Spynorsk mordliste

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Spynorsk mordliste is a derogatory term in Norwegian culture, meant to disparage the Nynorsk written standard of the Norwegian language. It's a pun on Nynorsk ordliste (lit. "New Norwegian Word List"), the Norwegian-language title of the most common Nynorsk dictionary, and can be roughly translated as "The Barf-Norwegian List of Murders". The phrase's fame in Norwegian culture stems from students writing on the cover of the dictionaries they use in school, changing some of the letters so that it says "Spynorsk mordliste".


Nynorsk ordliste is a dictionary on the Nynorsk written standard of Norwegian, first published in 1938 with Einar Breidsvoll and Knut Liestøl as editors. In 1959 Liestøl left while Alf Hellevik became co-editor. From 1962 Hellevik was the sole editor.[1] In Norwegian schools, it has long been compulsory to learn and write both Nynorsk and Bokmål.[2] It soon became widespread among Bokmål users to mock Nynorsk.[3] Among others, people would change the cover title of Nynorsk ordliste with a pen to say Spynorsk mordliste.[4] This term can be translated to "New Norwegian Word List", cf. "Spew Norwegian Murder List".


Anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen, in his 1993 book Typisk norsk (Typical Norwegian), suggested "Nynorsk mordliste" [sic] as being among the typical Norwegian cultural traits—meaning that the term has a certain connotation for all or most Norwegians.[5]

The term has also been used in politics. In the run-up for the 2005 parliamentary election, the Conservative politician Harald Victor Hove from Hordaland gained some attention for burning Nynorsk ordliste as a part of his campaign. He referred to the book as "'Spynorsk mordliste', as we used to call it".[6] During debates in the city council of Oslo—a Bokmål stronghold—the term has also been used. Progress Party politician Anette Elseth spoke to limit the compulsory school writing to one of the written standards only, and added that she and others used to change the name to "Spynorsk mordliste".[7] In another debate, Conservative politician Øystein Sundelin claimed—rhetorically—that "regrettably, more than half" of the school attenders in Oslo have written "Spynorsk mordliste" on their dictionary.[8]


  1. ^ Bull, Tove. "Alf Hellevik". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "Nynorsken i årstal" (in Norwegian). Ivar Aasen Centre. Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  3. ^ See for instance Eriksen, Thomas H. (6 February 2004). "De tre sidemålene". Morgenbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  4. ^ Tryti, Tove (2009). Norsk slangordbok (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. p. 347. ISBN 978-82-573-1980-9. 
  5. ^ Eriksen, Thomas Hylland (1993). Typisk norsk. Essays om kulturen i Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Huitfeldt. pp. 234–236. ISBN 82-7003-121-6. 
  6. ^ Børhaug, Espen (13 August 2005). "Harald brenner «spynorsken»". Bergensavisen (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sak nr. 540. Sidemål i videregående opplæring". Forhandlinger i Oslo bystyres møte onsdag 27. september 2000 (in Norwegian). Oslo City Council. 27 September 2000. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  8. ^ "Sak nr. 73. Utvidet forsøk med valgfritt skriftlig sidemål i videregående skole". Forhandlinger i Oslo bystyres møte onsdag 27. februar 2008 (in Norwegian). Oslo City Council. 27 September 2000. Retrieved 2 July 2009.