Nordic duck duck goose -- Bokmål, Bokmål, Bokmål, Nynorsk!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/03/03 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/03/03/9971878.aspx


The Norwegian (Nynorsk) Language Interface Pack is now live!

In fact, you can get both the 32 and 64 bit versions of it right here.

Note that it will only install on a system that runs a Norwegian (Bokmål version of Windows 7 (so a reasonable fallback story can happen!).

And now, a little background information on Norwegian (Nynorsk):

NUMBER OF SPEAKERS

~500,000

NAME IN THE LANGUAGE ITSELF

norsk (nynorsk)

Nynorsk is not a language but one of the two official standard variants of Norwegian, Bokmål being the other one. Due to the complicated topography of Norway (Think fjords!) there has always been a multitude of diverse dialects for Norwegian. This and the fact that for centuries Danish, language of the long-time rulers, was the official language, have contributed to Norwegian not having one official variant as it exists for other languages.

When Norway gained independence from Denmark in 1814 a nationalist-romantic movement hoped to create a literary standard. In the 1850s the poet and linguist Ivar Aasen developed an orthography (mostly based on the west Norwegian dialects) which was called Landsmål and which became the official written language in 1885. Landsmål was renamed to Nynorsk in 1929.

Still, Danish had become so established (especially in the urban centers such as Oslo) that people kept using their Norwegian variant of Danish, called Riksmål and renamed to Bokmål in 1929. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Bokmål - under the influence of Nynorsk - has become more "Norwegianized".

Today Nynorsk is used by 10-15% of Norwegians, i.e. by around half a million people, while the majority uses Bokmål. 92% of all publications are in Bokmål. Broadly speaking, Nynorsk is seen more in rural areas, especially in Western Norway. A state policy to merge Nynorsk and Bokmål into one language, called "Samnorsk" (Common Norwegian), by gradual spelling reforms was started in the 1930s but finally abandoned in 2002. 

You can look at the Wikipedia article for more information on it, too (right here) and the Norwegian language struggle (right here).

And of course right here in this blog I described a small piece of the movement of Norwegian away from Danish in The disunification of Norwegian and Danish sorting and The disunification of Norwegian and Danish sorting ( SQL Server 2008 Edition!).

Interestingly enough for people keeping track of such things, this whole language policy shift, and my fascination with it/passion in describing it, eventually led (through a series of unexpected, but in retrospect predictable, steps) to a relationship with someone who was neither Norwegian nor Danish nor Finnish nor Swedish. 

Apparently, I can get passionate about language issues?

Plus, on a more professional vein, this particular LIP gives me hope that other languages with regional variants that skirt the thin edge of mutual intelligibility (e.g. English, Spanish, Arabic, French) might one day see someone giving them some LIP too! :-)

That reminds me - I'll have to talk about the whole 32-bit/64-bit thing at some point too. I'll do that soon.


Raymond Chen - MSFT on 3 Mar 2010 8:22 AM:

If anybody has a sense of humor, the official English translation of "Samnorsk" should have been "Nordic Combined".

Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Mar 2010 8:30 AM:

If they don't have a sense of humor, the groaner of a title might have stopped 'em!

Mihai on 4 Mar 2010 11:48 AM:

"it will only install on a system that runs a Norwegian (Bokmål version of Windows 7"

This sounds like a bit of a step backwards, to the days of XP.

Would it work if one tries the Nynorsk LIP on top of a English OS (or any OS :-) with a Bokmål MUI?

Some experiments waiting to happen :-)

Michael S. Kaplan on 5 Mar 2010 11:19 AM:

This is not like the XP ("must be atop English") thing, this is a quality issues with some Lips needing certain parents to have reasonable fallback stories.

Mihai on 5 Mar 2010 2:16 PM:

Actually, in XP not everything was on top of English.

Basque, Catalan, Galician required Spanish, Slovak required Czech, and Ukrainian required Russian.

(ok, I did not try them all, but at least this is what the official pages claimed)

Michael S. Kaplan on 5 Mar 2010 7:23 PM:

Indeed, but it was not supported in XP Gold; specific architectural changes had to be made in SP2 to support the notion, due to the requirement that some LIPs had - to have other base languages deemned to be a better fit than English.


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