Recommend to your Librarian

Language Planning as a Sociolinguistic Experiment

The Case of Modern Norwegian

Ernst Håkon Jahr

eBook (PDF) i

A study of language planning using Norwegian as a case study

2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Norwegian nation following centuries of Danish rule. This book gives a comprehensive account of that entire 200-year period, and analyses how Norwegians defined, fought over, and developed their own independent Scandinavian language, differentiating it from Danish and Swedish, through language planning. The almost two centuries of Norwegian language planning and conflict encompassed an extraordinary sociolinguistic experiment which led to decades of intense linguistic struggle and which has had no parallel anywhere else in the world.

Show more


Land and people, language and language planning
Part I: The Nationalist Period, 1814-1917
Before the start of language planning: 1814-1845
A language based on upper-middle-class speech or peasant dialects? The programmes proposed by Knud Knudsen and Ivar Aasen
The language question becomes a major political issue: 1860-1907
Two Norwegian written standards – is linguistic reconciliation possible? Early 20th century up to the 1917 language reforms
Part II: The Sociopolitical Period, 1917-1966
The post-war language struggle (1945-1966) to counter the sociolinguistic experiment of 1938
Part III: From a Single-Standard to a Two-Standard Strategy
The end of the single-standard policy (1966-2002): reforms in 1981 and 2005 (for Bokmål) and 2012 (for Nynorsk)
Summary and concluding remarks
List of terms for language varieties discussed in this book
Timeline for the important terms in this book and the different written varieties
Timetable of important events for language planning and conflict in modern Norway.

About the Author

Ernst Håkon Jahr is Professor of Scandinavian Linguistics, Department of Nordic and Media Studies and Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Education, at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway


The sociolinguistic situation in Norway today is testimony to the maturity of this tolerant and egalitarian nation: local dialects have very high status, and Standard Norwegian comes in two significantly different varieties. How this situation developed over the last two centuries is a fascinating story – which Ernst Håkon Jahr tells brilliantly, with enormous erudition, insight and verve.

- Peter Trudgill, University of East Anglia

In my view, Jahr has succeeded well with his project: to describe how modern Norwegian language history is closely combined with political history, and how language planning was a political project... First and foremost Language Planning as a Sociolinguistic Experiment is a book that makes the special Norwegian language situation accessible for foreign scientists engaged with language policy and language planning.
Translated from Norwegian

- Ivar Berg, NTNU, Norsk Lingvistisk tidsskrift