Written Norwegian is basically Danish. Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun wrote in Danish. There are these small modifications, but it is still very Danish. That’s the conservative. And then you have another language that is invented, that a man travelling the countryside wrote down everything and invented a language, which is based on the way people speak, which is very different but still, both are Norwegian.
And then you have the thing in between, a kind of radical language, Bokmål, which is also a sociological thing. If you were on the left side in the ’70s you would talk in way to side yourself with the workers, and so on, and it is a language thing. When I was growing up the writers I liked wrote like that, but when I started writing my first book I needed a kind of a distance, and I took that distance in that conservative language. At the same time Marcel Proust was translated for the first time into Norwegian, and his language is very conservative and has a very French feeling to it. It was something completely new in Norwegian language and I was obsessed with it. There’s a lot of it in my first book. Kind of French-conservative-Norwegian language, long, long sentences. I don’t think it’s possible to relate this to English, because you have a kind of standard English, don’t you?
Friday, November 28, 2014
A language thing
This tab's been open for a while: a long and interesting interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard by Kyle Buckley for Hazlitt. Here's a good linguistic bit about radical Norwegian and conservative Norwegian: