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  • Gutnic
  • gutniska
  • gutamål
Native toSweden
RegionGotland, Fårö
Native speakers
~2,000-5,000 (1998)[1][2]
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Gutnish (US: /ˈɡtnɪʃ/ GOOT-nish),[3] or rarely Gutnic[3] (gutniska or gutamål), refers to the original language spoken on parts of the islands of Gotland and Fårö.[4] The different dialects of Gutnish, while stemming from the Old Gutnish (Swedish: Forngutniska) variety of Old Norse, are sometimes considered part of modern Swedish. Gutnish exists in two variants, Mainland Gutnish (Swedish: Laumål), mostly spoken in the southern portion of Gotland, and Faroymal (Swedish: Fårömål), spoken on parts of the island of Fårö. UNESCO defines Gutnish as a "definitely endangered language" as of 2010.[2]

Some features of Gutnish include the preservation of Old Norse diphthongs like ai in for instance stain (Swedish sten, English stone) and oy in for example doy (Swedish , English die). There is also a triphthong that exists in no other Norse languages: iau as in skiaute/skiauta (Swedish skjuta, English shoot).

Many Gotlanders do not understand Gutnish, and speak Gotlandic (Swedish: gotländska), a Gutnish-influenced Swedish dialect.[5]

There are major efforts to revive the traditional version of Modern Gutnish, and Gutamålsgillet (the Gutnish Language Guild) is organizing classes and meetings for speakers of traditional Gutnish. According to the guild's webpage, there are now 1,500 people using Gutnish on Facebook.[6]


Gutnish has many words of its own that make it different from Swedish. The following is a small selection of Gutnish's everyday vocabulary:[7]

Gutnish Swedish German English
päiku flickan das Mädchen the girl / maiden
sårken pojken der Junge / Knabe the boy
russe hästen das Ross the horse
rabbis kanin Kaninchen rabbit
träsket sjön der See the lake / mere
sjoen havet das Meer the sea


Gutnish is now under pressured influence of the Swedish standard language, both through speaker contact and through media and (perhaps most importantly) written language. As a result, Gutnish has become much closer to the Swedish standard language. Due to the island's Danish and Hanseatic period there were also influences from Danish and German.[8] There are also many Gotlanders who do not learn the language, but speak a regionally colored variant of the standard Swedish (Gotlandic). This is characterized mainly by its intonation, but also by diphthongs and triphthongs, some lexical peculiarities as well as the infinitive ending -ä.

The Gutamålsgillet association, which has been working for the preservation and revitalization of Gutnish since 1945, estimates that Gutnish is spoken today by 2,000 to 5,000 people.[1] How many are still passive, is not specified. However, an interest in Gutnish seems to be present: From 1989 to 2011, the radio show Gutamål ran in Radio Gotland,[9] which regularly reached about 15,000 to 20,000 listeners,[10] and in 2008 Gotland University offered their first course in Gutnish. Gutamålsgillet collects writings of authors and poets who write their texts in Gutnish, and maintains a Swedish-Gutnish dictionary and an ever-growing list of Gotlandic neologisms.


Nätt'l för manfolk u kungvall för kune.
Neie slags örtar för ymsedere.
Svalk di bei saudi, styrk di me dune
um däu jär djaupt i naudi nere!
Vävald pa raini, rindlaug i hagen
täusen sma kluckar gynnar ljaude.
Die aimar fran marki u rydmen av dagen
slucknar langum för livnes u daude.

— Gustaf Larsson, Um kvälden, [11]

Staingylpen gärdä bryllaup,
langhalu bigravdä läik,
tra torkä di däu sigderäivarä
va fyrä komst däu intä däit?

— Nach P.A. Säve, Staingylpen, [12]


  1. ^ a b "Vanliga frågor (faq)". 28 August 2012. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b Moseley, Christopher, ed. (2010). Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. Memory of Peoples (3rd ed.). Paris: UNESCO Publishing. ISBN 978-92-3-104096-2. Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  3. ^ a b "Gutnish". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  4. ^ Swedish at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  5. ^ Sveriges Utbildningsradio (UR): Difference between Gutamål and gotländska
  6. ^ "Description of Gutnish on Gotland Tourism Website".
  7. ^ "Gutamålsgillets Årdliste / Ordlista". 14 October 2012.
  8. ^ Bengt Pamp: Svenska dialekter. Natur och Kultur, Stockholm 1978, ISBN 91-27-00344-2, p. 76
  9. ^ Radio, Sveriges. "Alla avsnitt - Gutamål".
  10. ^ "Historia". 9 October 2012.
  11. ^ Herbert Gustavson: Gutamålet – inledning till studium. 3. überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Barry Press Förlag, Visby 1977, S. 62.
  12. ^ Herbert Gustavson: Gutamålet – inledning till studium. 3. überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Barry Press Förlag, Visby 1977, S. 73.

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