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Higher category: Language
Scanian (Swedish: skånska [ˈskɔ̂nːska] (listen); Danish: skånsk) is a dialect of Swedish spoken in the province of Scania in southern Sweden. Older Scanian formed part of the old Scandinavian dialect continuum and are by most historical linguists considered to be an East Danish dialect group, but due to the modern-era influence from Standard Swedish in the region and because traditional dialectology in the Scandinavian countries normally has not considered isoglosses that cut across state borders, the Scanian dialects have normally been treated as part of the South Swedish dialects by Swedish dialectologists. However, many of the early Scandinavian linguists, including Adolf Noreen and G. Sjöstedt, classified it as "South Scandinavian", and some linguists, such as Elias Wessén, also considered Old Scanian a separate language, classified apart from both Old Danish and Old Swedish.
There has been active campaigning from local Scanian interest groups to promote Scanian as a separate language on par with the official minority languages, though this has been rejected by Swedish authorities. Swedish linguists generally view Scanian as just one of many local or regional Swedish (or Scandinavian) dialects, some of which differ considerably from Standard Swedish but don't meet the criteria of a separate language.
Scanian was originally classified as a separate language in ISO 639-3, but was declassified as a language in 2009. A request for reinstatement was submitted during the 2009 annual review process, but rejected on the grounds of mutual intelligibility; it is listed in ISO 639-6 with code scyr.
Swedish and Danish are considered to have been the same dialect, Old East Norse, up until the 12th century. However, some scholars speculate that there might have been certain dialect differences within the Nordic language area as early as the Proto-Nordic period. The term Swedish is not mentioned specifically in any source until the first half of the 14th century, and no standard spoken language had developed in either Sweden or Denmark before 1500, although some scholars argue that there may have been tendencies towards a more formal "courteous" language among the aristocracy.
Scanian appeared in writing before 1200, at a time when Swedish and Danish had yet to be codified, and the long struggle between Sweden and Denmark over the right to claim the Old Scanian manuscripts as an early form of either of the two national state languages has led to some odd twists and turns. Two Scanian fragments dated to around 1325 were initially claimed to be (younger) Old Swedish, but further research in modern times has claimed that the language was not Swedish, but Scanian. During the 20th century the fragments were thus relabeled early Old Danish by Scandinavian linguists, and as explained by Danish linguist Britta Olrik Frederiksen, the fragments are now thought to "represent as such a newly claimed territory for the history of the Danish language". Like the Scanian Law, one of the fragments, a six-leaf fragment (catalogued as SKB A 120), is written in the runic alphabet. The place of writing, according to Frederiksen, has been tentatively identified as the Cistercian monastery at Herrevad Abbey in Scania. The fragment contains a translation of Mary's lament at the cross. The other fragment (catalogued as SKB *A 115) is a bifolium with just over a hundred metrical lines of knittelvers, a translation from Latin of the apocryphal gospel Evangelium Nicodemi about Christ's descent into hell and resurrection.
In modern Scandinavian linguistic research, the assertion that Old Scanian was a Swedish dialect before the Swedish acquisition of most of old Skåneland is now seldom argued by linguistic scholars, although the comparative and historical research efforts continue.
One of the artifacts sometimes referred to as support for the view of Scanian as separate from both the Swedish and Danish language is a letter from the 16th century, where the Danish Bible translators were advised not to employ Scanian translators since their language was not "proper Danish".
As pointed out by the Norwegian scholar Lars S. Vikør, professor, Nordic and Linguistics Studies, University of Oslo, in the 2001 book Language and Nationalism, the "animosity between the two countries [Sweden and Denmark], and the relative closeness of their standard languages (dialectal differences within each of the two countries were greater than [between] the two standards), made it imperative to stress the difference between them in the standardization process". According to Vikør, the "Swedish treatment of the Scanians perhaps shows [that] the most important element of the [linguistic nationalism] ideology is the desire to stress the difference from another linguistic entity that in some way may be considered threatening or challenging one's own autonomy."
In Scania, the Swedish government officially limited the use of Scanian in 1683 by nullifying the self-rule granted in the Treaty of Roskilde and the Malmö Recess of 1662, where Scania had been granted the right to a certain degree of autonomy including preservation of its old laws and customs. Scania became fully integrated into the Swedish Kingdom in 1719, and the assimilation has accelerated during the 20th century, with the dominance of Standard Swedish-language radio and television, urbanization, and movement of people to and from the other regions of Sweden.
Bornholm was once part of Skåneland but rebelled and returned to Denmark in 1659. The Scanian dialect of Bornholm remained in use as a functioning transitional stage, but Standard Danish soon became dominant in official contexts, and the dialect is thought to be disappearing.
The gradual transition to Swedish has resulted in the introduction of many new Swedish characteristics into Scanian since the 18th century, especially when it comes to vocabulary and grammar. In spite of the shift, Scanian dialects have maintained a non-Swedish prosody, as well as details of grammar and vocabulary that in some aspects differ from Standard Swedish. The prosody, pronunciation of vowels and consonants in such qualities as length, stress and intonation has more in common with Danish, German and Dutch (and occasionally English) than with Swedish.
However, as pointed out by the researchers involved in the project Comparative Semantics for Nordic Languages, it is difficult to quantify and analyze the fine degrees of semantic differences that exist between the Scandinavian languages in general, even between the national languages Danish, Swedish and Norwegian: "[S]ome of the Nordic languages [..]are historically, lexically and structurally very similar.[...]Are there systematic semantic differences between these languages? If so, are the formal semantic analytic tools that have been developed mainly for English and German sufficiently fine-grained to account for the differences among the Scandinavian languages?"
Research that provides a cross-border overview of the spectrum of modern dialects in the Nordic region has recently been initiated through the Scandinavian Dialect Syntax Project, based at the University of Tromsø, in Norway, in which nine Scandinavian research groups collaborate for the systematic mapping and studying of the syntactic variation across the Scandinavian dialect continuum.
Scanian once had many unique words which do not exist in either Swedish or Danish. In attempts to preserve the unique aspects of Scanian,[failed verification] the words have been recorded and documented by the Institute for Dialectology, Onomastics and Folklore Research in Sweden. Preservation is also accomplished by comparative studies such as the Scanian-Swedish-Danish dictionary project, commissioned by the Scanian Academy. This project is led by Helmer Lång and involves a group of scholars from different fields, including Birger Bergh, linguistics, Inger Elkjær and Inge Lise Pedersen, researcher of Danish dialects.
Several Scanian dictionaries have been published over the years, including one by Sten Bertil Vide, who wrote his doctoral thesis on the names of plants in South Swedish dialects. This publication and a variety of other Scanian dictionaries are available through the Department of Dialectology and Onomastics in Lund.
See also: Swedish phonology
Scanian realizes the phoneme /r/ as a uvular trill [ʀ] in clear articulation, but everyday speech has more commonly a voiceless [χ] or a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ], depending on phonetic context. That is in contrast to the alveolar articulations and retroflex assimilations in most Swedish dialects north of Småland.
The realizations of the highly variable and uniquely Swedish fricative /ɧ/ also tend to be more velar and less labialized than in other dialects. The phonemes of Scanian correspond to those of Standard Swedish and most other Swedish dialects, but long vowels have developed into diphthongs that are unique to the region (such as /ʉː/ and /ɑː/ being realized [eʉ] and [aɑ], respectively). In the southern parts of Skåne, many diphthongs also have a pharyngeal quality, similar to Danish vowels.
Scanian used to have many words which differed from standard Swedish. In 1995 Skånska Akademien released Skånsk-svensk-dansk ordbok, a dictionary with 2,711 Scanian words and expressions. It should be mentioned however that not all of these words are in wide use today. While the general vocabulary in modern Scanian does not differ considerably from Standard Swedish, a few specifically Scanian words still exist which are known in all of Scania, occurring frequently among a majority of the speakers. These are some examples: