https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mundgeirr

19th century Danish/Norwegian and modern Danish

Hey everyone!

I'm a learner of Norwegian and I like reading classic literature in that language. Since many important authors wrote in the Danish written standard by that time (19th century) I'd like to ask you how different it is compared to modern Danish. Here is a short fragment of Knut Hamsun's "Sult" in original version (I wrote nouns in lower case and changed aa for å):

"Det var i den tid, jeg gik omkring og sulted i Kristiania, denne forunderlige by, som ingen forlader, før han har fået mærker af den . . . .

Jeg ligger vågen på min kvist og hører en klokke nedenunder mig slå seks slag; det var allerede ganske lyst, og folk begyndte at færdes op og ned i trapperne. Nede ved døren, hvor mit rum var tapetseret med gamle numre af »Morgenbladet«, kunde jeg så tydelig se en bekendtgørelse fra fyrdirektøren, og lidt tilvenstre derfra et fedt, bugnende avertissement fra bager Fabian Olsen om nybagt brød.

Straks jeg slog øjnene op, begyndte jeg af gammel vane at tænke efter, om jeg havde noget at glæde mig til idag. Det havde været lidt knapt for mig i den sidste tid; den ene efter den anden af mine ejendele var bragt til »Onkel«, jeg var bleven nervøs og utålsom, et par gange havde jeg også ligget tilsengs en dags tid af svimmelhed. Nu og da, når lykken var god, kunde jeg drive det til at få fem Kroner af et eller andet blad for en føljeton.

Det lysned mer og mer, og jeg gav mig til at læse på avertissementerne nede ved døren; jeg kunde endog skælne de magre, grinende bogstaver om »ligsvøb hos jomfru Andersen, tilhøjre i porten«. Det sysselsatte mig en lang stund, jeg hørte klokken slå otte nedenunder, inden jeg stod op og klædte mig på."

What are the main differences with today's Danish?

Thanks in advance

November 16, 2016

3 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jonas_Soe

Mostly just spelling. Past-tense words in this text don't end with an E which they would in modern Danish, some words containing "nd" or "ld" between two vowels would have "nn" or "ll" today (e.g. "kunde" means "customer" today, "kunne" means could), and modern Danish has some different loan-words (avertissement - reklame in modern Danish). All kinds of little details like that. If you go back a little further, there are also differences in word order, and nouns used to begin with capital letters, like in German.

But really the biggest difference is pronounciation. Going back 50 years is enough to make it sound really old-timey and archaic, so I can't even imagine what 19th century Danish sounded like. Probably more similar to Norwegian.

November 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Poulpoul

I agree, very little difference compared to modern Danish.

I'd add that some of the prepositions seems to have changed.

E.g. - 'op og ned i trapperne'. Today you would say 'op og ned ad trapperne'. It can be an artistic choice to use 'i'. I don't know.

  • 'ligget tilsengs' . Today you would say 'ligget i seng'
November 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CelChaussette

I've started reading Andersen and I was also wondering about the differences, I would be interested in hearing comments about this.

November 16, 2016
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