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How Norway’s language council has simplified Norwegian

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
How Norway’s language council has simplified Norwegian
Norway's language council has updated the rules for how contractions are used in the Bokmål written form. Pictured is a dictionary page. Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Changes have been made to the Norwegian language to try and streamline the rules when using many common words in Bokmål, The Language Council of Norway announced this week. 

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Norway’s Ministry of Culture and Equality approved the changes on September 26th to simplify Bokmål, one of Norway’s two written languages. 

The rule changes primarily apply to neuter nouns in Bokmål and the plural of Latin words. A neuter noun is a noun that denotes a lifeless thing. 

In Norwegian, they are identified as those that adopt the definite article et as a suffix in their definite form. For example, et bord (a table) becomes bordet (the table). 

With some Norwegian neuter nouns, there has been a choice of choosing a form with or without a contraction when using the definite singular form. 

For example, ankret or ankeret (the anchor), kapitlet or kapittelet (the chapter), and teatret or teateret (the theatre). 

Under the new rules, the contractions have been scrapped, and only the form of the words without the contraction will be considered correct. So, ankeret, kapittelet and teateret become the correct forms of the anchor, the chapter and the theatre. 

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Despite the proposed changes being subject to a public consultation early last year, the changes have only recently been ratified as the government had to approve them. This is due to the changes affecting many commonly used words.

Changes have also been made to the inflection of several Latin words. This is to simplify the language rules and cut down on the different word bending patterns. Plural forms such as deposita (from depositum) and referenda (referendum) have been dropped. A number of little-used option forms have also been dropped, such as stipendium (stipend) and verbum (word). 

A full overview of the words that have been changed and their new proper forms is available online from The Language Council of Norway

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