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The Norn Language of Orkney and Shetland Paperback – 17 Mar 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Shetland Times Ltd (17 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1898852294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1898852292
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 0.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,634,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


For some 950 years a Scandinavian language was spoken in Orkney and Shetland. It was introduced into the islands by Viking settlers and became the dominant form of speech there. Norroena, or Norn as it was later called, remained the chief medium of oral and written communication in the Northern Isles throughout the Viking Age for much of the Middle Ages. This book traces the history of Norn, describes its principal features and provides a selection of Scandinavian-language texts from the Northern Isles accompanied by English translation and commentary.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I visited Orkney with the object of discovering what I could about Norn I was disappointed to find nothing in any of the many bookshops I visited, and the people I spoke to. However, just before boarding the ferry to leave I discovered this book, and it is exactly what I planned to write to fill the gap. The author has traced every one of the sparse sources, to give a taste of the language in its latter days before it finally fell out of use against the pressure of the dominant Scots tongue. It is to be regretted that more written examples did not survive to the present day, and it is always to be regretted when a language dies, but this book is a poignant memorial to a way of life and thought that dominated the islands and much of the Caithness mainland for centuries.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x92a05690) out of 5 stars 1 review
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92bc6234) out of 5 stars A wonderful reference 8 Aug. 2005
By Mark Williamson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is probably the best (and perhaps the only) reference for the extinct Scandinavian language of Orkney and Shetland, Norn.

Much of the book, however, is about Old Norse texts which are merely from (or believed to be from) the islands, even though not all of them contain any traces of local (ie, distinctly Norn) forms.

He only analyses one of the two translations of the Our Father, and only 8 of the 23 verses of the Hildina ballad, the longest examples of modern Norn (ie, the language that is distinctly Norn, rather than just Old Norse).

However, despite this, there is no comparable work, and until such time as there is, I believe this book deserves all 5 stars.
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