Middle Norwegian

Middle Norwegian
Mellomnorsk / Millomnorsk
Region Kingdom of Norway (872–1397), Kalmar Union, Denmark–Norway
Era 14th16th century
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog None

Middle Norwegian (Norwegian: mellomnorsk, middelnorsk, millomnorsk) is a form of the Norwegian language that was spoken from 1350 an up to 1550 and was the last phase of Norwegian at its original state, before the Danish language replaced the Norwegian written language.

Language history

The Black Death came to Norway in 1349, killing over 60% of the population.[1] This probably precipitated the current process of language development.

The language in Norway after 1350 up to about 1550 is generally referred to as Middle Norwegian. The language went through several changes: morphological paradigms were simplified, including the loss of grammatical cases and the levelling of personal inflection on verbs. A vowel reduction also took place, in some dialects, including in parts of Norway, reducing many final unstressed vowels in a word to a common "e".

The phonemic inventory also underwent changes. The dental fricatives, represented by the letters þ and ð disappeared from the Norwegian language, either merging with their equivalent stop consonants, represented by t and d, respectively, or being lost altogether.

Disintegrating of the written language

During the 15th century, the written language of Norway, known as Middle Norwegian at its last phase, gradually ceased being used. At the end of the 16th century, Christian IV of Denmark (1577-1648) decided to revise and translate Magnus VI of Norway's (1238-1280) Landslov "Country Law" from 13th century into Danish, which was written in Old West Norse. In 1604 the revised version of the law was introduced. The translation of this law marks the final transition to Danish as administrative language in Norway.[2]


  1. Harald Aastorp (2004-08-01). "Svartedauden enda verre enn antatt". Forskning.no. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  2. Det norske samlaget 2007. "Språk i Norge på 1500-tallet". stovnernorsk2st4d.wikispaces.com. Retrieved 4 April 2016.

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