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Introduction into Nynorn

1. This section of the website is dedicated to our experimental project which aims at reconstruction of Norn as a usable language. See the Nynorn philosophy page for more detailed explanations of the objectives.

Our reconstruction is mostly based upon the Shetland dialect. The most distinctive feature of Nynorn in phonetics is the palatalised pronounciation [lj,nj] of ll,nn like in the most of Shetland. (Of course, if you prefer the Foula/Westside pronunciation [dl,dn], you may carry on with it; see a more detailed coverage of this matter in Dialects). In the grammar, it has been decided to use the four-case system, as preserved in the Ballad of Hildina and The Lord's Prayer. But, once again, variations can be possible.

In general, it should be mentioned that the presented version of Nynorn is, so to say, at the "beta" stage and subject to further corrections. There will likely be a major update (further referred to as "Great Revision") when all found mistakes will be indentified and improvements brought in. Feel free to use our forum to suggest things that could and should be improved.

2. The most common guidelines for Nynorn are as follows. (This is a rough overview and certain things may be added later on. See also the chapter on the Nynorn grammar for more details.)

2.1. The material remaining from Norn is to be used to the greatest extent and has priority over Old Norse or Scandinavian stuff. Our task is only to get rid of some superficial influences that Norn experienced from Scots:

2.1.1. [äi] is restored back to the original [i] (occasionally [e])
2.1.2. the definite article
de, coming from Scots is removed;
2.1.3. the preposition
to is replaced with its Scandinavian equivalent til (also widely present in the surviving texts);
2.1.4. infinitives are assigned the ending
-a, they have lost in most cases;
-in > -ing in masculine names;
-in > -andi in present participles.

2.2. At the same time, a few things connected to Scots have been left untouched, due to our desire to stay as close to the Norn material as possible:

2.2.1. Nouns ending at -ek which is a merging of the Scandinavian -ing- and Scots -ack, -ock ( < Gaelic -ach) are preserved; they conjugate like the -ing names, with which they have mixed a lot (words like hutrikin < *hudrek, mulikin, muttikin make us believe such words at least could take the definite article or what was left of it);
2.2.2. the ending of the names of agent
-er (< ON -ari) is left unchanged, despite sporadic examples of ON -ari. This decision can be explained by the fact that -er in the given context descends both from -ari and -ir, another Old Norse suffix for agent. (The same process has f.ex. also happened in Danish.)
2.2.3. female abstract names in
-in (ON -an, -ing) are left unchanged;
2.2.4. several expressions quoted by Jakobsen as being of Scandinavian origin were translated into Nynorn and are given in bold in the dictionary.

2.3. Bearing in mind we will not find many useful terms among the registered Shetland/Orkney words, why not to borrow some from Old Norse or contemporary Scandinavian languages?

In this particular case a systematic approach is followed. We can reconstruct the needed words according to phonological correspondance between Norn and Old Norse or another language. For example, we need a word for 'ghost', but the ON term for it draugr is not registered in Norn records. However, we have Shetland Norn/Scots words like hjog < ON haugr, bjog < ON baugr, joga < ON auga. So by analogy we could postulate that ON draugr would give *drjog in Norn (the asterisk is used for a reconstructed form, never met in life). But there are no Norn words that begin with drj-! All of them drop the -j-: drøg < ON drjúgr, drøl- < ON *drjól-/drýl-. So our final answer is *drog < ON draugr.

To be quite fair, we must admit that we lied in the beginning, there really is a Shetland word which originates from ON draugr, namely drow. However, this is rather a contamination of the respective Old Norse word and the Low Scots trow and is not a direct descendant from draugr. But whatever the truth is, the above-mentioned reconstruction of the form *drog is just a good example of our method. However, had there been no L.Sc. word trow, draugr would have most likely appeared in Norn as *drog!

3. Nynorn orthography.

3.1. The Nynorn alphabet consists of 24 letters:

Aa Bb Dd (Ð)ð Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Yy Øø Åå

The letter ð does not occur in the beginning of the word, its capital counterpart Ð is mentioned only for completeness sake.

3.2. We have introduced several letters which have an etymological value only:

3.2.1. ð - for ON ð. This letter reads as zero sound (like in Faroese), except 2 positions: and , where you can read it either like [r, g] or [rd, gd] respectively. Notice that the usage of ð in the Nynorn dictionary is not quite consistent and is subject to Great Revision.
å (reads as o) - for ON á and a, which gave o in Norn. This applies only o in stressed syllables. In the unstressed syllables we have decided to use the letter o: -som < -samr, as the spelling -såm has been considered lame. (But you can always contest it!).
ǫ is spelled as o, unless it is changed to a.
y (reads as i) - for ON y and ý.

It has been decided not to create a separate letter for u < ó due to the lack of a good sign for it and, more seriously, because the change ó > ú must have likely occurred already in the Old Norse dialect of Shetland and Orkney.

3.3. Various letter combinations.

3.3.1. hj reads as [j];
sj reads as English sh;
tsj reads as English ch.

3.4. A few more words on palatalisation. Long palatalised consonants can add the -i to the preceding vowel (especially o), although this is not a universal rule: foiljda < folda, skonjda,skoinjda < skunda, goitt < gott, but kolj < kollr, konnj < korn, knotti < knǫttr. We admit that in this case our orthography is not quite consistent, so there may be changes during the Great Revision too.



  Latest updates:

  - 'Nynorn texts' updated
  - 'Shetland Nynorn tutorial' updated (lessons 10-12 added)
  - 'Shetland Nynorn tutorial' updated (lessons 6-9 added)
  - Forum opened
  - 'Nynorn texts' updated
  - 'Caithness Norn' uploaded
  - 'Orkney Grammar' and 'Orkney's Lord Prayer' uploaded
  - 'Orkney' and 'Shetland dialects' uploaded
  - 'Terminology' uploaded
  - 'Language of Hildina' uploaded
  - 'The Ballad of Hildina' uploaded
  - 'Phonetics of Shetland Norn' uploaded
  - 'Phonetics of Orkney Norn' uploaded
  - 'Grammar of Nynorn' uploaded
  - 'Texts quoted by Edmonston&Jakobsen' uploaded
  - 'Nynorn dialects' uploaded
  - 'Nynorn dictionary' uploaded
  - 'Introduction into Nynorn' and 'Simple texts' uploaded




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