Middle Norwegian

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Middle Norwegian
Middle Norwegian: nornskr mál[1]
Bokmål / Nynorsk: mellomnorsk
Landsmål: millomnorsk
RegionKingdom of Norway (872–1397), Kalmar Union, Denmark–Norway
Era14th–16th century
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Middle Norwegian (Norwegian Bokmål: mellomnorsk; Norwegian Nynorsk: mellomnorsk, millomnorsk) is a form of the Norwegian language that was spoken from 1350 up to 1550 and was the last phase of Norwegian in its original state, before Danish replaced Norwegian as the official written language of what is now Norway.

Language history[edit]

The Black Death came to Norway in 1349, killing over 60% of the population.[2] This probably precipitated the current process of language development.

The language in Norway after 1350 until about 1550 is generally referred to as Middle Norwegian. During this period the language went through several changes: morphological paradigms were simplified, including the loss of grammatical cases and the levelling of personal inflection on verbs. A vowel reduction also took place, in some dialects, including in parts of Norway, reducing many final unstressed vowels in a word to a common "e".

The phonemic inventory also underwent changes. The dental fricatives, represented by the letters þ and ð, disappeared from Norwegian, either by merging with their equivalent stop consonants, represented by t and d, respectively, or by being lost altogether.

Danicisation of the written language[edit]

During the 15th century, Middle Norwegian gradually ceased to be used as a written language. At the end of the 16th century, Christian IV of Denmark (1577-1648) decided to revise and translate into Danish Magnus VI of Norway's (1238-1280) 13th century Landslov "Country Law", which was originally written in Old West Norse. In 1604 the revised version of the law was introduced. The translation of this law marks the final transition to Danish as the administrative language in Norway.[3]


  1. ^ "Bokmålsordboka - Nynorskordboka". ordbok.uib.no.
  2. ^ Harald Aastorp (2004-08-01). "Svartedauden enda verre enn antatt". Forskning.no. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  3. ^ Det norske samlaget 2007. "Språk i Norge på 1500-tallet". stovnernorsk2st4d.wikispaces.com. Retrieved 4 April 2016.