20: The Salten Dialect of Norwegian

Written and published by Linden Alexander Pentecost, published on the 4th of September 2023, the same date that the website section "19: A discussion on some Southern Sámi etymologies" was completed. This section includes: an introduction to the Salten Dialect, a background on Norwegian dialects and why they vary, A little about where the Salten Dialect is spoken, features of the Salten Dialect (pronunciation, examples and other points), references and Some other works on Northern Norwegian by the author and other links, and a final sentence in Italics. This section of the www.bookofdunbarra.co.uk website contains: 1596 words.


The Salten Dialect is a dialect or dialect-group of Northern Norwegian dialects, spoken in the Salten Region of the county of Nordland, and not far from the city of Bodø.

The Norwegian language can vary a fair amount from place to place, this is partially due to original dialect differences, and partially due to how ’broad’ a dialect is, in terms of how it matches the standard written languages, Bokmål and Nynorsk. In the case of Bokmål, the prestige spoken variant of Norwegian that perhaps best matches Bokmål is the so-called Standard Eastern Norwegian, or standard østnorsk.

Whilst the Nynorsk spelling more closely matches the phonetics and grammar of many of the traditional dialects in Norway, sometimes these dialects vary in ways, that make Nynorsk not an ideal candidate for writing them.

In terms of how Bokmål and Standard Eastern Norwegian interface with the traditional dialects, Standard Østnorsk, and the general use of Bokmål, spread to Urban parts of Norway often before it reached rural areas. Narvik and Bodø are urban areas, cities, and so the dialects of Narvik and Bodø have both been influenced, and are rather obviously connected to Standard Eastern Norwegian, particularly in their choice of vocabulary and verb forms. These dialects do nevertheless contain a Northern Norwegian ”accent” and preserve features of the local Northern Norwegian dialects, to a large extent in the prosody, and to some extent the general pronunciation, verbs and vocabulary.



A little about where the Salten Dialect is spoken:


The Salten Dialect is spoken in the Salten region, an area around the Saltfjorden, a large fjord or fjord-complex, with a very narrow entrance. The tidal stream that flows through this narrow entrance is known as the Saltstraumen, and is one of the most powerful tidal streams in the world, owing to the amount of water contained in the Saltfjorden and the fact that the water flowing in and out, must flow through the narrow Saltstraumen Strait. To the south of the Saltfjord, the mountains slowly rise into the Saltfjellet Svartisen mountain range and glacial region. The Salten dialect is primarily spoken in the sometimes fertile rural areas around the Saltfjorden itself, although it may sometimes also refer to the Bodø and nearby coastal dialects, although this may not be an entirely correct classification of those dialects, even if they share much in common with the Salten Dialect traditionally.


Features of the Salten Dialect:

In the section below, after the three pronunciation points, there are bullet points, followed by descriptions of different aspects of the Salten Dialect. Although some of the spellings are talked about after the bullet points, I will first point out below some of the basic pronunciation features not talked about after the bullet points.

1). A hook below a consonant indicates a palatal consonant, for example is a palatalised l, [lʲ], and is a palatalised n, [nʲ]

2). The letter ꝁ̡  indicates a form of palatal [t], but closer in pronunciation to a softer version of the English 'ch' as in 'chip'.
3). The letter ł̣ indicates a "thick L", often written as L in Nordic dialects, e.g. Trøndersk daL'n for Bokmål dalen - the valley, and dialectal southeast Norwegian likevæL - nevertheless, for Bokmål likevel.

.The Salten Dialect has extensive palatalisation, which is also common to different degrees in many Northern, Trøndersk and Western Norwegian dialects. Examples in the Salten Dialect include: kaᶅᶅꝁ̡ - cold, Bokmål: kald, Nynorsk: kald, ꝁ̡ø̂ir - to drive, Bokmål: kjøre, bjŷᶇᶇ - begin, Bokmål: begynne, also for example bjŷᶇᶇꝁ̡ - begun, Bokmål: begynte, slêᶁᶁ - sledge, Bokmål: slegge, viᶇᶇ´ꝁ̡er - winter, but with a plual viᶇᶇ`tra, Bokmål vinter - winter, and vintrer - winters.

Apocope is visible in for example ꝁ̡ø̂ir, standard Bokmål kjøre. The circumflex over the ø is used to indicate that this word has a "special tone 2" that is connected to the apocope (the loss of the final vowel visible in many other Nordic dialects). The apocope on verbs is visible in for example the aforementioned bjŷᶇᶇ and slêᶁᶁ as well, and as can be seen all of these verbs also possess a circumflex accent written over a vowel, indicating the "special tone 2."

The apocope also applies to the definite singular neuter forms of nouns, and this also causes the vowel in the noun to have "special tone 2", for example eꝁ̡ꝁ̡  hus  or eꝁ̡ꝁ̡  hûs a house, and hûs - the house, Bokmål: et hus - a house, and huset - the house, also for example eꝁ̡ꝁ̡  jørn/jø̂rn - a corner, and jø̂rn - the corner, Bokmål: et hjørne - a corner, and hjørnet - the corner.

Apocope also occurs in the Salten Dialect, like in many other dialects from Nordland, in the definate plural forms of nouns. So for example, Bokmål steinene - the stones, and dalene - the valleys, would be stein`an and da`ł̣an in the Salten Dialect. Notice that these forms also have pitch accent 2, indicated by the letter or symbol `, as opposed to the singular definite forms, stei´'n and dał̣´n which both have pitch accent 1, written with the letter or symbol ´. These singular definite forms are steinen and dalen in Bokmål.

Some of the prepositions show obviously ancient forms, such as ijøn`no - through, Bokmål: gjennom, kreᶇᶇom - around, Bokmål omkring. Other prepositions include te or tell - to, Bokmål: til, uᶇ´ᶇer or uᶇ`ᶇo - under, Bokmål: under.
Like other traditional Norwegian dialects, the Salten Dialect has three genders. The indefinate articles are: efor masculine nouns, ei for feminine nouns, and eꝁ̡ꝁ̡  for neuter nouns. In standard Bokmål these indefinate articles are written en, ei and et, in Nynorsk they are written ein, ei and eit.


The comments and general description of the dialect given above, come from notes I made in 2018 whilst in Bodø, where I was able to read a copy of Saltendialekten: en grammatikk, by Olga Brekke, year 2000. Whilst in Bodø, I also encountered aspects of the Saltendialekt within the Bodø dialect of Norwegian, and for example saw writing where e was written for the person person singular pronoun, and this is the Bodø Dialect and Salten Dialect form, sometimes written é in the Salten Dialect.


I hope that this article was an interesting read!




All examples of word forms in this article are from and as written in: Saltendialekten: en grammatikk, by Olga Brekke, year 2000


Some other works on Northern Norwegian by the author and other links:

1) The Nynorsk Norwegian edition of Wikipedia contains a good amount of information on its page for the Salten Dialect, the page is titled Målføret Saltværing. I have not used this Wikipedia page in writing the article on www.bookofdunbarra.co.uk, and the Nynorsk Wikipedia page uses a somewhat different spelling.

2) From the beginning of page 282 to the end of page 289, in my free ebook published through the Bookofdunbarra website, the ebook being titled Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage, there is an article titled Northern Norwegian, an introduction by Claus Torfinn - published on 21st of June 2019. This article contains information about the Salten Dialect and Nesna Dialects, with a little information about Northern Norwegian generally, ancient etymologies, and other languages in Northern Norway. I originally published this article under the pseudonym Claus Torfinn. Also in this ebook Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage there is an article titled Dialektene på Værøya og Røstlandet, from the beginning of page 290 to the end of page 292 in the aforementioned ebook. I wrote this in Norwegian under another pseudonym, Henrik Olav Kverndal, and the article describes the results of field research I did on the Værøy dialect of Northern Norwegian, Værøy being one of the Lofoten Islands, and words I collect from the nearby Røst dialects. There are other mentions of the Salten Dialect in the aforementioned book, and I have also mentioned the islands of Røst and Værøy in several of my books. The aforementioned ebook was published on the 7th of July 2022.

3) On pages 63 and 64 of another ebook I have published through Bookofdunbarra, titled A guide to some Nordic languages, consisting of some of my work from before December 2022, including material never before published, there is an article titled Basic Nordnorsk (Ballangen/Ofoten Dialect). This piece of work is something I published quite recently, but wrote many years ago, but it gives some good examples of the Northern Norwegian around Ballangen and Lofoten. The aforementioned ebook was published on the 5th of May 2023.

- I have also published many notes and bits of material about the Narvik and other Northern Norwegian dialects, Northern Norwegian history, archaeology, pre-Indo-European language, and material on other Norwegian dialects throughout different books, but above I have only given examples of this from two books.


I hope that this article was interesting to read and that it inspires interest in traditional Norwegian dialects/languages.