Saturday, August 16, 2008

The clusters łg/rg and gd

The clusters łg
In Modern Jamtlandic, the Old Norse clusters łg/rg have typically become pronounced [ɽj]/[ɾj], i.e., as if they were spelled "łgj/rgj". In this respect Jamtlandic follows Swedish rather than Norwegian. The crucial thing here is that Jamtlandic has independently invented this softened pronounciation of g. In the case of Swedish, g has become a "j" in this cluster due to the fact that it used to be soft, i.e. [ɣ], in Old Norse. In the case of Jamtlandic the explanation is fundamentally different. Indeed, the softening is due a a generalization of the softened pronounciation in the definite form of mainly masculine nouns. I quote Vidar Reinhammar's Hammerdalsmålet (p.23):

"I Lg och rg har g övergått till j (âLj 'älg', vârj 'varg').
Troligen är det inte frågan om en regelrätt övergång
utan om ett ersättande av Lg, rg med Lj, rj, lånade
från den bestämda formen (âLjen, vârjen), där övergången
till j är regelbunden. Detta utbyte har i så fall antagligen
ägt rum ganska sent i tiden."

The phenomenon is more obvious for words of the type fisk [fɪsk] 'fish' which in the definite form is fisk·jen [ˈfɪʂːən] 'the fish'. In Modern Jamtlandic one often hears an incorrect [fɪʂː] "fiskj" in the indefinite form due to the softening in the definite. According to V. Reinhammar, this is a very recent devlopment (p. 36: "Sådana former är unga." 'Such forms are young.').
The main conclusion we must draw isn't to forbid people to pronounce łg/rg as [ɽj]/[ɾj], but to use a formally softening j in the definite. Thus, nouns like æłg 'elk' and bærg 'mountain' are in the definite form æłg·jen and bærg·jeð, respectively.

The cluster gd
A perhaps equally interesting phenomenon is that the ON cluster [ɣð] in Modern Jamtlandic often is pronounced as [jd], i.e., as if it were spelled "jd". In 21th century Jamtlandic spelling this is often represented as (ö)yd or (e)id. Needless to say, the proper Jamtlandic pronounciation is [gd] (older: [ɣd]) corresponding to the spelling gd, and the improper pronounciation is directly borrowed from Swedish without any form of internal phonetical evolution.
A tragic example of the incorrect swedified pronounciation is the "official" Jamtlandic lyrics of Jämtlandssången, the inofficial national anthem of Jämtland (P.-G. Norman & B. Oscarsson):

"Mæ sir frå höjdom
bort mot åsom,
der kjörsan står milla gålom"

where I have quoted only three lines due to copyright reasons. (Even the Jamtlandic flag needs a license fee paid to private interests to be manufactured and sold! The legal owners of the flag are Storsjöyran AB and Bo Oscarsson. This is the reason I don't use the Jamtlandic flag at all in this blog.) The word in question is "höjdom" [ˈhœjdɔm], dative plural of "höjd" [hœjd] 'height, hill'. (Today it's recommended that one should spell these words "høydom", "høyd".) Let's quote Vidar Reinhammar in his discussion about the fate of ON ð (p. 22):

"Däremot står det kvar i reid 'skogstrakt', bögd 'bygd',
högd eller höjd 'höjd'."

Note the order högd then höjd, not the reverse, suggesting he assumes högd is a more proper dialectal form than höjd. (Not very important, but it should also be noted that he writes höjd rather than "höyd", i.e., he doesn't consider the softened form to have a diphthong.) Since my orthography focuses on the pure dialectal forms, it's obvious I spell høgd with g. (The g suggests that the related verb pronounced [ˈhœ.œʏː] or [ˈhœʏːjə] 'raise, increase', ON hœgja, should be spelled høgje rather than "høye".) Another example is sløgd [l̥œɡd] 'handicraft', which in Swedish is slöjd. I guess most modern Jamtlandic writers following the recommendations would spell it "shlöyd" [sic!]. (A third example is nøgd [nœɡd] 'satisfied', which in Swedish is nöjd and which in Jamtlandic today typically would be spelled "nöyd". The g suggests that the related noun pronounced [ˈnœ.œʏː] or [ˈnœʏːjə] 'satisfaction, pleasure', ON nœgi, should be spelled nøgje rather than "nøye".)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Verb conjugation w.r.t. grammatical person

This time I'll discuss the conjugation of verbs with respect to grammatical person. In Swedish dialects and folk traditions 2004 (ed. Maj Reinhammar) I noticed the verb form vilin [ˈʋɪˑlɪn] 'want' (second person plural). The part of the 52 lines long poem where vilin is mentioned goes like:

Såm skä nöna sta igen
Å krus tä Mass Jansa Jlin,
Å ha bydi Hössbonn sänn
Frila bö däck, dä da vilin

(where "Jlin" is read as Ilin
[ˈɪˑlɪn], the colloquial Jamtlandic form for Helen) with the more or less literal translation

Which will now go away again
And cookies to Matt Johnson's Ellen,
And has invited her master
Much was offered to you, that you want

There are two things which are interesting about vilin. Namely, the ending -in rather than -an, and the fact that it's not an imperative mood but in indicative. Note that today the ending in question is exclusively -an, and verbs are only conjugated with respect to grammatical person in the imperative.

The ending -in is of course the old one, but is a more modern form than Old Norse -ið. Indeed, in ON, vilin would've been viljið [
ˈwɪɫɪ̯ɪð]. The 18th century form vilin probably comes from an older vili [ˈwɪlɪ] with a dropped (ON ð after a vowel has always become silent in Jamtlandic). An -n has been added, probably with Swedish as a rôle model. (In slightly outdated Swedish it'd be viljen, from Old Swedish viljin.) The reason is probably to avoid ambiguities due to converging pronounciations. For example, ON kastið 'throw' (second person plural) would straightforwardly have become "kasteð" [ˈkastə] in Jamtlandic, which would be the same as the imperative and the past participle. It's obvious that the -n was added at a late stage since otherwise one would end up with "vili" and "kasta" due to (at least for the latter) nasalization, opening and dropped -n. I would definitely suggest that old short stemmed verbs get -in (like e.g. vilin, since vil was a short stem) and old long stemmed verbs get -an (like e.g. kastan, since kast was a long stem).

The other thing to discuss is the fact vilin isn't used as an imperative in the poem, but as an indicative. It's apparently the fact that in mid 18th century Jamtlandic, at least sporadically, one could conjugate a verb in the indicative mood with respect to grammatical person. Today this is only the case for the imperative mood, and even though it's standard in the second person plural, it's not in first person plural. One evidence that it still exist is the following quote from p. 99 in the PhD dissertation Om dativ i svenska och norska dialekter: 1. Dativ vid verb by Maj Reinhammar (1973):

Lyckönska: lyckönschom nu bröfoLkom Mörsil

which translates to 'Let us congratulate our brother nations!' In standardized spelling, the first person plural ending would be -um. My suggestion is that, since it was possible in 18th century Jamtlandic (which I count as Late Modern Jamtlandic, the period 1700-now i.e. the period for which Jamtlandic has been studied by scholars), it should be possible to conjugate verbs with respect to grammatical person.

As an example, take the verb kaste 'throw'. Followin the prescription above, the "light" (modern) conjugation pattern for the indicative mood would be


while the "heavy" (archaic) conjugation is

1st Pl.kastumkasteð
2nd Pl.kastankasteð
3rd Pl.kastekasteð

(The imperfect tense has a single conjugation for this specific class of verbs. Other classes of verbs have a "full" conjugation pattern with respect to grammatical person.) For the imperative, I think it's a good idea to impose the special first person plural as standard, giving

Sg.1st Pl. 2nd Pl.

This concludes the post.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spelling 'orkj' from 'yrkj'

In Swedish dialects and folk traditions 2004 (ed. Maj Reinhammar) in the contribution En jämtländsk 1700-talsdikt by Maj Reinhammar where a mid 18th century Jamtlandic (presumably in the Offerdal dialect) poem is analyzed, it is written

Jämtskans öppna »grumliga» ö-ljud, som fonetiskt
brukar tecknas med »åttan» (stundom å-haltigt) eller
»skålpundsåttan» (u-haltigt) skrivs i dikten med ö,
nöna 'nu', (3 o. 21), hör (44 o. 47), döm (19),
söm (20; vanligen såm 16, 21, 27 o. 34), nör (16),
örskje (12), körskjen (26), föll38 (29, 35 o. 41),
-örta (36), [...]

(The numbers within parantheses refer to the line in the poem.) The sounds in question are what in IPA are written [
ɞ] (»åttan», i.e. "the eight", in Swedish Landsmålsalfabetet, i.e. 'The Dialect Alphabet') and [ə̹ ] (»skålpundsåttan», i.e. "the pound eight"), where the latter is a rounded schwa.

Fig. 1: Swedish Landsmålsalfabetet. (Source: SOFI.)

The two interesting words in the context are örskje [
ˈɞʂːə] 'wood, material' and körskjen [ˈtʃɞʂːən] dat. 'the church', derived from Old Norse yrki [ˈʏrcɪ] and kyrkju·nni [ˈcʏrcɪ̯ʊnːɪ], respectively. Note that the spellings are semi-etymological in that the k is spelled out, one would've expected rs rather than rskj to denote [ʂː]. It can't be ruled out that rskj denotes an earlier stage in the phonetical evolution, perhaps [ʂtʃ].

Let's take a look at what these too words are in Hammerdal dialect (H), Klövsjö dialect (K) and Åre dialect (Å), where we employ the usual references:

kyrkju[ˈtʃœ.œʂː] [ˈtʃœʂːə][ˈtʃœ.œʂː]

(Note that I have considered ON kyrkju rather than kyrkju·nni.) We see that all dialects in question have developed yrkj into [œʂː]. Does this mean we should spell yrkj, as according to the etymological spelling? (Compare with e.g. kyn [ tʃøːn] 'gender', ON kyn.) Or more phonetical as ørkj? There's another choice, namely orkj. This seems suggestively more consistent with [ɞʂː] of mid 18th century Offerdal dialect, and, in fact, more consistent with what has happened to ON yrk.

To explain what I mean, consider the more general situation of ON yrC and yłC where C denotes an appropriate consonant, e.g. k. To be specific, consider e.g. ON myrk- 'dark', kyłd n. 'cold', and fylgði imp. 'followed':

fylgði [ˈfa.aɖː][ˈfɞɖːə][ˈfɔ.ɔɖː]

These samples are perfectly consistent with the spellings mork, kjo
łd and fołde with o rather than u (or á, or any other vowel) as a stem vowel. Adding a j in the equation, one would get suggestively an implied i-umlaut of o. This would give the spellings orkje 'wood, material' and kjorkje 'church'. It's the j which tells us that o is pronounced as if it were spelled ø. One could imagine the spelling ø too, i.e., "ørkje" and "kørkje", respectively. This could need more discussion.

To conclude, ON yrkj is spelled orkj, though it
can be in principle ørkj as well.

Next time I'll probably discuss the second person plural verb ending -in found in the word vilin [ˈʋɪˑlɪn] 'want' in the poem discussed in Swedish dialects and folk traditions 2004.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cardinal numbers (part 3)

In this post we'll conclude the discussion about the cardinal numbers. We have:

30 [ˈtɾɛtːɪ]?þríatigitrettig
40 [ˈfœʈːɪ]?fjóratigifyrtig
50 [ˈfɛmtɪ][ˈfæmtɪ]femmtigi femtig
60 [ˈsɛkstɪ]? sextigisekstig
70 [ˈʂɵtːɪ]?sjautigisjúttig
80 [ˈɔtːɪ]?áttatigiáttig
90 [ˈnɪtːɪ]?níutigi nittig
100[ˈhɵnɾə] [ˈhɵnːəɾ] hundrað húnnreð
1000 [ˈtʉːsn̩]? þúsundtúsn

Unfortunately, my references don't say much more than this. Note the apocopated form [ˈhɵnːəɾ] for 100 in the Åre dialect (Å) suggesting a spelling "húnnr" without -eð. I think this is a secondary form borrowed from Swedish hundra, though. (Swedish words ending in -a typically correspond to apocopated forms in Å.) Alternatively it's the acute accent which has forced an apocopation.
Cardinal numbers of mixed form such as e.g. 21, 657 etc. are form in the following way: tjugueitt, sekshúnnreðfemtigsjú, respectively, which is very straightforward.
The system above works for the cardinal numbers 1999,999. Cardinal numbers greater than 999,999 don't traditionally exist in Jamtlandic, though one could say 1,000,000 is milljón [ˈmɪlːɪ̯uˑn] and 1,000,000,000 is milljarð [ˈmɪlːɪ̯ɑˑɽ].
 Note: The cardinal numbers húnnreð '100' and túsn '1000' can be considered as neuter nouns while milljón '1,000,000' and milljarð '1,000,000,000' are masculine.

I think next time we'll take a look at the ordinal numbers ('first', 'second',...).

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cardinal numbers (part 2)

Let's continue the cardinal numbers (I don't consider the Klövsjö dialect anymore due to the fact that the reference doesn't have any cardinal numbers in it):

11 [ˈɛlːɵ(ʋ)] [ˈœlːɔʋ] ellufuelluv
12 [tʰaɽʋ][tʰɔɽʋ]tołftołv
13 [ˈtɾɛtːæn][ˈtɾetːɐn] þrettántrettan
14 [ˈfɪ̯ʊʈːæn][ˈfɪ̯ʊʈːɐn]fjórtánfjórtan
15 [ˈfɛmtæn][ˈfæmtɐn]femtánfemtan
16 [ˈsɛkstæn][ˈsekstɐn]sextánsekstan
17 [ˈsœtːæn][ˈʂœtːɐn] søytjánsøttan
18 [ˈat(ː)æn][ˈaʈːɐn]átjánattan
19 [ˈnɪtːæn][ˈnɪtːɐn] nítjánnittan
20 [ˈtʃɵˑɣə][ˈtʃɵˑɣɵ]tjogutjugu

Notes: (1) Old Norse had various words for 11. In Old Icelandic it was ellifu, in Old Swedish ellufa. I assume Old Jamtlandic (N) had ellufu, but I could be wrong. What's peculiar is that the unstressed vowel hasn't become a schwa ([ə]) but either [ɵ] or [ɔ]. Maybe one considered the word being a compound el-lufu where lufu became simplified to luv giving elluv rather than "ellev"?
(2) In Jamtlandic it's not too uncommon to double a consonant after a long vowel, e.g. ON sýta 'to lament' has become sytte [ˈsʏ.ʏtː] 'to nurse' in Jamtlandic. That seems to have happened for the numbers 1719. Note especially 17 where the dipthong has been lost in the process. (The Hammerdal dialect always preserves diphtongs otherwise, even the short ones, which suggests one should spell "søyttan".) Also note how an unstressed -ján has become -an. It's possible the j was dropped very early.
(3) The number 20 has a pretty diffuse etymology. Old Icelandic had tuttugu, Old Swedish tjugu. I use the etymology found here, which assumes a u-broken form of a root teg- (tegu-tjog-).

To be continued in Part 3.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cardinal numbers (part 1)

To do something concrete, we can derive the cardinal numbers of Jamtlandic. I'll use the references

[1] Hammerdalsmålet, Vidar Reinhammar
[2] Klövsjöord, Gösta Edlund et al
[3] Åremålet, Anna-Lena Forsåker

In the table below, H, K and Å will refer to the dialects of Hammerdal, Klövsjö and Åre, respectively, with evidences found in references [1], [2] and [3], respectively. Furthermore, N will refer to the reconstructed etymology of the (Late) Jamtlandic dialect of Old Norse. (I'll use this site as a source for the reconstructions.) Finally, J will refer to the derived orthography based on the dialectal evidences and the ON etymology.
The first cardinal numbers (in the sense of abstract counting) are given by

1 [eɪtː]?[etː]eitteitt
2 [tʋuː] ? [tʋuː]tvátvó
3 [tɾiː]? [tɾiː] þríatrí
4 [fyː.yɾ]?[fyː.yɾ]fjóra fýre
5 [fɛmː]?[fæmː]femmfemm
6 [sɛks] ?[seks]sexseks
7 [ʂʉː]?[ʂʉː] sjúsjú
8 [ɔ.ɔtː] ?[ɔ.ɔtː] áttaátte
9 [ˈniːə] ?[ˈniː.i]níuníe
10 [ˈtʰiːə] ?[ˈtʰiː.i]tíutíe

Note here that [2] lacks any references to the lower cardinal numbers, and that the numbers 9 and 10 in the Hammerdal dialect surprisingly aren't apocopated. One would have expect the same as in the Åre dialect. Also note that the Old Norse etymologies tvá, þría, in some dialects (and usually spelled in the literature) þrjá, and fjóra are masculine accusative. This is in contrast with eitt which is neuter (accusative?). Cardinal numbers greater than 4 weren't declined in any way in Old Norse. The final note is that the reconstructed etymologies femm [fɛmː] and sjú [sɪ̯uː] are usually spelled fimm [fɪmː] and sjau [sɪ̯ɒ.ʊ] in the literature on Old Norse. The Old Jamtlandic dialect (like many other ON dialects) probably had femm and sjú, which is the reason I use these as etymologies.

To be continued...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Concrete examples

I think it'd be a good idea to take a concrete example from Vidar Reinhammar's contribution in Jämten 1987 (see this post). In the beginning of his contribution he discusses how Old Norse u [ʊ] today is pronounced in the Jamtlandic dialects. Supporting the idea a unified Jamtlandic is possible, I'll try to do my best to meet his examples. He writes (translated by me from Swedish to English, the red information being added by me for clarity):

"Old short u (Old Norse [ʊ]) appears in the Jamtlandic
dialects in most situations as u [ɵ], å [ɔ] or ô [ɞ] (i.e., a
sound between u [ɵ] and ö [ɶ]). Swedish hund [hɵnd]
('dog', ON acc. hund [hʊnd]) is pronounced in all of
Jämtland hunn [hɵnː], but Swedish mun [mɵnː]
('mouth', ON acc. munn [mʊnː]) is pronounced in
Alanäs, Ström, Hammerdal and Gåxsjö mônn [mɞnː],
in Lit, Häggenås, Laxsjö, Föllinge and Hotagen månn
[mɔnː] and in other Jamtlandic dialects munn [mɵnː].
The Swedish rhyme word tunn [tʰɵnː] ('thin', ON þunn-
[θʊnː]) is pronounced tunn [tʰɵnː] in Åre, Undersåker
and Kall and the Norwegian Lid dialect in Frostviken,
but tônn [tʰɞnː] in Lower Frostviken, Alanäs, Ström,
Hammerdal and Gåxsjö, Borgvattnet, Stugun, Ragunda,
Håsjö, Hällesjö, Nyhem, Bräcke, Bodsjö, Revsund,
Sundsjö (also tånn [tʰɔnː]) and Berg, and in other
Jamtlandic dialects as tånn [tʰɔnː]. If we consider
Swedish rund [ɾɵnd] ('round', ON rund- [rʊnd]) rhyming
with hund [hɵnd], it has like tunn [tʰɵnː] the
pronounciations runn [ɾɵnː], rônn [ɾɞnː] and rånn [ɾɔnː].
Thus, there's no uniformity in how Swedish u [ɵ] is
pronounced in the rhyming words mun [mɵnː], tunn
[tʰɵnː] and hund [hɵnd], rund [ɾɵnd], respectively."

Now, let's refute his argumentation. His argumentation is that except for how Swedish hund is pronounced, the dialects disagree on the choice between the possible [ɵ], [ɞ] and [ɔ]. Therefore, there's no way to employ a unified spelling for the words in question. I guess he also argue that the geographical distribution of [ɵ], [ɞ] and [ɔ] isn't even completely predictable when given a word whicb in Swedish (and Old Norse) has u.
The first issue is easily refuted by using the etymological principle. One could simply spell the words húnn, munn, tunn and runn. Note that short ú is always [ɵ] no matter the dialect. The second issue is more serious since given a dialect we don't know from the orthography only how munn, tunn and runn are supposed to be pronounced. This is solved by the following argumentation. It's obvious that there seem to be one geographical epicentre for each one of the possibilities [ɵ], [ɞ] and [ɔ]. In Western Jämtland one has an epicentre [ɵ], in Northeastern Jämtland one for [ɞ], and in Central Jämtland for [ɔ]. The exact distributions for every word varies, but the epicentres are always fixed. This suggests that the words individually have dissipated into "foreign" areas through not so well-defined boundaries. This means that the only dialects we sacrifice when fixing the spellings munn, tunn and runn are the boundary ones. For Jamtlandic as a whole, we can safely employ unified spellings. In "polished" Jamtlandic, one can choose a consistent way of pronouncing a short u, one just chosse one of the epicentres.

To conclude, we write húnn, munn, tunn and runn.

It's possible I'll return to other concrete examples which Reinhammar discusses in his contribution. I think they can all be solved in a similar way. In some cases one would probably have to defined what's the "best" (i.e., most genuine and/or distinctive) Jamtlandic.

The Oscarsson—Reinhammar "debate" in 1987

In the yearbook Jämten 1987 (ed. Sten Rentzhog) there was a theme, Te skriiv jämtska ('To Write Jamtlandic'; p. 166—188) on Jamtlandic. In the theme there are eight contributors writing an article each, where two stand out (at least in the context of the principles of creating an orthography): The young enthusiast Bo Oscarsson (1947-) who was (formally) an amateur in linguistics, and the veteran Vidar Reinhammar (1925—2000) who was one of the most prominent dialectologists in Sweden.

In Oscarsson's contribution, Jamskan och stavningen ('Jamtlandic and the Spelling'), it's argued against a phonetic spelling. The contributor wants an orthography which is consistent with other North Germanic languages' orthographies, which aren't based on phonetic principles. That is, he desires an orthography within the boundaries of the North Germanic tradition. He argues against using innovative, special letters to denote special sounds. Though not explicitly stated, he probably also wants a unified orthography for jamtlandic.
It should be noted here that Oscarsson had been a follower of the phonetic principle, but that after reading the work by the early pioneer Erik "Äcke" Olsson (1860—1916) who went from a phonetic spelling to a semi-etymological one, he changed his mind in 1976.

Reinhammar's contribution Jamska eller jämtmål? ('"Jamska" or Jamtlandic Dialect?', referring whether there's a Jamtlandic language or merely a set of similar dialects), which follows immediately after Oscarsson's though probably not written as a direct response, argues against a unified Jamtlandic orthography. His main argument is that the dialects are too different and that the status of the dialects which are not compatible with the unified orthography will be lowered and eventually extinct, just like how Jamtlandic has been lowered in status against Swedish. Reinhammar wants a diversity of dialects for which the writers can use whatever orthography they want. A unified orthography will in the end, he argues, destroy the dialects.

There's a fundamental difference between the two which explains why their views are different. This is how I interpret things. Oscarsson is a Jamtlandic nationalist, and it's the fate of the Jamtlandic language as a whole which is important. Reinhammar, being a dialectologist who doesn't acknowledge any Jamtlandic language, focuses on the dialects and argues that Jamtlandic is nothing more than the sum of the dialects labelled as Jamtlandic.
Boiling it all down, the "debate" is mainly one between a young, passionate patriot versus an old, cool scientist. They simple speak different languages, so to say. Their goals aren't the same, so their arguments become incompatible.

Personally, I feel that I support Oscarsson, though one needs to take it cool. Passion with scientific support is the model I follow in my own work. Oscarsson had the ambition, but unfortunately he didn't have the ability to employ his etymological principles in all aspects of the work on creating an orthography, and he compromised to much. (See below in the aftermath paragraph.) Oscarsson's main contribution to Jamtlandic has been his enthusiasm, and it was this that led me into the field a decade ago. But needless to say, it's the work of Reinhammar (and other dialectologists) which have the greatest relevance to me today. I hardly use Oscarsson's dictionary anymore, and it has become evident to me that he's too involved in "mammon". (I have suggested that the dictionary should be freely available on the internet as a pdf document, but this isn't possible due to legal contracts and copyright issues with the publisher Jengel.)

 Aftermath. In the mid 90's, the document Vägledning för stavning av jamska ('Guide to the Spelling of Jamtlandic') was made public as the outcome of the work of Akademien för jamska ('Academy of Jamtlandic') consisting of Bo Oscarsson, Bodil Bergner and Berta Magnusson. It's a semi-etymological orthography and semi-unified, i.e., it doesn't follow either of Oscarsson or Reinhammar in their Jämten 1987 contributions. I have been speaking with Oscarsson about this and he tells me that the reason is that he had to compromise. Interestingly, only Bo Oscarsson seems to follow the guide. Berta Magnusson, who is perhaps the most important writer in Jamtlandic who often publishes material for the local press, doesn't seem to follow her own guide today.
The current most important literary work with an orthography supposedly based on the guide is Nagur bibelteksta på jamska ('Some Bible Texts in Jamtlandic'). Unfortunately, since the guide is merely a "guide", the various contributors to the translations don't follow the proposed spelling.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The verb 'cut, hew'

Together with the references in this post I add a fourth one according to:

[1] Hammerdalsmålet, Vidar Reinhammar
[2] Klövsjöord, Gösta Edlund et al
[3] Orlboka - Ordbok över jamskan, Bo Oscarsson
[4] Åremålet, Anna-Lena Forsåker

Reference [4], a dictionary for the Åre dialect spoken in western Jämtland, will provide us with a third (and final?) basis element of the space of Jamtlandic dialects. (Sorry for the math jargon.)

I would like to analyze the spelling for the Jamtlandic word for 'hew, cut'. As always, we take a look at the Old Norse word in order to understand how to spell: hǫggva [hɒɡːu̯ɑ]. Even East Norse dialects seem to have u-umlaut for this word (Swedish has hugga rather than "hagga", see this site.) In Early Middle Jamtlandic (c.a 1350), the conjugation of the verb was in first person probably the following (inf.pres.imp.past part.):

[ hɑɡːɐ][hɑɡː][hɪ̯oː]/[hɪ̯ʊɡː][hʊɟːɪð]

(See here for how this may have evolved through analogisms etc.) In Hammerdal dialect (H), Klövsjö dialect (K) and Åre dialect (Å), the conjugation above has become (ref. [1,2,4]:

H: [hɔ.ɔɡː][hɔɡː][hɞɡː][hœdʒːə]
K: [haʊɡːə][haʊɡː][hɔɡː][hɔɡːə]
Å: [hɔ.ɔɡː][hɔɡː][hʊɡː][hʏɡːə]

This looks like a mess, but we'll try to sort things out. The pronounciations above are (naïvely) consistent with the spellings

H: hággehágghuggh(ø/y)ggjeð
K: hággehágghugghuggeð
Å: h(á/o)ggeh(á/o)gghógghyggeð

The first observation is that the alternative "hogge" (inf.) and "hogg" (pres.) with "o" instead of á is not possible. We also observe that hagg-
hágg- has occured through closing (and a less interesting rounding) of the vowel due to the gg consonant which kind of resembles [w]. (In the article Overlange stavingar i nordisk by Helge Sandøy in Nordiska dialektstudier, see this earlier post, it's clearly proven that there can have been no lengthening of the vowel before the closing.)

When it comes to the imperfect, we see that hugg clearly comes from an older hjugg. One probably doesn't have a dropped j, but rather an intermediate stage jugg in which one has replaced j with h through analogy with all other conjugations of the verb. The form hógg in the Åre dialect requires special attention. It may have been developed from hjó through first, then hógg through analogy with all other conjugations (first replace j with h, then add -gg in the end). The problem is that this probably isn't possible since one would have expected an intermediate form hjœ [
hɪ̯øː], which would have become "høgg" after the analogical development. Hence, hógg must be derived from hjugg, and it's probably due to a closing phenomenon with hugg → [hoɡː] as intermediate stages. Closing of [o] produces a desired [ʊ].

Finally, let's look at the past participle. Genuine Jamtlandic must have a softening here, i.e., -ggjeð rather than "-ggeð". (I am surprised both Klövsjö dialect and Åre dialect lack softening in this case. probably an analogism with the other conjugations.) In the Hammerdal dialect, a short y is often [ø] rather than an expected [
ʏ], so we have to choose between hyggjeð with i-umlaut and huggjeð without. I am pretty confident that Klövsjö dialect u for this word is an analogism with the imperfect rather than an archaism. The i-umlaut is employed in most Jamtlandic dialects in the past participle of strong verbs, so this is indeed a trademark of Jamtlandic. Thus, hyggjeð is the correct spelling.

To conclude, the conjugation of the Jamtlandic word
for 'cut, hew' is


Interestingly, we observe that the Hammerdal dialect is, among the three dialects studied, the most consistent with the Jamtlandic orthography in this case. It feels like this often is the case; it's possible that the Hammerdal dialect spoken in northeastern Jämtland is one of the most archaic dialects spoken in Jämtland.


I withdraw the following statement made in an earlier post:

Note though that due to the fact that we orthographically
respect syncopation in words with acute accent, we don't
need the shorthand hyphen in a word like hestn [hɛstn̩]
(acute accent) 'the horse', from ON acc. hest·inn, i.e.,
hest + inn. (Modern Jamtlandic indefinite form hest
[hɛst] 'horse'.)

I realized today that the definite form of mat [
mɑːt] 'food' is pronounced [mɑːtn̩], i.e., with a syncopation. According to the rule claimed above one would then spell "matn". Now, this will interfer with e.g. vatn [ʋatːn̩] 'water' (Old Norse vatn [wɑtn]). A solution could be to spell "vattn", but this will not be consistent with other aspects of my orthography. The simplest solution is to withdraw the rule stated above. That is, we will write hest·n [hɛstn̩].

To conclude, we write hest·n [hɛstn̩]
'the horse', mat·n [mɑːtn̩] 'the horse' etc.,
not "hestn", "matn" etc.

Note that this doesn't affect spellings like knéð [
kneː] 'the knee' instead of the completely redundant "kné·ð".

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Silent h

I am pretty confident in that not many would oppose the not so controversial idea to accept the combination hj- [j] even though the h is silent. For example, Old Norse hjorð [hɪ̯ɔrð] 'herd' has become Jamtlandic hjórð [juːɽ] where the h- is silent. This is how all North Germanic languages work, except Icelandic (pronounciation [ç]), to some extent in Faroese (both [j] and [tʃ] depending on word) and dialectally in "Bondska" (surpringly evolved into [he]).

It's also pretty obvious that the Old Norse combinations hl-, hn- and hr- (originally pronounced [xl], [xn] and [xr]), today preserved only in Icelandic (simplified to the assimilations [l̥], [n̥] and [r̥]), must be written l-, n- and r- in Jamtlandic. For example, ON hlíta [xliːtɑ] 'trust', acc. hnefa [xneβɑ] 'fist' and hrœra [xrøːrɑ] 'move, stir' have become Jamtlandic líte [liː.it], næva [næʋɐ] and røre [ɾøː.øɾ], respectively.

The interesting case that is left is hv-, in Old Norse pronounced [xw] (or, equivalently, [xu̯]). In Jamtlandic this first got simplified to [w̥], then to [w]. Note that at the stage when hv- was pronounced [w], v- was probably pronounced [ʋ] (in Old Norse [w], i.e., [u̯], without th [x] element). In fact, in 1791, Fale Burman (1758-1809) wrote in his Jamtlandic dictionary project:

1. gv, för att uttrycka orden hvila, hvass (acutus)
etc., hvilkas första consonant har sama uttal,
som wh i Engelskan.

This means that at least up until the early 19th century, hv- and v- were pronounced [w̥]/[w] and [ʋ], respectively. (I am not sure exactly how he thought English wh- was pronounced, but definitely not as [ʋ]/[v] which is the important thing.)

Apart from this modern historical fact, in northern Jämtland there's a North Trøndish dialect where ON hv- today is pronounced [kʋ]. (Perhaps not a very relevant fact, though.)

The observations above and the fact that Bokmål and Danish have hv- [ʋ], suggests that in Jamtlandic we should use hv- for historical hv-. For example, ON hvessa [xwesːɑ] 'sharpen' is in Jamtlandic hvesse [ʋɛ.ɛsː] (early 19th century: [w̥ɛ.ɛsː]/[wɛ.ɛsː]).

We conclude that we employ the
spelling hv- for historical hv-.

An important exception to the rule above is the case when ON hv- has turned into Jamtlandic [h], mainly in the ON combination hva-. For example, ON hvat [xwɑt] 'what' has become common Jamtlandic [hɔtː], so we spell it hut. (Note the choice of the vowel u, which happens to be the correct one to be consistent with all dialects.) This development probably suggests that between [xw] and [w̥] there was an intermediate stage [hw]/[hu̯]. This would give the following assumed development for ON hvat → J. hut:

hvat ~ [xwɑt] → [hu̯ɑt] → [hu̯ot] → [hʊt] → [hɔtː] ~ hut

We have assumed here that v was lost in Middle Jamtlandic, i.e., Jamtlandic as spoken in the period 1350-1500. (NB: Another common Jamtlandic word for 'what' is hvuð [ʋoː]/[ʋɔ], probably a developed from an old unstressed version of hut.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Softening and ·

One thing we didn't mention in the last post is what we do with softening of g and k in the case of the presence of a hyphen ·. As an example, take ON þak 'roof; ceiling', which in the definite form was þak·it 'the roof; the ceiling'. In Jamtlandic, ON þak·it has evolved into the pronounciation [tʰɑːtʃə] (acute accent) with a softening of the k due to the i. We have three possibilities here:

(1) We spell tak·eð using a rule that e is always
soft in all positions and situations;

(2a) We spell tak·jeð using a rule that e is not
soft in an unstressed position, and that the j
is associated with e;

(2b) We spell takj·eð using a rule that e is not
soft in an unstressed position, and that the j
is associated with k.

Of course, (1) means that ë would be used when there's no softening involved (e.g., takkë [ tʰakːə] (grave accent) 'thank', ON þakka). When choosing between (2a) and (2b) we note that the most etymological choice is (2a) since the j can be seen as being part of the etymological i causing the softening. The problem is of course that the hyphen will separate k and j in this case, but I think it possible to accept this "flaw". Note that both (2a) and (2b) means that ë can't be used in an unstressed position. (Unlike ï which can only be used in an unstressed position, which we will discuss in a future post.)

My personal choice between (1), (2a) and (2b) is (2a), i.e., tak·jeð.

We conclude that when using the hyphen · when
softening of g or k is involved, we write g·j or k·j,

As examples, consider

veg·jen [ʋɛjːən] 'the road',
from ON acc. veg·inn [weɣɪnː];

serk·jen [sæʂːən] 'the sark',
from ON acc. serk·inn [sɛrcɪnː];and

bełk·jen [bæʈʂən] 'the beam; the section',
from ON acc. balk·inn.

stokk·jen [stɔtʃːən]/[statʃːən]/[stɞtʃːən] 'the log',
from ON acc. stokk·inn.

All examples have an acute accent. Note also that stokk 'log' is pronounced [stakː] in Hammerdal and [stɞkː] in Klövsjö, both consistent with a vowel o rather than u. If the spelling would've been "stukk" the most common pronounciation would still be [stɔkː], which would be the pronounciation in Klövsjö too, but [stɞkː] in Hammerdal. Though slightly off topic, I think it's a good idea to write down how short a, á, o and u are pronounced in common Jamtlandic (C), Hammerdal dialect (H) and Klövsjö dialect (K):


This is pretty complicated, and is due to how ON (or rather Old Jamtlandic to be specific) a [ɑ], á [ɒː], o [ɔ] and u [ʊ] have evolved in different parts of Jämtland.