Gjert Kristoffersen graduated from the University of Bergen in 1978. He has worked as Assistant Professor of General Linguistics and of Nordic Languages at the University of Tromsø (1979-84); Editor at the Norwegian University Press (Universitetsforlaget) in Tromsø and Oslo (1984-88); and Associate Professor of Nordic Languages at the University of Tromsø (1988-91). From 1991 he has held the post of Professor of Nordic Languages at the University of Bergen. He is the author of numerous articles on sociolinguistics and phonology in Scandinavian journals and anthologies.
The Phonology of Norwegianby Gjert Kristoffersen
A the end of the fourteenth century, Norway, having previously been an independent kingdom, became by conquest a province of Denmark and remained so for three centuries. In1814, as part of the fall-out from the Napoleonic wars, the country became a largely independent nation within the monarchy of Sweden. By this time, however, Danish had become the language of… See more details below
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A the end of the fourteenth century, Norway, having previously been an independent kingdom, became by conquest a province of Denmark and remained so for three centuries. In1814, as part of the fall-out from the Napoleonic wars, the country became a largely independent nation within the monarchy of Sweden. By this time, however, Danish had become the language of government, commerce, and education, as well as of the middle and upper classes. Nationalistic Norwegians sought to reestablish native identity by creating and promulgating a new language based partly on rural dialects and partly on Old Norse. The upper and middle classes sought to retain a form of Norwegian close to Danish that would be intelligible to themselves and to their neighbours in Sweden and Denmark. The controversy has gone on ever since. One result is that the standard dictionaries of Norwegian ignore pronunciation, for no version can be counted as 'received'. Another is that there has been considerable variety and change in Norwegian over the last 180 years, all of which is well documented. In this pioneering account of Norwegian phonology, Gjert Kristoffersen mines the evidence to present an original analysis of the ways in which the sounds and meanings of competing languages change and evolve.
The book is written within the framework of generative phonology, making use of insights derived from Optimality Theory. Its main, and successful, purpose is to present the phonological system of Norwegian clearly and concisely.
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This book is a description of what the author calls UEN or "Urban East Norwegian". It is a book which is meant for those with a real interest in the linguistics of Norwegian. If you simply want to learn the language of your immigrant grandparents, forget this book. It is heavy in linguistic terminology and could be almost impossible to understand for those who have no linguistic background. (It is not a candidate for Oprah's bookclub.) For those who have a real interest in Germanic Linguistics, and especially for the Scandinavian branch, it can be invaluable. It is an exhaustive review of Norwegian phonology. I especially liked his treatment of the Norwegian tones. In the two chapters devoted to them, he does a fantastic job of describing them and in showing how each might be predicted to appear on any given Norwegian word. As stated above, this is not a book meant for those with only a casual interest in Norwegian. For scholars and those with a serious interest in linguistics, however, I strongly recommend it.