. As a German speaker, one instantly recognises that it is the same as “Sprachwissenschaft”. There seem to be many thousands of these words, and it does make learning exponentially easier.

The usage of “på” there is kind of illogical so don’t worry about that. It’s just one of those weird phrases.

Yeah, unless speaking to the king or queen you use the singular. Although I kind of wish we spoke like this still. But this is just me being all conservative. (God I love Russian)

Hotell and postkontor are both neuter so the text is correct. I can’t imagine why they would make such a mistake in the audio. Maybe they were having a boring day?

I kind of wondered whether they were dialect speakers, or something!?

Does the Bergen dialect always use “-en”?? (Or is it just that they never use “-ei”??)

But yeah, I guess anyone could make a dumb mistake. (It’s only three places in about two hours of recording where they do it…)

“Norwegian has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter—except the Bergen dialect, which has only two genders: common and neuter. Riksmål and conservative Bokmål traditionally have two genders like Danish, but Nynorsk and many Norwegian regional dialects have three genders.”


Maybe the Oslo dialect is the best one to learn?

That would be a good starting point, but if you want to learn Nynorsk then do go ahead. It’s mostly comprehensible with only the odd word being incomprehensible. You would probably end up teaching locals some Nynorsk if you learned that standard.

Indeed, I have been debating with myself I should start to learn Old English and/or some of the other languages that presided the modern Germanic languages and therefore get to see how the modern languages have evolved. Same with Latin and romance languages but as Prinz_Skogsvin put it “maybe life is just too short to master another language with a monster-grammar?”

It probably is. Also, classical languages aren’t supposed to be spoken. You’re supposed to read whatever was originally written in them and stick to that, which doesn’t give you much choice.

Yeah, That might be a slight bummer that there is not any really other practical use for ancient language other than reading. Being more of an introvert then an extrovert it doesn’t bother me that much. Still, one of the reason Latin and some of the old languages appeal to be is because of there grammar.

There might be at least one news service in Latin.

BTW ijoh, do people speak Nynorsk in your region?


I guess you could try Middle English :smiley: It’s s a kind of simplified Anglo-Saxon already showing heavy lexical influence from Norman. (Actually, it’s almost within touching distance of being comprehensible if you read Modern English to an ultra-high level.)

BTW some linguists contend that - rather than Norman-French - it was actually the influence of Old Norse spoken by our Viking buddies in the North of England that lead to the loss of complex inflections in English. The Normans tended to give us words rather than grammar, I guess.

(Another point of interest: up to at least the 1950s Northern English dialects had a strong tendency to say “et” instead of “the” for the definite article! So there was still a Viking influence going on. Maybe some folks in the North even still do this today?)

No, we speak northern dialects. I once met a guy who wrote poetry in Nynorsk though. He said it sounds more poetic/literary, which I suppose is true.