Talk:Old Gutnish

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5000 speakers[edit]

5.000 speakers? Where can I find these and converse with them?

I would like this also, suspecting the language has been extinct for more than a century. Maybe someone should call Ethnologue and ask them where to find those 5,000 speakers. --Fred-Chess 17:40, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I can add a rumor: the rumor says that there's c:a 2 farmes on Fårö where the inhabitants still speak Gutnic. That I saw once on the web, something about a Swedish TV program – so a rumor it must remain for a time, sorry. The 5000 speakers, if the figure is right, probably speaks a simplified Gotlandian dialectal variant of Swedish. Rursus 14:32, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

"Modern Gutnish"[edit]

Please stop trying to keep an article at Gutnish language, complete with a quite misleading infobox. Even SIL has withdrawn its support of this as a separate language in the 15th edition of the Ethnologue. It is considered a dialect of Swedish according to NE, just like Scanian. An article title like "Gutnish language" seems to be either POV or original research. Since the article contains no references of any kind, please provide sources to support the statement or elaborate on the matter here before reverting again.

Peter Isotalo 21:43, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, I created an article at Gutnish language (again), before I realized that there was a discussion page and an article had been there before. Still, I am not altogether convinced that Gutnish is simply a Swedish dialect. I am quite good at Swedish and have been to Gotland myself, and what I gathered there is:
  • In Gotland everyone knows standard Swedish, as it is required by law, but some still speak Gutnish. It is distinct from the Gotlandic dialect of Swedish.
  • I listened to the radio in Gutnish, and it was very different from any Swedish I've ever heard; It also seemed to be much closer to Icelandic than Swedish is (I'm Icelandic, so I should know), meaning that they must have preserved more of Old Norse than mainland Swedes.
I must ask you: Have you actually studied (or even heard) Gutnish? -- Krun 16:24, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
I've never even been in Sweden but I once had a someone from Gotland in my class. Even though he didn't speak any Gutnish he said that it is really a distinct language from Swedish. According to him, there are still some people in the countryside who speak it but most others speak a Swedish dialect influenced by Gutnish. --Chlämens 23:34, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Guys, please read my post. I've provided Swedish language referencess that consider it merely a dialect of Swedish, SIL has actually withdrawn its eariler support of it as a separate language and I can find no references that support your claims. Either provide sources to support the concept of a modern, living Gutnish language that isn't considered a dialect of Swedish or leave it as a redirect. Hearsay from non-speakers, extrapolations and guessing isn't verifiable.
And I have to correct a few claims:
  • Standard Swedish is not required by law. Technically, it doesn't even have legal official status. It's only de-facto official and the use of dialects is generally encouraged by local government. Standard Swedish because it's a common national standard, not because people are being forced to learn it.
  • What is refered to as "Gotlandic" and "Gutnish" are one and the same. In Swedish the equivalent terms are gotländska and gutniska and both refer to the dialect of Swedish that is technically a descendant of Old Gutnish. There is no such thing as a dialect of Gotland that is historically separate from Old Gutnish. This is really no different from Scanian, which historically is a form of Eastern Danish, but is today considered a form of Southern Swedish.
  • Any similarity between Gutnish/Gotlandic and Icelandic are most likely coincidences.

Well, these coinsidences are striking. My mother is a native "gotlänning" (born and raised in Gotland), and I have spent a lot of time there, having heard both "Gotländska" that is a Swedish dialect, clearly understandable to most Swedes, and "Gutamål", which is definitely NOT Swedish. I have a pretty good understanding of it, but it is as far from Swedish as is Danish. As for if it is still spoken. Yes, but less and less. If you're interested to hear the real stuff, you should go to När, on the Southeastern coast.CatharinaB (talk) 19:21, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

No, it isn't – Gotlandic dialect retains some archaic diphtongs that are also retained in Icelandic, but Icelandic has changed it's pronunciation of long vowels. Rursus 14:35, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

First off, it's East Scandinavian, unlike Icelandic, which is West Scandinavian. Furthermore, the diphthongs of Gutnish developed from long vowels similar to those found in Danish and Swedish and are not remnants of the Old Norse diphthongs like those in Icelandic, Faroese and certain dialects of Norwegian. With the exception of some dialects spoken on Fårö, the verb conjugations have collapsed in a fashion similar to the other Mainland Scandinavian languages and the grammar is not as complicated as that of Icelandic.

Finally, I'll link you to SweDia, a dialect project that has collected numerous samples of Swedish dialects from 100 different locations in Sweden and Finland. Please note that älvdalsmål is included among these, even if it's considered a separate language by most Swedish linguists today. Here's the link to the page on dialects spoken in Gotland. Just click the towns and the various links to get to the sound samples. Now please keep in mind that even though I speak Central Swedish and have been raised in Stockholm with only a minimum of socializing with Gotlanders, I have no problem at all understanding all but a select few, obscure local colloquialisms in any of the recordings. Otherwise it's just as similar to Stockholm Swedish as regional variants of American English.
Peter Isotalo 21:03, 11 October 2005 (UTC)


"Furthermore, the diphthongs of Gutnish developed from long vowels similar to those found in Danish and Swedish and are not remnants of the Old Norse diphthongs like those in Icelandic, Faroese and certain dialects of Norwegian." (Peter Isotalo)

This is simply wrong, Peter. It is correct though that all long vowels - except Old Gutnish long a - have become diphtongs, but it is not correct that the Old Gutnish diphtongs have vanished or got "spoiled". In fact, Gutnish is the scandinavian dialect which has the best preserved old diphtongs. Modern Gutnish, like Old Gutnish, has the diphtongs ai, au and oy. Icelandic has in fact a collapsed system where ei (Modern Gutnish ai) and ey (Modern Gutnish oy) are pronunced the same, though kept apart in the orthography. Note also that Icealandic and Faroese have secondary diphtongs as well, so the diphtong system of Modern Gutnish is quite similar to that of those languages. (Both preserved and newly developed diphtongs). I should add that a few years ago, the culture group Propago created an orthography for Gutnish, where e.g. secondary diphtongs were written with acute diacritics, just like in Icelandic ahnd Faroese. Thus, e.g., one would write hús 'house' rather than *häus etc. Here is a sample of the Propago written normal http://www.nynorsk.no/minoritet/gutamaal.html (The author Anna-Carin Gahm is one of the members of Propago and I have had some contact with her a couple of years ago.)
Author: Jens Persson, jepe2503 at hotmail dot com . (14 Dec 2005)


"Finally, I'll link you to SweDia, a dialect project that has collected numerous samples of Swedish dialects from 100 different locations in Sweden and Finland. Please note that älvdalsmål is included among these, even if it's considered a separate language by most Swedish linguists today. Here's the link to the page on dialects spoken in Gotland. Just click the towns and the various links to get to the sound samples. Now please keep in mind that even though I speak Central Swedish and have been raised in Stockholm with only a minimum of socializing with Gotlanders, I have no problem at all understanding all but a select few, obscure local colloquialisms in any of the recordings. Otherwise it's just as similar to Stockholm Swedish as regional variants of American English." (Peter Isotalo)

The SweDia project is somewhat flawed when it comes to actually present what the local dialects sound like. I have been in contact with some of them and the impression I get is that they have conformed the way they speak to the interviewer speaking Standard Swedish. It is a well-known phenomenon that one only speaks dialect when one has someone to interact with who also speaks the dialect. The SweDia project has indeed been critized quite alot by people who actually speak genuine dialects. It is also flawed by the fact that the big cities aren't represented. My personal feeling is that the SweDia project isn't very scientific. Why not take a look at some comments on SweDia in the Guestbook: http://swedia.ling.umu.se/guestbook/index.html . Here's a better representation of the genuine dialects of Sweden: http://www.svd.se/dynamiskt/Kultur/did_4351328.asp . (It is though obvious that there is a conforming to the interviewer's speech here as well. This seems to be especially true for the sample from Lau, Gotland, where one even hears the interviewed quoting someone who obviously spoke a purer form of Gutnish.)
Keeping what is aid above in mind and the fact that there's no recording from Lau or När, it is not strange that practically nothing of the genuine Gutnish dialect is represented on SweDia. Trust me, there are many who speak Gutnish in Gotland. It's just that it is best preserved where the number of stockholmers is fewest. (Guess why Gutnish is practically extincted in the northwestern parts of the islands and replaced by Stockholmish... No wonder that Peter Isotalo feels like he's at home when visiting Gotland. It's like saying that the aboriginal languages of Australia sounds very similar to English after having only visited the parts of Australia where English is completely dominating. Why not try visiting parts of Australia where aboriginals dominate, like in the northwest?)
Author: Jens Persson, jepe2503 at hotmail dot com . (6 Jan 2006)
Just for the record, I can't accurately judge the validity of Jens' complaints about Swedia, but I can assert that Swedias interviewers don't simply speak Standard Swedish with their informants; it's clearly audible in many of the samples where you can hear the interviewer. Generally, I'm very skeptical to the idea that such a major linguistic project wouldn't know the first thing about collecting dialect samples. Especially not since Swedish dialectology has traditions that go back more than a century. The link he provided to "better representations" are actually just older samples from older speakers, most of them born around the late 19th and early 20th century.
As for the "aboriginal" comments I can only say: this isn't the first time Jens claims that he knows where and how the genuine rural dialects are spoken while insisting that established linguists fumble in the dark due to their Stockholm-inspired ignorance and that their linguistic data is flawed. I feel he should do more to actually prove these claims.
Peter Isotalo 08:15, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
I know that they have made serious mistakes in the treatment of the collected material (concrete example: In the samples from Jämtland, they translate the dialect's ma pron. =we as man pron. =one), which makes it likely that the project isn't very scientific. I still claim that the SweDia project doesn't show the most genuine dialectal features, but at the same time, that's not really the main idea of the project. The main idea is to show how people typically speak, and I think that SweDia is more or less accurate on this. The Wikipedia article on Gutniska has not much to do with the SweDia samples from Gotland, that's for sure. The same with the article on Jamtlandic which doesn't have much to do with the correpsonding SweDia samples. The articles aim at the old, consistent and systematic features of the genuine dialects, not on how people today typically speak in the corresponding areas. (Remember, Shetland Scots is far from being Shetland Norn, though they're intimately related.) I think that this is my main objection to your comments.
Jens Persson (213.67.64.22 21:50, 17 July 2006 (UTC))
Old Gutnish is essentially a form of East Norse (there are more characteristic shared innovations with Danish and Swedish, apart from the lowering of long u to long o in certain words such as so, ko or tro, such as a becoming e in certain words such as that becoming thet, like in Modern Swedish det, and also the analogical elimination of the u-umlaut is shared with Old Swedish) that did not take part in certain early common Danish-Swedish innovations, most prominently the monophthongisation (although according to Swedish language, certain archaic dialects north and east of Mälardalen have not carried the monophthongisation through, either); however, subsequently Old Gutnish had developed a number of peculiar innovative traits as well.
Gutnish is sometimes said to be the "purest" form of East Norse, or at least the eastern extreme, which has the most Eastnordicisms of all the North Germanic dialects, just like Icelandic combines the most Westnordicisms, and being insular, both forms exhibit striking conservative traits. Had Gutnish become isolated and not been affected by the closely related Swedish, for example if Gotland had become part of the Russian empire, there is no reason why it should not have developed into something notably different from Swedish, even Faroese is clearly different from Nynorsk, after all, after centuries of not even entirely independent development.
The root of the problem is that Gutnish and Swedish are so closely related that it is difficult to tell if a dialect is Gotlandish, a variant of Swedish heavily influenced by a Gutnish substratum, or genuine Gutnish, but flooded with Swedish borrowings. The only way to tell them apart is the morphology (especially bound, fusional morphology), and unique irregularities such as instances of suppletion. Also viable arguments are phonetic archaisms that cannot be explained simply through sound substitution (such as missing mergers), provided they are sufficiently old, in this case, older than the 17th century.
Systematic, structural, paradigmatic correspondences are the most reliable arguments for genetic relationship, because these are the most characteristic properties of a language, those at its heart. If you took a Romance language, took out the Romance verb endings and suppletive comparation forms of the core adjectives, as well as suppletive forms such as bonus - bene, all inherited from Latin, you would essentially rob the language of its "Romance-ness" and cut its genetic ties with Latin because there would be no way to tell if it is not simply a Romance-based pidgin with Romance vocabulary, but foreign grammar. (That's also the reason why Afrikaans is often described as "half-creolised": no other Germanic language has lost the strong verbs almost completely. Some sort of pidgin that was then decreolised was probably involved, as has been suspected for AAVE.)
If you read even the (very rough) transcription of the Gotlandic young woman's speech in SweDia, you will notice that the diphthongal quality of the old diphthongs has been retained. Or so it seems; but it is not clear that they were secondarily diphthongised anew, either. It does not look solely like an "eye dialect". If the dialects of Gotland were simply Swedish dialects they should be very close to modern standard Swedish, since the replacement cannot have taken place before the 17th century, when Gotland came under Swedish rule; they must be closer than Scanian, closer than Jamtlandic or Elfdalian, certainly, but also closer than any of the other traditional dialects, since then they are effectively derived from Early Modern Swedish, or even Late Modern Swedish. But as the table on Swedish dialects shows, on Gotland, even the palatalisation ("softening") of the velars is uniquely missing!
In sum, the notion that Gutnish is long extinct is certainly open to severe doubt. I cannot solve the issue definitely, not in the fashion of an armchair scholar, at least, and going by what I've seen so far, the speech of Gotland has converged with (standard) Swedish to a large extent, no doubt due to the close relationship, but if there are still dialects with archaic verb inflections, as even Peter Isotalo has admitted, this strongly undermines the case against an unbroken tradition. Modern Gutnish, at least, does not seem to be a greater chimera then Modern Scanian, Jamtlandic or Elfdalian. If we can speak of a Scanian, Jamtlandic or Elfdalian language which is not simply a variety of Swedish, but something more self-contained linguistically, then we can also speak of Modern Gutnish as a separate entity.
(To say nothing of the fact that national borders should never be an argument in linguistic classification, including of dialect continua. The trick is to find the most suitable isogloss for the task - preferrably common innovations that are as old as possible, and have been preserved well. It might not always be possible, but one should at least try.)
Simply pretending that Gutnish is extinct, and that it cannot be considered a language, without very good reasons, is dishonest and we should refrain from that. Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:05, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

categorize[edit]

Change cat to Swedish dialects: AFIK, Gutnisk is not a current language spoken in Sweden. (it is either an extinct language or a dialect). // Fred-Chess 16:40, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

I assume you mean swedish dialects of Scandinavian here, since it would be wrong to call Gutnish a dialect of Swedish. Similarly, the Faroese ones are danish dialects of Scandinavian (Faroese islands belong to Denmark), not dialects of Danish.
Jens Persson (130.242.128.85 19:17, 10 February 2006 (UTC))


Merge with Gutnish[edit]

The article Gutnish does not add any new information that couldn't be in this article. And the article Old Gutnish does not have an link to the Gutnish article, I think the two artikles has been created without knowledge about the other. Elbl02 11:31, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

We should call the new article Gutnish, if a merge is to be done. I mean, you wouldn't e.g. have Old English as the main entry for English, would you? Old Gutnish is Gutnish spoken during a very special period. What do you think?
Note that I have linked the article Gutnish with the corresponding Swedish speaking one called Gutniska.
Jens Persson (130.242.128.85 01:37, 22 November 2006 (UTC))
There is not a single source supporting the article on modern Gutnish.
Peter Isotalo 09:40, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
I came across these two sites: [1] and [2] (mainly the first one). Websites aren't scientific sources of course, but I doubt that they are making this up. From what I understand from the first site, there is a rather distinct language on Gotland which confined to remote parts of the island, and a Swedish dialect called Gotländska which is mistaken for the real Gutnish. This also confirms what I have heard from someone from Gotland. --Chlämens 01:23, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
Independent internet sources mentioning the word (search for gutniska in the pages): (1), (2), (3), (4).
NB: Gutniska (Gutnish in English since forngutniska is Old Gutnish in English) is simply the local word for what the dialectologist call Gutamål. Source (4) has a slightly different perspective on this, though.
Satisfied, mr Isotalo? Don't say there are no reliable sources. The number of hits on the word gutniska on Google is 23,400; it's not an invented word, thus.
Jens Persson (213.67.64.22 22:00, 12 January 2007 (UTC))