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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Loss of case and declined grammar in mainland Scandinavian grammar|
|Question:||What has bugged me for a long time, is not being able to understand what exactly changes certain parts of grammar such as cases or declination; when I look at Swedish or Danish, they seem to have both lost a full set of Germanic cases and generally use the same present-tense conjugation for every speaker/pronoun regardless of gender or number. Yet Icelandic kept a lot of the Old Norse features, which of course is understandable, considering its distance from the mainland and their efforts to maintain linguistic purity. But I still do not know why or how Norwegian, Danish and Swedish have ditched the typical old Norse style grammar - I don't know what has catalysed this. Is it a social or a cognitive change? I hope you can help me. James Puchowski - A-level student, High Wycombe - Great Britain|
|Reply:||You are correct that languages more distant from their sister languages often maintain archaic features lost in the rest of the family. Icelandic is a classic case of this. The reasons why a language evolves in a certain direction are complex and can involve internal grammatical factors and external social factors including contact with other languages. A book examing the history of Scandinavian would probably provide some insight.|
|Reply From:||Elizabeth J Pyatt click here to access email|