martes, 11 de octubre de 2016

ELFDALIAN: SWEDEN´S SECRET FOREST LANGUAGE


Elfdalian or Övdalian is a North Germanic language spoken by about 3 – 5000 people in the Älvdalen Municipality in Northern Dalarna in central Sweden. Elfdalian is considered to be a separate language by some linguists, but many others believe it to be a dialect of Swedish. It has developed in relative isolation since the Middle Ages and maintains a number of features of Old Norse not found in other Northern Germanic languages, not even in Icelandic. As a result, Elfdalian differs markedly from Swedish and can be difficult for other Swedes to understand.

Runes were used to write Elfdalian until the early 20th century. Carved on small sticks, people used the Runic alphabet to send small messages to each other; just like the tradition must have been in the Middle Ages in the rest of Scandinavia. However, a new standard orthography for Elfdalian was devised in 2005 by Råðdjärum (The Elfdalian Language Council), and accepted by Ulum Dalska (The Organization for the Preservation of Elfdalian).

The ancient dialect of Elfdalian ( älvdalska in Swedish andövdalsk in the language itself) was a vigorous language until well into the 20th century. Sounding to listeners like a beautiful and complex language as spoken by the Elven race in fantasy epics, Elfdalian is actually derived from Old Norse, the language of the Vikings. However, it is radically different from Swedish, writes university of copenhagen linguist Dr. Guus Kroonen.

He explains that it “sounds like something you would more likely encounter in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings rather than in a remote Swedish forest.” It can be heard on the video below.


Elfdalian is unique among Nordic languages, expressing itself with different tones and sounds. Even the grammar and vocabulary are unlike Swedish. So while speakers of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are able to have simple conversations and understand each other, not so with Elfdalian. So far removed from Swedish, (even while originating from the same region,) it is completely unintelligible to non-local Swedes.

A runic alphabet known as Dalecarlian Runes was used to write Elfdalian until 1900. The Latin alphabet was also used to write Elfdalian from the 17th century.

Delicardian Runes: