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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

A book examing the history of Scandinavian would probably provide some insight.

Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 22-Aug-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Loss of case and declined grammar in mainland Scandinavian grammar    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (22-Aug-2012)
  2. Re: Loss of case and declined grammar in mainland Scandinavian grammar    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (23-Aug-2012)

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