Saturday, August 16, 2008
The clusters łg/rg and gd
The clusters łg/rg
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 gð [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".)