Arnstein Hjelde

English influence on the America-Norwegian vocabulary

One of the most prominent features distinguishing the Norwegian language in America from this language in Europe, is the many hundred English lexical elements found in the America-Norwegian vocabulary. Some of these words are totally integrated into the Norwegian phonological and morphological system, while others have kept most of their original properties. The transfer of English lexical elements into America-Norwegian is obviously not a new phenomenon; most studies of this variety of Norwegian has focused on the English influence on the vocabulary, from Flom and Flaten, in the early 1900s through Haugen in the 1940s and 50s, to Hjelde  in the 1990s.

This paper will focus on such English lexical elements in the America-Norwegian vocabulary as found in the Coon Valley and Westby settlement in Vernon County, Wisconsin. The aim will be two-folded: First of all I will focus on the way and to what degree these words are integrated into Norwegian. Furthermore, I will try to detect changes over time in the way English lexical elements have influenced the America-Norwegian vocabulary. By comparing the material from the 1990s with the findings of Haugen in the 1930s and 40s, as well as Flom and Flaten around 1900, I hope to be able to point at some general tendencies in the way the America-Norwegian vocabulary has evolved. Finally, in a study of English elements in the America-Norwegian vocabulary, it is also relevant to comment on the distinction between code switching, nonce borrowing and borrowing.


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Flom, George T. (1926): English Loanwords in American Norwegian. As spoken in the Koshkonong settlement, Wisconsin. American Speech Vol. 1, s.541-558
Haugen, Einar (1953): The Norwegian Language in America
Hjelde, Arnstein (1992): Trøndsk talemål i Amerika