Happy bicentenary, Mr Aasen / News / The Foreigner

Happy bicentenary, Mr Aasen. One of Norway’s most influential figures would have celebrated his 200th Birthday today, 05th August 2013. Ivar Aasen, the so-termed ‘Father of Nynorsk’, spent 23 years travelling around, then creating a new language. Philologist, lexicographer, writer, and poet Ivar Andreas Aasen was born in western Norway’s Ørsta, a municipality and village in Møre og Romsdal county. Aasen travelled round the country, except to Finnmark county in the north, placing emphasis on dialects in western and inner eastern parts of Norway – such as Telemark county.

ivaraasen, nynorsk, norwaylanguage, learnnorwegian



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Happy bicentenary, Mr Aasen

Published on Monday, 5th August, 2013 at 21:18 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

One of Norway’s most influential figures would have celebrated his 200th Birthday today, 05th August 2013. Ivar Aasen, the so-termed ‘Father of Nynorsk’, spent 23 years travelling around, then creating a new language.

Portrait of Ivar Aasen
Portrait of Ivar Aasen
Photo: The National Library of Norway/Flickr


Philologist, lexicographer, writer, and poet Ivar Andreas Aasen was born in western Norway’s Ørsta, a municipality and village in Møre og Romsdal county.

Aasen travelled round the country, except to Finnmark county in the north, placing emphasis on dialects in western and inner eastern parts of Norway – such as Telemark county.

This was because he felt it was less influenced by Danish-based Bokmål (then Riksmål), and therefore more Norwegian. He also collected sayings on his travels.

Nynorsk, his language, was established in 1885 as a new written one on an equal footing with Bokmål. Aasen gave out two different dictionaries, which have 69,000 words together. A book on Norwegian grammar (Norsk grammatikk) was also published in 1876.

Why does Norway have two languages?

“This dates back to the 1800s when Norway was celebrating its newly-won freedom as an independent nation,” Arnfinn Muruvik Vonen, director of state Norwegian language advisory board Språkrådet, told The Foreigner earlier today.

“The question arose as to which language form to employ. Should people continue using a Danish-based form (Bokmål), but with adjustments to mirror how people spoke more in Norway at the time, or should one construct a new language form (Nynorsk) which better-reflected the Norwegian spoken in the Middle Ages (Gammel norsk) when Norway was a free country? Ivar Aasen took the latter position,” added Mr Vonen.

How is your organisation celebrating today?

“I laid some flowers at Ivar Aasen’s grave at Oslo’s Vår frelsers gravlund cemetery in the Gamle Aker district where he is buried. Later on, I shall be travelling to Ørsta. There is also a museum dedicated to him there, known as Ivar Aasen-tunet,” Mr Vonen remarked.

“Minister of Culture Hadia Tajik will be the main speaker. I view Aasen as being Norway’s foremost language researcher, as well as a great poet.”

The son of farmer Ivar Jonsson, the farm Ivar Aasen grew up on was so remote, that he did not have many friends.

Aasen also did not spend a lot of time at school, but cultivated his education by reading a lot. He opened an elementary school when he was just 18 years old.

Some 11 years after his father died in 1826, he began to systematically explore the vocal-rich dialect of Sunnmøre, Møre og Romsdal’s southernmost district.

He then travelled to Bergen in 1841, where he met teacher Frederic Molte Bugge through then Bishop Jacob Neumann.

Bugge, was head (Praeses) of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (Det Konglige Norske Vitenskabers Selskab (DKNVS)).

He got the DKNVS to grant Ivar Aasen a stipend to research rural dialects in Norway, which could serve as a basis for “a common and genuine written-based language”.

Also celebrating the bicentenary of Ivar Aasen’s birth today is Nynorsk interest organisation Noregs mållag. The Foreigner spoke with leader Marit Aakre Tennø.

Where are we today with Nynorsk, 200 years on?

“Language changes all the time, of course, but sentence structure and declension patterns have remained true to the language’s roots,” she said.

“Nynorsk was used more before the Second World War than afterwards, but has stabilized now, with more usage in Nynorsk areas.”

Nevertheless, not everyone – including schoolchildren in Oslo – is happy either having to learn or write Nynorsk.

“There’s pressure around Bergen, for example, both for using and doing away with it”, explains Ms Tennø, “with parents choosing a preference for one of the other. Some municipalities call themselves “language neutral, but we know this really means they use Bokmål,” explained Ms Tennø

What else would you like to say on this historic day?

“We think we should use the opportunity to say something about Nynorsk. The state should also take more responsibility to introduce wider use of this language in Norway, ‘increased nynorsk in everyday life’, as I would put it,” she said.




Published on Monday, 5th August, 2013 at 21:18 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: ivaraasen, nynorsk, norwaylanguage, learnnorwegian.





  
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