New Norwegian Standard English

Norway has, roughly, two languages.

One is Bokmal, book language, sort of the educated Norwegian’s Norwegian, actually based on Danish (’cause they got conquered by the Danes once upon a time).

The other is Nynorsk, new Norwegian, more like a common man’s language.

Norwegians learn both. Apparently most of them use Bokmal for written/formal purposes but more people use Nynorsk for speaking.

I’m glossing over a lot of details here; see for more. My own connection to this subject is that I enrolled briefly in first-semester Norwegian in college, although I had too many hours that semester and wisely dropped this course. (Retaining only the first five sentences of this post.)

It strikes me though that English could be headed for a mushy situation like this, though for completely different reasons. 

Forces accelerating the rate of change in English and/or loosening the shackles of the grammarian:

– Search engine optimization – it is in the commercial interest of various companies to be found even when the searcher has misspelled something

– Similarly, commercial pressures on publishers of dictionaries – it’s in their interest to have the language change rapidly, making last year’s edition out of date

– TXTING. Texting works like a pseudo-Occam’s Razor, shaving words down to abbreviated and/or more phonetic spellings. Twitter might contribute here too.

I’ll hazard a guess that tomorrow’s college students will write Bok-english for academic and career purposes but use Ny-english for real life.


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