Languages of Svalbard
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Svalbard has a population of approximately 2,395 people as of 2011. Approximately 70% of the people are Norwegian; the remaining 30% are Russian and Ukrainian. The official language of Svalbard is Norwegian. Russian is used in the Russian settlements, but formerly, Russenorsk was the lingua franca of the entire Barents Sea region.
The annual population growth is -0.02%, but as may be seen from the following chart, the ex-Soviet population has atrophied, while the Norwegians have been increasing.
There is a Polish Polar Station at Hornsund.
Mainly Russian-speaking settlements include Barentsburg.
Some Russian is spoken in Svalbard's capital Longyearbyen, and appears in some signage.
English was spoken from the many whaling settlements established in Svalbard from 1611 to 1670.
Former and extinct languages
The history of Russenorsk or Russonorsk (Norwegian for "Russo-Norwegian") is mainly limited to the 18th and 19th centuries. The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought about an end to its use; it is reported that the last Norwegian–Russian trade occurred in 1923, marking the last use of Russenorsk.
It was a pidgin language combining elements of Russian and Norwegian, created by traders and whalers from northern Norway and the Russian Kola peninsula. Another name for the language was Moja på tvoja that parodied a perverted Russian phrase, meaning something like "I can speak in your language" (from the Russian words моя (moya) "my", по (po) here used to mean "in" твоя (tvoya) "your")
Swedish and Norwegian are mutually comprehensible to a considerable degree.
Pyramiden, which later became Soviet, was founded by a Swedish company in 1910.
- Web publication of Statistics Norway, the official body for such data in Norway. Units provided are metric only; no unit conversions provided here.
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