Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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 Lowland 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. Small parts of the language and loan-words adopted into the local Lowland Scots and Scottish English survived the death of the main 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 also speak about "Caithness Norn", 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 ikè o vera tempa, but delivra wus fro adlu idlu.
- For do i ir Kongungdum, u puri, u glori, Amen
Matthew 6:9-13, Old Norse:
- Faþer vár es ert í himenríki, verði nafn þitt hæilagt
- Til kome ríke þitt, værði vili þin
- sva a iarðu sem í himnum.
- Gef oss í dag brauð vort dagligt
- Ok fyr gefþu oss synþer órar,
- sem vér fyr gefom þeim er viþ oss hafa misgert
- Leiðd oss eigi í freistni, heldr leys þv oss frá öllu illu.
Matthew 6:9-13, Faroese (closest extant relative):
- Faðir vár, Tú, sum ert í Himli. Heilagt verði navn Títt.
- Komi ríki Títt. Verði vilji Tín,
- sum í Himli, so á jørð.
- Gev okkum í dag okkara dagliga breyð. Og fyrigev okkum syndir okkara,
- so sum vit eisini fyrigeva teimum, ið móti okkum synda.
- Leið okkum ikki í frestingum, men frels okkum frá tí illa.
- Source: Þorvaldur Bjarnarson, 1878.
- Barnes, Michael P. "Orkney and Shetland Norn". In Language in the British Isles, ed. Peter Trudgill, 352-66. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
- ------. The Norn Language of Orkney and Shetland. Lerwick: Shetland Times, 1998.
- Jakobsen, Jakob. An Etymological Dictionary of the Norn Language in Shetland. 2 vols. London/Copenhagen: David Nutt/Vilhelm Prior, 1928-32 (reprinted 1985).
- Low, George. A Tour through the Islands of Orkney and Schetland. Kirkwall: William Peace, 1879.
- Marwick, Hugh. The Orkney Norn. London: Oxford University Press, 1929.
- Rendboe, Laurits. "The Lord's Prayer in Orkney and Shetland Norn 1-2". North-Western European Language Evolution 14 (1989): 77-112 and 15 (1990): 49-111.
- Wallace, James. An Account of the Islands of Orkney. London: Jacob Tonson, 1700.
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