23: Further Comments on the Nesna Dialect of Norwegian, and a little on the Lurøy dialect
Written by and published by Linden Alexander Pentecost in September 2023 on this website, www.bookofdunbarra.co.uk This article includes: "Introduction and introduction to the research:", "Pronunciation and spelling notes:", "Other notes on the dialect's phonology and features:", "Possible words of pre-Germanic and non-Sámi origin in the Nesna Dialect, with some potential etymological links:", "Example sentences:", "Some brief notes on the Lurøy dialect(s):" and "References:". This article contains 2304 words.
Introduction and introduction to the research:
All of the unique vocabuary from the Nesna Dialect shown in this article, including some of that shown in the five sample sentences, is sourced from the book Ord fra gamle Nesna by Torstein Sørensen. This is except for a couple of words I have innovated from my knowledge of the dialect, or which I have seen elsewhere in examples of the dialect, but which are not in the book by Torstein Sørensen, these words are: Nesnadialektn, fåLk, hannj, hestæ, steinæ, feskæ, lannj, sannj, allje, fesk, lætt, førrstå. The few words given of the Lurøy dialect are all from what I have found out through more general knowledge when learning about the Lurøy dialect.
The Nesna dialect of Norwegian, or rather the Nesna Dialect Group, is a group of closely related Northern Norwegian dialects, spoken in the region of Nesna in Nordland, including the islands of Tomma, Handnesøya, and Hugla, several smaller islands, and part of the mainland, particularly that peninsula known as part of Nesna, next to the Ranfjord. Nesna is a part of the ancient cultural and linguistic region of Hålogaland, whence comes the modern name Helgeland, which roughly corresponds to Hålogaland. The nearby dialect of Lurøy is pretty similar to that of Nesna, and the dialects of Lurøy and Nesna can in a sense be seen as a dialect group.
Note: I previously discussed some brief details on the Nesna Dialect and two words from the Nesna Dialect in my article Northern Norwegian, an introduction by Claus Torfinn - published on 21st of June 2019, which I wrote under the pseudonym, Claus Torfinn. This is published in my ebook Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage which is available as an ebook download on this website (probably not if you are viewing an archived form of this website at the British Library, in which case you will probably have to find the ebook separately, as even though the ebooks are published on or via this website, they are not technically a part of the website's online content, as they are files that open in a separate window).
- In my previous discussion on the Nesna dialect, I also talk about potential etymologies for the Nesna dialect words fLakk - travel around, and bræms - a kind of insect. In this new article (the one you are currently reading) I elaborate in different detail about the potential etymology of fLakk, although please see the original article in the ebook Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage for more information, and for some other information on the Nesna Dialect. Note that the article in question also discusses languages in Northern Norway in a more general way, including a little about the Salten dialect, which is separate from the article specifically about the Salten Dialect found only on this website and not in any of the ebooks, including in those published on this website.
Note: before publishing this article, I have not previously discussed the Lurøy dialect as a specific entity, and in a general way, but I have previously published a wordlist of Onøya Dialect words in the section A Norwegian Dialect comparison in my ebook Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage. This Norwegian Dialect comparison gives forms from several dialects and not just that of Onøya.
Pronunciation and spelling notes:
Below are given some notes on the spelling and pronunciation of the Nesna Dialect; largely based upon the spelling used in the book Ord fra gamle Nesna by Torstein Sørensen.
.The "thick l" sound is written as L, e.g. faueL - bird, Bokmål: fugl, and fåLk - people, Bokmål: folk.
.If you have seen my article on this website on the Salten Dialect, then it may be useful to know that many of the consonants in the Salten dialect, at least in a roundabout sense, are close to those of the Nesna dialect, although they may not be the exact same. In the Nesna dialect for example, the 'ch'-like sounds of Northern Norwegian is written as tj or ttj, whereas in the Salten dialect spelling I have used, they are written ꝁ̡ and ꝁ̡ꝁ̡. More 'purer' palatal consonants are written with this hook below the consonant in the Salten dialect spelling I use, but in the Nesna dialect these are written followed by a -j, as in hannj - hand, lannj - land, sannj - sand, allje - all, et cetera.
Other notes on the dialect's phonology and features:
Below are some further points and more information on the dialect.
.Palatalisation is common, for example kvittj - white, Bokmål: hvitt, ittje or iddje - not, Bokmål: ikke, Nynorsk: ikkje, ditje - a ditch, Bokmål: dike, settjen - the sack, Bokmål and Nynorsk: sekken, hannj - hand, Bokmål: hand, hånd, ettje - after, Bokmål: etter, å finnj - to find, Bokmål: å finne, dennj - it (gendered nouns), Bokmål and Nynorsk: den, dinnj - thy, Bokmål: din.
.Some words show simply a more commonly dialectal form in many parts of Norway, before the modern forms of Norwegian language evolved. An example is skak - shake, a more standard written form without apocope is skake, but often the word skjelve is used in modern Norwegian.
.The masculine plural of some masculine nouns is -æ, e.g. hestæ - horses, steinæ - stones, feskæ - fishes, Bokmål: hester, steiner, fisker.
.Sometimes the å in most Norwegian dialects is instead a in the Nesna dialects, for example ga - go, Bokmål: gå.
.Other unusual vowel differences exist, for example Nesna Dialect å slæpp - to release or let go, Bokmål: å slippe.
.The first person singular pronoun is e, sometimes eg and with the form ek being found in Løkta. The form ek is pretty unusual, it is found in some other dialects of Norwegian on the west coast, but is nevertheless rare. It is identical to the Old West Norse ek, whereas most of Western and Northern Norway has the forms e, eg, æ, æg as being arguably the most common. Much of Nordland has the forms eg or e, but Northern Nordland commonly has æ, with æg found in some places such as Ballangen.
Possible words of pre-Germanic and non-Sámi origin in the Nesna Dialect, with some potential etymological links:
The Nesna dialect contains many unusual words of unclear etymology. Of the nine Nesna Dialect words given below, and the potential etymologies discussed, I have only been able to get so far and find potential links for four of the nine words discussed, and I have been unable to think of or find any potential links for five of the nine words, the five words are nevertheless included to highlight the unusualness and potential pre-Germanic and non-Sámi origins of these words. Note that the Nesna word bræms is not discussed here but is discussed in Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage alongside the word fLakk.
1. fLakk - travel around, perhaps connected to Proto-Afro-Asiatic: *hVlak- (?) - go, drive (2), and perhaps to various Uralic root words, including that found in Finnish lähteä - leave - see my other notes on this etymology in my ebook Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage for further information.
2. fæssjæ - a young woman, perhaps connected to Proto-Afro-Asiatic: *ʔiwas- woman (2)
3. fLeis - face, perhaps connected to Proto-North Caucasian: *jɦălǯē(-nV) - face (3), and Proto-Lak lažin (3). This form shows an obvious similarity to Norwegian fjes - face, too. Perhaps the original consonant was a kind of [lh], equivalent to the f in Norwegian fjes, and to the l and fl in the more closely related Proto-North-Caucasian and Nesna dialect forms.
4. fLåg - a steep mountainside, perhaps distantly cognate to English 'flag' as in a 'flag of turf' or a 'flagstone', referring approximately to a bouyant, flat, heavy mass of earth or stone; the meaning of Icelandic flag is similar and generally refers to turf. Whilst the English and Icelandic words have an implied meaning that the mass is flat, the word fLåg seems more to imply that this 'flatness' is more the 'smooth', i.e. level steep slope. This implies that not all words with the *fl- consonant cluster in Germanic have a meaning connected to 'flat', which is something I have discussed previously. I think it more likely that the *fl- consonant cluster reflects something more related to mass touch and sensation, hence words like "feel", "fleece" and "flirt" in English. English also has words like "flat", "flab", "flap". The -ag and -ab endings both seem to imply something related to "mass", and in this sense, the consonant clusters *fl- and *sl- can be seen to be related, hence that "flag" and "slab" have rather similar meanings, with very defined metaphorical and sound-symbolism related differences. A Celtic or pre-Celtic root *leg- implies something like a stone or mountain, and, in regards to the similarity between the consonant clusters *sl- and *fl-, and the similarity between the suffixes -ag and -ab, we might see how pre-Celtic *leg-, Irish sliabh - mountain, English 'slab' and Nesna dialect fLåg may share some relatedness in their meanings.
5. skag - a broad, wide and flat headland, I have no suggestions on this word's etymology.
6. fLein - bald, I have no suggestions for this word's etymological connections.
7. fisi - afraid, I have no suggestions for this word's etymology.
8. fLi - to clean and dry fish, also to clear, tidy or wash, I have no suggestions on the potential etymology of this word.
9. ferrel - a strong wind, I have no suggestions on this word's etymology.
Below are five sample sentences I created, given in the Nesna Dialect, Bokmål Norwegian, and in English, to help demonstrate how the Nesna dialect differs from Bokmål in sentences rather than individual words. Unfortunately my command of Nynorsk is not good enough, at least these days, to write all of these sentences according to the most common practices of Nynork spelling, but the first sentence for example would be eg er ikkje i Noreg in Nynorsk.
1. eg e ittje i Nårri - Nesna dialect
jeg er ikke i Norge - Bokmål Norwegian
I am not in Norway - English
2. hannj fær tell Nesna - Nesna dialect
han reiser (farer) til Nesna - Bokmål Norwegian
he travels to Nesna - English
3. hannj sedd ipunnje tree' - Nesna dialect
han sitter under treet - Bokmål Norwegian
he sits under the tree - English
4. eg ska ittje bi en fesk - Nesna dialect
jeg skal ikke bli en fisk - Bokmål Norwegian
I shall not become a fish - English
5. dæ e ittje så lætt å førrstå Nesnadialektn - Nesna dialect
det er ikke så lett å forstå Nesnadialekten - Bokmål Norwegian
it is not so easy to understand the Nesna dialect - English
Some brief notes on the Lurøy dialect(s):
Lurøy is a municipality close to Nesna, which includes part of the mainland and several islands such as Lurøya, Stigen, Onøya, Aldra, Lovund and the small Solvær Islands. No doubt the Lurøy dialect, or dialects, are not exactly the same throughout these islands, and so the paragraph below this is only a general discussion on the general Lurøy dialect. As I have already mentioned further up the page (the one you are currently reading), I have previously published a wordlist of the Onøya dialect, Onøya being a part of the Lurøy municipality, but this is again specific to the Onøya island and not necessarily applicable to Lurøy dialects in general, however, the general features of Lurøy Norwegian given below do match that of the Onøya wordlist, although the informant for that wordlist used a slightly different spelling, and represented pre-palatalisation, whereas many Norwegian writers and dialectologists tend to only write palatalisation after the consonant and many do not believe that pre-palatalisation even exists, although I think to some extent it does, which would make hainn and hainnj different from hannj to some degree. These words mean "he", standard Bokmål Norwegian: han.
I have been unable to find any resources on the specific words and more unique vocabulary used in Lurøy Norwegian, or to what extent the fascinating Nesna dialect vocabulary is also found in Lurøy. From what I have been able to read and understand though, in its basic phonology the Lurøy dialects are very close to those of Nesna, as in Nesna the first person singular pronoun is eg in the Lurøy dialect, and the neutral word for "it", in Bokmål: det, is dæ in the Lurøy dialect, and similarly the word for "with", med in Bokmål has this same æ vowel in the Lurøy dialect, and thus "with" is mæ in the Lurøy dialect. There is also frequent palatalisation, as in Lurøy dialect hannj - he, identical to the form in the Nesna dialects. The singular personal object pronouns are me, de and se, Bokmål: meg, deg and seg, English "me" "thee" and "her, him".
(1) The unique vocabulary and most of the Nesna dialect words are sourced from Ord fra gamle Nesna by Torstein Sørensen, published in 2004 by Orkana/Nordland fylkesbibliotek.
(2) - Proto-Afro-Asiatic vocabulary by Alexander Militarev, and Olga Stolbova, this vocabulary can be found at starlingdb.org, database by S. Starostin
(3) Proto-North-Caucasian vocabulary was compiled by Sergei Starostin and is available at starlingdb.org