Norwegian: using dictionary

littlepond

Senior Member
Hindi
Hei alle sammen!

I sometimes see multiple forms of a noun (substantive) in the online Bokmåalsordboka. For example, the word "stoff" is indicated as a neuter noun, marked by "n3". Its plural indef. and def. forms are listed as: either "stoff" and "stoffa", or "stoffer" and "stoffa", or "stoff" and "stoffene", or "stoffer" and "stoffene". Basically, 2 possible indef. forms and 2 possible def. forms. Does it mean any of them is correct to use, and maybe the usage depends on the speaker? Or on the dialect?

Also, what does the "3" in "n3" signify? Some words are marked just as "n" (e.g. "tømmer"), but again several possible plural forms exist.

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hei alle sammen!

    I sometimes see multiple forms of a noun (substantive) in the online Bokmåalsordboka. For example, the word "stoff" is indicated as a neuter noun, marked by "n3". Its plural indef. and def. forms are listed as: either "stoff" and "stoffa", or "stoffer" and "stoffa", or "stoff" and "stoffene", or "stoffer" and "stoffene". Basically, 2 possible indef. forms and 2 possible def. forms. Does it mean any of them is correct to use, and maybe the usage depends on the speaker? Or on the dialect?

    Also, what does the "3" in "n3" signify? Some words are marked just as "n" (e.g. "tømmer"), but again several possible plural forms exist.

    Thanks in advance!
    Hei littlepond,
    Norwegian has two codified written "forms" (bokmål and nynorsk) but no officially approved spoken standard language.
    People use a myriad of dialects both in private conversations and at official occasions. The codified bokmål has a myriad of alternative forms of declension as a concession to the people that speak different dialects. This is frowned at by some people that prefer a more strict codification of the written language, and they avoid most of the alternative declension forms, but the official line is that almost anything is allowed.
     

    Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    There is a historical explanation for this variation.

    Nynorsk (Landsmål) was developed on the basis of spoken dialects around 1850.
    Bokmål (Riksmål) was developed from Danish, mostly after 1900.

    The official language policy through most of the 20th century was that Nynorsk and Bokmål should gradually be reformed and led closer together, eventually to become Samnorsk. This goal was never reached, and the policy of approximation was officially abandoned in 2002.

    For instance, around 1900 "the sun" was soli in Landsmål and solen in Riksmål. Later, sola was introduced as a common form in both, while the old forms were still allowed in writing but intended to be phased out eventually. In some cases, this has happened, in other cases not. Nynorsk now only has sola, while Bokmål still has both sola and solen.

    In the case of stoff, the Danish plurals are stoffer and stofferne. The latter was changed to stoffene. The forms stoff and stoffa were introduced as forms common to Bokmål and Nynorsk, while the older forms were kept. Similar situations are found for the past forms of verbs, definite singular of feminine nouns, variation between e and ei etc. etc.
     
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