9: The Leka dialect of Norwegian
Written by Linden Alexander Pentecost, December 2021 and January 2022
This section includes in brief: introduction, the island of Leka, geology, Mesolithic Leka, the Bronze Age and possible connections to the mythology and dialect of Leka, introduction, pronunciation, pronouns, sentences, features, further resources. This section contains 913 words.
The following is a short report or article about the Leka dialect of Norwegian. I am grateful to those people on Leka who have contacted me and shared information with me about the dialect on the island. I hope that the following provides an interesting contribution and it is also my way of saying thank you.
Leka is an island, situated off the coast of Nord-Trøndelag, a county of Norway, which, along with Sør-Trøndelag, make up the general region where the Trønder or Trøndersk Norwegian dialects are spoken. There are many smaller dialects within Trøndersk, some, like those of Trondheim, are closer to standard østnorsk, while the older dialects of Trøndelag are much more different to standard østnorsk, and I think probably began as a separate language area in the distant past.
Leka has very interesting geology, the main rock is serpentine, which is a greenish colour, but on the surface appears in yellows, reds and oranges, in some ways, Leka appears like somewhere in America, and this is actually not far from the truth, because technically Leka is, geologically speaking, a part of America which was left behind in Europe, when the North American plate separated. The island has small mountains, forest, and open, coastal areas, with complex inlets and islets around the coastline. Human history on the island also goes back a long way. There were people on Leka during the Mesolithic time, and the raised beaches from the ancient past can be found I think in parts of the island. Little seems to be known about these early people, but they may have shared a similar culture and language to the Mesolithic people on the Lofoten Islands to the north, and in various other parts of Western Norway. During the Bronze Age, the same groups of people may have been involved in the creation of cave art, found in various caves, including Solsemhula on the island of Leka, and Finnshula slightly to the north. The Sámi people have been in Scandinavia for a very long time, and it is quite possible that this culture is connected to them, and then perhaps some elements of the ancient language on Leka may be found in the Sámi languages. Furthermore, something of the ancient language and culture has probably continued on Leka itself, in the Leka dialect and in the local folklore about place-names, indeed I wonder if the name Leka, or in dialect: Lækka, is itself the Mesolithic name for the island.
The Norwegian dialect of Leka is typically West Norwegian and Trøndersk, but it still has features which make it unique and distinct, including from the nearest dialects around it. A distinction of the dialect is that certain verbs have the ending -i in the present tense. The information and examples below are given in both Leka dialect, above, and standard written Bokmål below.
The pronunciation of the Leka dialect, is in many ways similar to that of other Trøndersk dialects. Trøndersk, like many Western and Northern Norwegian dialects, has palatal consonants. These are indicated with j, e.g. mannj - a man. The so called Thick L is written L, as in fjoLan - 'fjords', fjordene in Bokmål, soLa - 'the sun', Bokmål: sola, solen.
eg - jeg - I
du - du - you singular, thou
hannj - han - he
ho - hun - she
de - det - it (neuter, general)
dennj - den - it (nouns with gender)
vi - vi - we
dokk/di - dere - you (plural)
dæm - de - they
ke? - hva? - what?
kor? - hvor? - where?
keffer? - hvorfor? - why?
kelles? - hvordan? - how?
e du frå Lækka? - are you from Leka?
er du fra Leka?
ja, eg e frå Lækka - yes I am from Leka
ja, jeg er fra Leka
næi, eg e 'kji frå Lækka - no, I am not from Leka
nei, jeg er ikke fra Leka
kelles ha du det? - how are you?
hvordan har du det?
eg reisi te Lækka imorn - I travel to Leka tomorrow
jeg reiser til Leka i morgen
One of the unique features of the Leka dialect, in the traditional dialect, is having -i as in the final vowel in certain words, which would commonly have e. The -r of the present tense verb conjugation in Bokmål and Nynorsk is not usually present. But the change in the vowel is unusual and unique to Leka, e.g. eg reisi for the Bokmål jeg reiser
Leka Norwegian eg har kommi, 'I have come', Bokmål Norwegian jeg har kommet
As well as this description of the Leka dialect, there is also a more comprehensive wordlist (which refers to common Norwegian words attested in the Leka dialect, rather than to completely unique vocabulary as such), but nevertheless these words are Leka examples and many of them show divergence from other dialects, including other Trøndersk dialects. This is available together with a comparison of other Norwegian dialects, in my free ebook Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage in the section Norwegian dialect tables on pages 39, 40 and 41.