T thing/ explain to me why Norwegian has two written languages.psssh why you need t thing WHEN YOU HAVE ME??
Long ago the three Scandinavian countries lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the black plague attacked!
Norway was hit especially hard, the plague killed one third of the entire population. And who did the plague completely wipe out? Educated people. Because educated people, pastors, doctors, etc. are usually in a job where they help the sick or bury the dead. And what happens when you’re constantly around a bunch of sick people? You get sick too!
So because Norway was suddenly so much weaker, both economically and martially, and even academically, they decided to join up with Denmark.
An this is where Norway ceased to be a country. The great strong and fearsome viking kings were all but forgotten. Centuries of unions under either Sweden or Denmark had robbed Norway of land they had once conquered, like Greenland, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, Skaania. All we had left was a thin strip of coast, Svalbard and Jan Mayen.
But then, 400 years later, the age of National Romance happened. Suddenly being nationalistic was a good thing. And the Norwegian people remembered who they once were. Norway was the poorest country in Europe. All the universities were in Denmark. All education was in Danish. If you were someone, you spoke Danish, not that barbaric noise called “Norwegian”. There is no Norwegian nobility, only Danish.
Suddenly France is on fire.
The Americans are declaring independence
Such beauty. Such impress. Such national pride to the people and for the people!
Then Napoleon came along and pulled all of Europe into war.
Denmark joined on Napoleon’s side
Sweden, who has never gotten along with Denmark, backed England up
When England won, Sweden, as one of the winners, wanted Norway
And in the one brief week, between Denmark relinquishing its hold and Sweden taking over, the Norwegians saw their chance and took it.
A couple politicians stuck their heads together and wrote a constitution in only a handful of days. This constitution was heavily influenced by the French one written during the revolution, as well as the American Declaration of Independence. The constitution declared Norway as an independent country, and ever since that day, May 17th, 1814, 17th of May has been known as the Norwegian Constitution day, our national holiday.
Unfortunately, however, the Swedes were not persuaded by a silly little piece of paper and took over anyway, but hey. We tried.
Luckily they were much more lax than the Danes and let Norway basically rule themselves, as long as they followed the law of the Swedish king.
The Norwegians never forgot their brief moment of supposed victory though, and only a generation or two later they staged one of the most peaceful freedom wars in known history and Sweden went “well fuck you, you can have that damn country of yours! Just leave us alone”
sixty years later we found oil and became the richest country in the world but that has nothing to do with the language
ANYWAY, so Sweden left Norway basically to its own devices, and the Norwegians decided they no longer wanted Danish to be the main language. They wanted Norwegian. Problem is, at that time, after 400 years of rule, there was no such thing as anything specifically Norwegian. So they had a dilemma.
One guy, Knud Knudsen, took the structure of the Danish language and mixed it with what he heard the people speak around him. He called it Bokmål
This other guy, this slightly more nationalistic guy, Ivar Aasen (we like him), travelled around the country and found the most isolated farms and villages. The places that had not been touched and influenced by the Danish rule over the past 400 years. These were the thickest and most unique dialects and accents. He mixed them all together and created Nynorsk.
Bokmål means Book-language and Nynorsk means New-Norwegian
Fun fact: They actually held a vote deciding what to name these two languages and Nynorsk & Bokmål won over Dansk-Norsk (Danish-Norwegian) & Norsk (Norwegian) by ONE SINGLE VOTE.
So here they had a problem
‘Cause you see Nynorsk was something that was REALLY Norwegian. Something the nationalists had been pining after for decades, centuries. And it was easy to learn for those whose lives hadn’t been ruled by Danish language for as long as they could remember.
But Bokmål was a mix of two languages, and you know what happens when you mix two languages: It is greatly simplified. This made it easy to learn and it was something “norwegian enough to pass”. It was much easier to go from Danish to Bokmål for those who lived in the cities and had written Danish all their lives.
And while Nynorsk was the one that embodied the goal of this whole language hunt, and the one most loved by the peasants, Bokmål as the “easy way out” for the people in the cities, for the educated politicians and journalists and doctors and pastors who spoke Danish, even though they identified as Norwegian
And this is where they came to a standstill
People who liked Nynorsk used it and refused to give it up for Bokmål
People who liked Bokmål used it and refused to give it up for Nynorsk
and.. well that brings us to today
Though over the years the two languages have slowly been drifting towards each other, becoming more and more alike, Bokmål has also been taking over because it is what is most commonly used in the media. Because the media originates in the cities after all.
Both T thing and I are partial to Nynorsk though we use Bokmål more often in daily life, simply because it is more practical.
And that is why Norwegian is actually two languages.