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North Germanic




The Teutons who stayed in Scandinavia after the departure of the Goths gave rise to the North Germanic subgroup of languages. They lived on the southern coast of the Scandinavian peninsula and in Northern Denmark. The speech of the North Germanic tribes showed little dialectal variation until the 9th c. and is regarded as a sort of common North Germanic parent-language called Old Norse and Old Scandinavian. The disintegration of Old Norse into separate dialects and languages began after the 9th c., when the Scandinavians started out on their sea voyages. The principal linguistic differentiation in Scandinavia corresponded to the political division into Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The three kingdoms constantly fought for dominance and the relative position of the three languages altered, as one or another of the powers prevailed over its neighbors. For several hundred years Denmark was the most powerful of the Scandinavian kingdoms, therefore both Swedish and Norwegian were influenced by Danish. In the later Middle Ages, with the growth of capitalist relations and the unification of the countries, Danish, and then Swedish developed into national literary languages. Norwegian was the last to develop into an independent national language. During the period of Danish dominance Norwegian intermixed with Danish, therefore there emerged two varieties of the Norwegian tongue. In addition to the three languages on the mainland, the North Germanic subgroup includes two more languages: Icelandic and Faroese, whose origin goes back to the Viking Age. In the Faroe Islands the West Norwegian dialects brought by the Scandinavians developed into a separate language called Faroese. It is spoken nowadays by 30000 people. Iceland was practically uninhabited at the time of the first Scandinavian settlements. Their West Scandinavians dialects, at first identical with those of Norway, eventually grew into an independent language, Icelandic.






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