29: A Norse language of Estonia and a Norse language of Finland
(Ormsö Norse and Krono Norse)


Written on the 6th of June 2024 by Linden Alexander Pentecost. This page/article has never been published elsewhere, like all articles on this website, and that includes none of the articles available on the website being published in any of the ebooks published on the website. Below the title and intro paragraph, the sections of this page or article are: "The Ormsö Norse language of the island of Ormsö, Estonia", "The place-name Saxby on Ormsö, and vague links to England and English?", "The name Ormsö and lindworms of Nordic Estonia", "Ormsö Norse words, compared to words in Rikssvenska Swedish, Rigsdansk Danish and English", "Notes on Ormsö Norse pronunciation:", "The Ormsö vocabulary in connection to German, or to prehistoric language", "The Krono dialect of Finland Norse References (for the entire article):", "Further resources on Norse languages in Estonia and Finland by the author:". In this article I write about the Ormsö Norse language of the Estonian island of Ormsö or Vormsi, and then about the Norse language of Kronoby in Ostrobothnia, Finland, with many other topics touched upon in this article in relation to language and words. This article or page contains 3089 words.
Note that this article (in front of you) is separate from two, recently written (one already published) articles for Silly Linguistics, titled: Småländska and language in relation to Småland, and Language in Southern Sweden continued: Värmländska, Värmland Finnish, Blå Jungfrun and Öländska. The former article is referred to in the article in front of you, the latter: Language in Southern Sweden continued: Värmländska, Värmland Finnish, Blå Jungfrun and Öländska, has yet to be published, but will hopefully be published in the June edition for Silly Linguistics 2024. The first article, titled  Småländska and language in relation to Småland, was published in Silly Linguistics on the 28th of May 2024 in Edition 72 of Silly Linguistics.


The Ormsö Norse language of the island of Ormsö, Estonia

All words in this section given in bold are those words in the Ormsö Norse language, and are sourced from source (1). Some changes in the spelling have been made, please see the "Notes on Ormsö pronunciation" part of this article for further information about spelling. The Ormsö words are accurate to the best of my knowledge, but some linguistics have told me that Herman Vendell, one of the authors of source (1) including the Ormsö words, made some mistakes in his studies, although I am confident that the examples I have given here are accurate and am not sure to what extent out of the two authors Herman Vendell worked on Ormsö specifically, it may be that the Ormsö words were more the input of A. O. Freudenthal, the other author, but I am unsure to be honest. Anyway, I am confident that the examples I have given are accurate.


The island of Ormsö, Vormsi in Estonian, is an island located off the coast of Estonia, where traditionally a Nordic language was spoken. Ormsö is a relatively small island, with small villages, traditional houses, beautiful forests and quiet beaches. The part of Estonia where Norse was traditionally spoken was generally referred to as Aiboland. The name Vormsi is the Estonian name, whilst Ormsö is the Nordic and/or Swedish name. As I mention again later, the island is called Worms in German, the connection with German is something I also talk about in this article.

The Estonian Norse languages, being the title I prefer to use, are more commonly refered to elsewhere as "Estonian Swedish", although I do not think that this name is ideal. The same is true I think for a lot of the so-called "Swedish" dialects, including most of those called such in Finland and in Sweden.


The place-name Saxby on Ormsö, and vague links to England and English?

On the island of Ormsö and close to the lighthouse is the village of Saxby. The basic root word that may be visible, may be the same as that used to refer to the "Saxons", and forms of this word appear in parts of Germany and Britain for example, but also sporadically in Northern Europe. Forms like Saxby in Lincolnshire in England show an identical place-name to that found on Ormsö. It is unlikely that all of these names refer to Saxons as such however, and we might infer that this rootword Sax- could have had another meaning in the context of Northern Europe. Having said this, some relationship to the Saxons and to England cannot be entirely ruled out. England and the Baltic countries were in contact in ancient times, including through the trade of amber, for example.
You may also notice that to a limited degree, Estonian Norse, including Ormsö Norse, shares certain sounds or sound-changes that are found in English, but not widely in the Nordic-speaking world. Take for example the similarity of Ormsö Norse kíl/kíL - "keel", to English "keel", and for example the initial w- and hw- sounds in Ormsö Norse, compare initial English w- and wh-.


The name Ormsö and lindworms of Nordic Estonia

I published separate work with regards to Lindworms recently in an unrelated article to the one on this page. The article was published by Silly Linguistics on the 28th of May of this year and is titled "Småländska and language in relation to Småland"


Ormsö means "worm island", not as in an earthworm probably, but apparently because of a personal name. Although it's also possible that the island was in some way already associated with the symbolic, magical beings known to the Norse as orm and to the Anglo-Saxons as wyrm. Even though the general idea behind this root word has also come to mean "worm" or "snake", traditionally in Germanic languages this root word did not refer to a specific biological animal as such, but rather to the concept of an otherworldly being that in some senses snakes and earthworms for example were also associated with. At its fundimental, basic level, this root word refers to something that behaves in a twisting, turning motion, often with symbolic associations with chaos, but also creation and even fertility. In German, the island is simply known as Worms. According to source (1), beings known by a similar name were known in Aiboland (the Norse part of Estonia). From the name of the island alone, one can assume that they were known in some way on Ormsö. However, source (1) only gives the word lindoʀm as being known in Gammalsvenskby at the time of dialect research. Gammalsvenskby is located in Ukraine, and is a village to which Estonian Norse people, Aibofolk went.  In source (1), the translation of lindoʀm is given as jätteorm, "giant serpent". Just how similar the Aiboland lindoʀm is to that in Småland I do not know. 

My article published recently in the Sillylinguistics magazine titled Småländska and language in relation to Småland (Published in Issue 74 of Silly Linguistics, published on the 28th of May 2024), includes a completely different scope of information about the lindworm in general and its name, and my name.


Ormsö Norse words, compared to words in Rikssvenska Swedish, Rigsdansk Danish and English


Ormsö Norse Rikssvenska Swedish Rigsdansk Danish English
hwim? vem? hvem? who?
wintur vinter vinter winter
åw av af of, off
oʀm orm orm worm, serpent (see previous section)
swaip svepa feje to sweep
swäLg svälja suge, svælge to swallow
straim ström strøm "stream" but Nordic cognates refer more to the "stream" as a concept of flowing movement, rather than as a beck or small river
haim hem hjem home
kíl, kíL köl /ɕøːl/ køl /kʰøˀl/ keel (of a boat)
tiåė tjog "score" a score
lüpp loppa loppe flea
äggėguLa äggula æggeblomme egg yolk
strånd strand strand beach, strand, shore
swämm sömn søvn sleep (noun)
waʀm värme varme warmth
waʀman varm varm warm
æða äta spise to eat
kiolk kälke kælk, kælke a small sled
moʀgasdá morgondag, i morgon i morgen tomorrow, compare Old English "morgendæg"
täferė därför derfor therefore
græL gräla skænde, skælde to argue
ä(l?)Sk älska ælske to love
æLian ärlig ærlig honest
wåg våg våg wave or bay
üdd udde odde a word for "peninsula" or "headland"
üðė, ütė uti (uncommon today) ud + i, but these words are not combined in Danish in
græs gräs græs grass
miss mössa hue a knitted cap
stråL stråla stråle to shine

Notes on Ormsö Norse pronunciation:

The spelling used here is more or less the same as that used in source (1). There are a few differences, in that I have written the "Thick L" sound as L here, and that I have written the voiced uvular trill as ʀ. In terms of the pronunciation in general: w is as in the English w. It is not so common on Ormsö in initial position and seems to occur more commonly as a part of a consonant cluster, e.g. sw-, often equivalent to Rikssvenska Swedish sv-, but can be seen in initial position in some of the examples. ð is the voiced dental fricative, as in English 'this'. It occurs as a lenition of [t] in Estonian Norse dialects, its exact patterns being hard to predict.
The diphthong ai as in haim and straim is a local pronunciation on the island of Ormsö, other parts of the Estonian Norse-speaking world often possess different equivalent sounds, for example the form häim is perhaps more common in Estonian Norse to mean "home".
The word æ(l?)Sk is written such, because the form is given as æSk in source (1), but perhaps the [l] was in fact present.
Note that the form waʀman is the masculine adjective meaning "warm", as Estonian Norse has this -n ending to distinguish masculine adjectives. For example, winturen är waʀman - "the winter is warm". The form æLian is also a masculine adjective.The semivowel j occurs in Rikssvenska Swedish in tj- for example, e.g. tjugo - "twenty", pronounced [ɕʉːɡʊ], where the tj is pronounced [ɕ] like the soft initial k in Rikssvenska Swedish. Other Nordic languages will sometimes pronounce the semivowel and the previous consonant in Estonian Norse however this [j] is generally speaking not present, hence tiåė is pronounced with an initial [t] followed by [i], unlike the Swedish form tjog where the [j] is present, and falls together with the [t] to become [ɕ]. Although the "soft k" in Swedish is not written as though palatalised, it is written so largely in Norwegian, e.g. Norwegian kjøre - to drive, Rikssvenska Swedish: köra. This soft "k" sound, either as [kj], [tj] or [ɕ] for example, is not generally found in Estonian Swedish. For example Rikssvenska Swedish kälke - a small sledge, and köl - "keel" are both pronounced with an initial "soft k" as [ɕ]. But on Ormsö for example the forms of these words are kiolk and kíl/kíL, which have no palatalisation. Instead in some cases the palatalisation seems expressed in the form of the vowel [i].


The Ormsö vocabulary in connection to German, or to prehistoric language

Some of the words found in Swedish and Ormsö Norse, but not in Danish, are "Low-German" borrowings, for example græL - to argue, Swedish gräla, from Low German grellen - "to shout at". Low German, and in the case of Ormsö, the German language itself, can be thought of as an extension of earlier cultural links. Ormsö has a German name, partially because Estonia was historically a part of the historic world known to the German peoples, and thus even though German has never been native in Estonia, the German language is in a sense a part of the wider links between Estonia and Germanic-speaking lands. A large number of words in the Nordic languages (largely not in Icelandic however), are said to come from German, or from a variety of Low German. In the case of words such as græL being related to Low German grellen, it is entirely possible in my opinion that we are not looking at a word root of Low-German origin, but rather at a word that is far more ancient, and connected to those ancient trade links, and appears in both Low German and in certain Nordic languages as a result of that, but without the word itself originally coming from Low German. This may also imply that a large number of so-called "Low-German" words in Norwegian as well, might be much more ancient in origin, despite that these same root words also passed into Low-German, giving the impression that they are from Low German.


The Krono dialect of Finland Norse

All words in this section are sourced from source (2)

Finland Norse dialects are spoken historically in several parts of coastal Finland, and are distinct from the standard Swedish language that is used for example on signs in Finland, this standardised language being essentially a Finland version of Rikssvenska Swedish, and totally distinct from the traditional Norse languages within Finland, which are I think erronously referred to as Finland Swedish. Some of the features of the Krono language are unique to it, whilst others can be found widely throughout the Nordic languages of Finland. There are many forms of traditional Norse language in Finland, belonging to several distinct individual languages or dialect groups. The Krono language belongs to what I would term to be in English a "North Ostrobothnian Nordic language", but in Swedish it would be called a Norra Österbotten dialekt.

The Krono dialect, or language, is a form of speech in which some interesting features can be seen, many of which contrast quite starkly to the features of Norse languages in Sweden, and in Estonia, and especially from Standard Rikssvenska Swedish. We find for example this medial mb consonant cluster, that was present in Old written Swedish, but, is not present in Swedish today. For example in the word gambel - "old", Swedish: gammal.

Like in the Southern Sandsjö language, which I talked about recently in the Småländska and language in Småland SillyLinguistics article, the Krono dialect possesses an initial [ts] sound, that is equivalent to the [kʰ] in Rigsdansk Danish, the [k] in Estonian Norse, the [ɕ] in Rikssvenska Swedish. For example, Icelandic: kaupa - "to buy", equivalent to Danish købe - "to buy", Swedish: köpa, Norwegian: kjøpe, kjøpa, tjøp etc, and Krono language: tsöp.

Rikssvenska Swedish initial soft g tends to be represented as dj-, ds- or dz- in Krono Norse. For example Rikssvenska Swedish genom - "through" is dsimon or dzimon among other forms. Note that the [m] and [n] are in different positions in the Rikssvenska Swedish and Krono language forms. Also for example, Rikssvenska Swedish göra - "to do", is djära or dsära in the Krono language, whilst Rikssvenska ge - "give" is djee or dsee.

The initial consonant clusters in Swedish: sk- (soft) and skj have a number of variants in the Krono language. The soft initial sk- of Rikssvenska Swedish is often stj-, sts- or even stz- in the Krono language, for example Rikssvenska Swedish: skärgård - "archipelago" is stsär in the Krono language, whilst Rikssvenska skicka - "send" is stjikk or stsikk in the Krono language, whilst Rikssvenska Swedish skälla - "bell" is stzäld in the Krono language.

Apocope is quite common, as is visible in some of the examples above. There are also many diphthongs when looking at the Krono language compared to Rikssvenska Swedish, for example Rikssvenska Swedish hem - "home", Krono language: heim, Rikssvenska Swedish sten - "stone", Krono language: stein. (This is pronounced with an [ei] diphthong, not like the German form Stein which contains an [ai] diphthong).
Pronouns are different, jaag is "I", Rikssvenska Swedish: jag, and tu is "thou", Rikssvenska Swedish: du. Pronouns beginnng with t- are common in the Norse languages of Finland and Estonia. In the Krono dialect there is also te or ti meaning "they", Rikssvenska Swedish: de, dom.
As in some other dialects of Finland Norse, special forms of pronouns are used where Rikssvenska Swedish uses här and där "here" and "there" as a way of essentially saying "this" or "that". This is more common in Swedish than in Norwegian, for example Rikssvenska Swedish de här - "these", but literally"they here". In the Krono language for example we have heschee which means "these", Rikssvenska Swedish: de här, hondee or ondee which means "she there, she over there", vaguely equivalent to Rikssvenska Swedish: hon där, and handee or adee which means "he over there", Rikssvenska Swedish: han där. There is also for example hedenand which means "this", presumably neutral, Rikssvenska Swedish: det här.
The Krono language has a very interesting vocabulary generally. Take for example the word sysa for a "dog", Rikssvenska Swedish: hund. The word sysa is no doubt a cognate to Finnish susi, but susi means "wolf" rather than "dog" in Finnish.

References (for the entire article):

(1) - all words in Ormsö Norse are from source (1); Ordbok öfver de Estländsk-Svenska Dialekterna, utarbetad av A. O. Freudenthal och H. A. Vendell, 1886 Och Runömålet, ljud- ock formlära samt ordbok av Herman Vendell, 1882-87. The Ormsö Norse words are taken from the general dictionary of Estonian Norse (referred to as Estländsk-Svenska (Estonian Swedish) in source 1. The words are given in a general way, and I picked out specific words from source 1 that are specifically from the island of Ormsö, in order to look specifically at Ormsö Norse.

(2) - all words in the Krono language are from sourced from source 2, which is the PDF dictionary titled Ordboken Krombisaurus, available on the website titled www.kronomagasinet.com, current web address: https://kronomagasinet.wordpress.com

Further resources on Norse languages in Estonia and Finland by the author:

1) .Four Nordic languages around the Baltic Sea, available as an article on Omniglot, the website by Simon Ager. The web address is: https://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/nordiclanguages.htm

2) .The chapter or section Finland Swedish dialect wordlist (Malax and Närpes dialects), written under a pseudonym by the author, available in the ebook Below is the new book: Languages and dialects of Northwestern Europe, and their heritage - published by Linden Alexander Pentecost, published on this website (www.bookofdunbarra.co.uk) on the 7th of July 2022. 
3) .The chapter or section Rûn lesson one The Nordic language of Ruhnu, an Estonian Island available in the ebook Indigenous languages and archaeology – originally intended as the 2nd or 3rd to last book published by bookofdunbarra, but instead the first part in a new series of books published via bookofdunbarra, which was published on the 21st of December 2023 on this website (www.bookofdunbarra.co.uk)