Monday, July 21, 2008

Nordiska dialektstudier

A couple of weeks ago I borrowed from the university library the book Nordiska dialektstudier (fifth Nordic dialect dialectology conference, 1994), editor Maj Reinhammar.

The contribution Dialekterna och språkhistorien - Till frågan om en gamla au-diftongens utveckling i nordiska språk by Lennart Elmevik discusses the au diphthong and how it has developed in Nordic languages. He seems to claim that there are numerous examples of the development au ó in Nordic dialects. This assumes the middle stages ǫu and (later) long ǫ.

The relevance to Jamtlandic is that this gives us a hint on how we should spell the old au diphthong. As is well-known, the semi-official spelling today given by
Vägledning för stavning av jamska assumes a spelling au, probably based on how one spells in Norwegian. Early Old Norse used to have three separate diphthongs: ai, au and ey. Due to a generalized, regressive umlaut process, ai and ey (the y pronounced rounded) turned into ei and øy. In Norwegian this is how one spells: ei, au and øy. A later umlaut is, following Elmevik, au ǫu. This seems to have affected all Nordic dialects except Gutnish and (possibly) Danish and/or Faroese. The Jamtlandic pronounciation of the old au diphtong is fully compatible with the umlauted ǫu. This suggests a spelling ou (the letter ǫ is not employed elswhere, so we use o instead). Note the consistency with øy. Indeed, øy is manifestively the i-umlaut of ou, just like how Early Old Norse ey is manifestively the i-umlaut of au.

To conclude, the three (old) diphthongs
of Jamtlandic are ei, ou and øy.

Later I'll discuss other contributions in the book Nordiska dialektstudier. I'll use a couple of treatises on Jamtlandic dialects as aids, namely Klövsjöord by Gösta Edlund et al and Hammerdalsmålet by Vidar Reinhammar. I have chosen the dialects spoken in Klövsjö in the south and Hammerdal in the northeast since they are, in a sense, mutually complementary with eachother and with the dialect spoken (traditionally) where I grew up in western/central Jämtland.

1 comment:

Adam Emil Skoog said...

I'd still prefer ‹au›... If Icelandic can use it to represent [9Y], then surely you can use for the Jamtlandic sound...