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Language Planning as a Sociolinguistic Experiment

Language Planning as a Sociolinguistic Experiment: The Case of Modern Norwegian

Ernst Håkon Jahr
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Language Planning as a Sociolinguistic Experiment
    Book Description:

    A study of language planning using Norwegian as a case studyThe theory of language planning owes a lot to the Norwegian example, as outlined by Einar Haugen in 1966, and a new analysis of this case is of great importance to the field. Ernst Hakon Jahr not only tells the rest of the story, but also introduces a new analysis of the Norwegian development, drawing on the results of sociolinguistic research. This book therefore contributes to language planning theory as well as to the rapidly emerging field of historical sociolinguistics. Readers will gain new insights into a unique sociolinguistic experiment, exemplified by modern Norwegian language planning, as well as into the question of the general limits of language planning. Hakon Jahr tells the story from the very beginning, tracing the sociolinguistic situation in Norway in 1814 through the programmes of Ivar Aasen and Knud Knudsen to the sociolinguistic revolution that produce language reform in 1938 and the final termination of the pa-Norwegian planning effort by Parliament in 2005.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7834-1
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-ix)
  3. List of figures
    (pp. x-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Ernst Håkon Jahr
  5. Map of Norway
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Land and people, language and language planning
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book is about language planning, especially its limits. How far can language planners go? How extensively can they change and/or direct the development of a given language? What are the sociolinguistic and sociopolitical boundaries within which language planning can operate and succeed? Is it possible to change the sociolinguistic pattern of a country through language planning? To what extent can language planning be a sociolinguistic and sociopolitical experiment? This book will explore these questions through an analysis of the development of modern Norwegian.

    Since 1885, Norway has maintained two written language standards, now known asBokmålandNynorsk. Through...


    • CHAPTER 2 Before the start of language planning: 1814–45
      (pp. 17-34)

      At the negotiations about a bilateral union with Sweden in the autumn of 1814, following the short war that August between the two countries, the Norwegians insisted on inserting a clause in their new Constitution stating that the business of the state should be conducted ‘in Norwegian’. The phrase ‘the Norwegian language’ (det norske Sprog) is employed several times in the document (§§ 33, 47, 81).

      Since nobody at the time had any clear view about what ‘the Norwegian language’ meant, other than denoting the Danish language which they shared with the Danes, it is obvious that this wording was...

    • CHAPTER 3 A language based on upper-middle-class speech or peasant dialects? The programmes proposed by Knud Knudsen and Ivar Aasen
      (pp. 35-56)

      Knud Knudsen was the man who in theory and practice came to represent the view that the Norwegian language question should be resolved by developing the ideas of Jacob Aall, and even more so those of Henrik Wergeland. Knudsen argued in favour of this solution his entire life.

      He was born 1812 in Holt, a parish in the vicinity of Tvedestrand, a small coastal town located in the southernmost region of the country, close to where Aall owned a large iron mill. Aall later supported Knudsen for several years when he was studying philology at university.

      Knudsen’s father was a...

    • CHAPTER 4 The language question becomes a major political issue: 1860–1907
      (pp. 57-76)

      The main political issues in Norway in the second half of the nineteenth century were the troubled relationship with Sweden – leading ultimately to the dissolution of their union in 1905 – followed by the change to parliamentary rule, together with an increase in the number of people given the right to vote in local and national elections (in 1897 suffrage was extended to all men, and in 1913 to all women). Political parties were slow to emerge in Norway as compared with other European countries. The Liberal Party (Venstre/‘Left’, which was against the union with Sweden) and the Conservative Party (Høire/‘Right’)...

    • CHAPTER 5 Two Norwegian written standards: is linguistic reconciliation possible? Early twentieth century up to the 1917 language reforms
      (pp. 77-98)

      In 1905, two referendums were held in Norway, one to approve Parliament’s decision to dissolve the union between Norway and Sweden, and the other to determine whether the country would remain a kingdom or become a republic, with Prince Carl of Denmark being offered the throne. This second referendum was at the Prince’s request; he would agree to become King of Norway if this was the will of the people. The result was a clear majority in favour of remaining a kingdom, and so Prince Carl of Denmark became King Haakon VII of Norway.

      The union with Sweden between 1814...


    • CHAPTER 6 The emergence of a socialist theory of language planning: a sociolinguistic experiment
      (pp. 101-126)

      After the 1917 reforms, what was needed was a fresh analysis of the language situation on which to build a theory of language planning; and rather than focusing on what could be considered Norwegian versus Danish, it should concentrate instead on bridging the major sociolinguistic divide between popular local dialects and upper-middle-class speech. Doing this would involve defining the popular local dialects — understood as a single linguistic entity – as constituting the foundation on which not only Landsmål but also Riksmål should be based. It would also be necessary to identify the dialect forms that could be used to span the...

    • CHAPTER 7 The post-war language struggle (1945–66) to counter the sociolinguistic experiment of 1938
      (pp. 127-146)

      Following Norway’s liberation from German occupation in May 1945, national elections were held in the autumn in which the Labour Party won a solid majority of seats in Parliament and subsequently formed a government. It kept this majority throughout the 1940s and 1950s, until 1961. This period was dominated domestically by a policy of rebuilding the country after the war. Norway’s foreign policy was heavily influenced by the Cold War, and it joined the NATO alliance in 1949. In the 1961 election, the Labour Party lost its absolute majority in Parliament, but, together with a smaller party to the political...


    • CHAPTER 8 The end of the single-standard policy (1966–2002): reforms in 1981 and 2005 (for Bokmål) and 2012 (for Nynorsk)
      (pp. 149-163)

      The non-socialist government which took charge in 1965 was replaced by a Labour government in 1971 as a result of inner tensions among the coalition parties over the question of Norway seeking membership of the European Community (EC). Throughout the period 1971 to 2005, Labour and non-socialist governments came and went. All together there were fifteen changes of government — most of them minority administrations or involving coalitions of many different parties – five of these lasted only one year before falling. From 2005 up to today (2013), a coalition between Labour and two smaller parties has been in power.

      Norwegian society...

    • CHAPTER 9 Summary and concluding remarks
      (pp. 164-172)

      This book started out with some essential questions concerning the limits of language planning. How far can language planning go? Is it possible to change the sociolinguistic landscape of an entire language community – a country for instance?

      We have now reached the end of our journey through the history of language planning and language struggles in modern Norway. In Norway itself, at the time of writing (2013) the sea is calm where earlier it was very rough. The ‘linguistic avalanche’ which Einar Haugen (1966a) said was still sliding has finally come to a halt. So what are the results of...

  10. References
    (pp. 173-192)
  11. List of terms of language varieties
    (pp. 193-197)
  12. Timeline for the different written varieties of Norwegian
    (pp. 198-198)
  13. Timeline of important events for language planning and conflict in modern Norway
    (pp. 199-203)
  14. Index
    (pp. 204-218)