7 May 2015

Elfdalian: the Nordic language that no one knows of


Most people know Nordic languages such as Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese, and Icelandic, but deep in the Swedish woods exists a language which very few people have ever heard of. Elfdalian, which the language is known as, is spoken by 2,000 people in the region of Dalarna in Sweden. 7 and 8 May, researchers from the Nordic countries will meet in Copenhagen to discuss Elfdalian, which contains Old Norse as well as modern Nordic linguistic features.

- For linguists, Elfdalian is a treasure trove. It is, in some ways, deeply conservative – at least as conservative as the Old Norse spoken by the Vikings, which is why it can be seen as a linguistic deep freezer that allows us to observe features that became obsolete in all other Nordic languages a long time ago. Other aspects of Elfdalian are, however, precious because they are so moderne, says postdoc Guus Kroonen, who is one of the organisers behind the Third Conference on Elfdalian at the University of Copenhagen 7 and 8 May.

During the conference, you can see an exhibition on Elfdalian and other Dalarna dialects and hear academic lectures on the language, which is attracting more and more attention in linguistic circles.

However, Elfdalian is under pressure from standard Swedish, mass media, and a school in which Elfdalian was not allowed, so its status as the natural means of communication in the parish of Älvdalen has been declining.

Hear two of the organisers present the conference in Elfdalian below:

Follow the conference online

The conference will be livestreamed on the Internet - see stream below - so you can listen to and watch the lectures no matter where you are, and you can participate via the Twitter hashtag #radstemna.

Read more about this possibility and the conference on our website.


Postdoc Guus Kroonen
Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics
University of Copenhagen
Phone: + 45 30427846
Mail: guus@hum.ku.dk

Postdoc Bjarne Simmelkjær Sandgaard Hansen
Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics
University of Copenhagen
Phone: + 45 21 67 98 03
Mail: bssh@hum.ku.dk