The Phonology of Norwegian

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Oxford University Press, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 366 pages
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This is a comprehensive account of the phonetic and phonological properties of Norwegian. The author considers the structure of the lexicon and the principles by which the ordering of sounds in Norwegian can be defined. He then discusses word phonology and its interaction with lexicalstructure; the principles of syllabification; the placement of stress; the tonal accents characteristic of most dialects; intonation; and connected speech. Dr Kristoffersen concludes with an analysis of the complex relations between written and spoken language in Norway.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 ofSweden. 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 re-establish native identity by creating and promulgating a new language based partly on rural dialects and partly onOld 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 analysisof 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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About the author (2007)


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 Tromsų (1979-84); Editor at the Norwegian University Press (Universitetsforlaget) in Tromsų and Oslo (1984-88); and Associate Professor of Nordic Languages at the University of Tromsų (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.

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