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Norn language

The Norn language was an offshoot of Old Norse. It was spoken in the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands of Scotland. After the islands were ceded to the Kingdom of Scotland in the 15th century, its use was discouraged by the Scottish government and The Kirk (the national church), and it was replaced by Scots over time.

It is not known exactly when Norn became extinct; it may have been spoken in some parts of these islands until the 18th century. Isolated snippets of the language and loan-words adopted into English or Scots survived the death of the language.

Dialects of Norse had also been spoken on mainland Scotland — for example, in Caithness — but here they became extinct many centuries before Norn died on Orkney and Shetland. Hence, some scholars speak about "Caithness Norn" also, but others avoid this. Even less is known about "Caithness Norn" than about Orkney and Shetland Norn.

Relatively little written Norn has survived. What we do have includes a version of the Lord's Prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13, Orkney Norn (Wallace transcription; 1700)

Favor i ir i chimrie, Helleur ir i nam thite,
gilla cosdum thite cumma, veya thine mota vara gort
o yurn sinna gort i chimrie,
ga vus da on da dalight brow vora
Firgive vus sinna vora sin vee Firgive sindara mutha vus,
lyv vus ye i tumtation, min delivera vus fro olt ilt, Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13, Shetland Norn (Low transcription; 1774)

Fy vor or er i Chimeri. Halaght vara nam dit.
La Konungdum din cumma. La vill din vera guerde
i vrildin sindaeri chimeri.
Gav vus dagh u dagloght brau. Forgive sindorwara
sin vi forgiva gem ao sinda gainst wus.
Lia wus ik o vera tempa, but delivra wus fro adlu idlu.
For do i ir Kongungdum, u puri, u glori, Amen

Matthew 6:9-13, Faroese (closest extant relative)

Fair vr, T, sum ert Himli. Heilagt veri navn Ttt.
Komi rki Ttt. Veri vilji Tn,
sum Himli, so jr.
Gev okkum dag okkara dagliga brey. Og fyrigev okkum syndir okkara,
so sum vit eisini fyrigeva teimum, i mti okkum synda.
Lei okkum ikki frestingum, men frels okkum fr t illa.

Matthew 6:9-13, Old Norse:

Faer vr es ert himenrki, veri nafn itt hilagt
Til kome rke itt, vri vili in
sva a iaru sem himnum.
Gef oss dag brau vort dagligt
Ok fyr gefu oss syner rar,
sem vr fyr gefom eim er vi oss hafa misgert
Leid oss eigi freistni, heldr leys v oss fr llu illu.
Source: orvaldur Bjarnarson, 1878.



Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45