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Tema Language

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Tema Language

Språk - Sprog - Kieli

This Tema entry combines works and people devoted to language, linguistics, and dictionaries with related resources. Project Runeberg aims to cover Nordic literature, and this Tema aims to cover the Nordic languages.

Related to:
Nordic Words
Tema Reference


Latin was introduced as the religious and administrative language in the Scandinavian countries when they adopted the Christian religion in the 10th, 11th, and 12th century. In the Lutheran reformation of the church in the 16th century, churches (and governments) started to use the national languages, but Latin was used in science until the beginning of the 19th century.

Denmark's famous 12th century historian, Saxo, was later nicknamed Grammaticus because of his good command of Latin grammar and style. His Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes) has been translated to Danish in the 19th and 20th century.

Starting in 1999, Project Runeberg has published a few works in Latin (scientific papers by Berzelius).

Related to:
Kejsarklubbens latinguide
travlang's Swedish-Latin On-line Dictionary
travlang's Latin-Swedish On-line Dictionary

Germanic Languages

The Germanic languages include the West Germanic: English, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages: Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish. A third group of East Germanic languages is now extinct. It is believed that maybe 2,000 years ago, these languages were one. Further back, all Indoeuropean languages were one.

Related to Tema German Literature

Scandinavian Languages - Old Norse

The Scandinavian group of languages, also called the North Germanic group, or Old Norse, had separated from the other Germanic languages and constituted a language of its own some 1,400 years ago.

This was the language of the Vikings. They used it for their mythic poetry and saga production, which went in oral tradition until it was written down in the 12th and 13th century. Then, in the late middle ages, the language started to split up into Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.

Related to Tema Vikings, and Tema Middle Ages.

Danish - Dansk

Just like Swedish (below), the Danish language is defined by its differences with the other Scandinavian languages, which start to show up in the middle ages, and is manifested in the first Bible translation in the 16th century. German print or Fraktur was abandoned later than in Sweden, but earlier than in Germany, probably somewhere around the year 1900.

Related to Tema Danish Literature


Related to Tema Icelandic Literature

Norwegian - Norsk

Related to Tema Norwegian Literature

Swedish - Svenska

Swedish was established as a language of its own in the middle ages, when it started to show differences with Danish and Norwegian. These differences were strengthened and confirmed when the first Swedish translation of the Bible appeared in print in 1541 (New Testament in 1526). The coordinator of these efforts were Olaus Petri. In linguistics, literature, religion, national independence, this period of the reformation defines the beginning of the modern Swedish nation. Swedish poetry started with Stiernhielm in the 17th century, and a social movement with the freedom of the press in the early 19th century (Hierta). Early Swedish science in the enlightenment of the 18th century, however, was mostly written in Latin (Celsius, Linné). The early 19th century's romantic interest in the history of Vikings led to an increased scholarly interest in and understanding of the Old Norse language.

By the end of the 19th century, linguistics was an established science, and leading young linguists who had studied the historic evolution of language, now wanted to speed its change towards simplicity by spelling reforms (Adolf Noreen), while others were more moderate (Tegnér). Small reforms were introduced then, but the more important one happened in 1906 when minister of schooling Fridtjuv Berg ruled that the old spelling with hv-, -dt, and -f be abandoned for the simpler v-, -tt, and -v. During the 20th century, plural forms of verbs have gradually been abandoned in writing. These reforms were adaptions of spelling to existing practices in speech. German print or Fraktur was abandoned for most purposes in Sweden in the first half of the 19th century, science first, and religion last.

Related to:
Tema Svenska Akademien
Carl Jonas Love Almqvist, Svensk Rättstafnings-Lära, 1829
Viktor Rydberg, "Nordisk språkodling", Göteborgs Handelstidning, 28 dec 1871
Viktor Rydberg, "Bibelkommissionens fjärde öfversättning af nya testamentet" och fortsättningen "Tysk eller nordisk svenska?", ur Svensk Tidskrift, 1873
Viktor Rydberg, "Om förnamn i allmänhet och de nordiska i synnerhet", Göteborgs Handelstidning, 14 sept 1874
Viktor Rydberg, "Om tankens behof af språket", 1881
Erik Nyström, Biblisk ordbok för hemmet och skolan, 1896
Gustaf Cederschiöld, Om svenskan som skriftspråk, 1897
Karl Warburg, Svensk litteraturhistoria i sammandrag, 1904
Gustaf Cederschiöld, Om ordlekar, 1910

Fenno-Ugric Languages

The Fenno-Ugric languages (Finnish, Estonian, Sami, Hungarian) are not part of the Indoeuropean family, but constitute a family of their own. Project Runeberg is concerned with the Fenno-baltic subgroup (Finnish, Estonian, Sami) because these languages are used in the Nordic countries, which we try to cover.


Related to Tema Estonian Literature


Related to Tema Finnish Literature


E-texts from Project Runeberg

Nordic Authors from Project Runeberg

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