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Original: Hugburður til modernað importorð og nýggjyrði í føroyskum, sum er partur av eini størri norðurlendskari verkætlan við heitinum
Final: Hugburður til nýmótans tøkuorð og nýggjyrði í føroyskum


Jógvan í Lon Jacobsen

Fróðskaparsetur Føroya, Føroyamálsdeildin

Aðrir luttakarar:
Prof. Helge Sandoy, University of Bergen


Stuðul úr Granskingargrunninum:
295.489 kr.

Original description:
Endamálið við verkætlanini er at kanna hugburðin hjá føroyingum til modernað importorð (lánorð/fremmandorð) og til nýggjyrði. Hendan hugburðakanningin er partur av eini størri verkætlan, sum skal gerast í øllum málunum í Norðurlondum (Føroyum, Danmark, Íslandi, Noregi, Svøríki og í Finnlandi (bæði svenskum og finskum)). Tann stóra verkætlanin “Modernað importorð í málunum í Norðurlondum, sum tann stóra norðurlendska verkætlanin eitur, fer at koyra parallelt í øllum londunum samstundis. Tær einstøku skulu gera, at til ber at samanbera úrslitini, tá ið liðugt er. Hugburðskanningin er tann størsti parturin í allari tí samlaðu norðurlensku verkætlanini.

Final report:
The purpose of this thesis is to explore the contemporary attitudes toward and usage of import words and neologisms in Faroese. Language is not only a communication tool, but it is also a cultural phenomenon. Language is a precondition of culture. At the same time, language is a result of culture. People create their language, therefore, a language can be viewed as another principal phenomenon of culture, similar to the art of painting or sculpture or literature through which media a culture expresses its ideals, symbols and values. The basic assumption of this paper is that such a culture of language exists and that we are able to study it directly and indirectly. What ideas, ideals and values do people have about language in general? What is the view regarding the Faroese language in an era of globalization?

In general, there is a marked difference between a given positive attitude toward language purism when informants are conscious of the intent of a question regarding language usage, and a pragmatic attitude espoused when they are less conscious of the question’s intent. On an individual level, a positive attitude toward language purism on a conscious level may change into a more critical expression, when less conscious. This becomes obvious with the use of different types of arguments. Generally, people express a positive attitude toward purism when asked directly. Generally, there is great support for purism on the conscious level in all three aspects of the investigation [the public opinion poll (E1), qualitative interviews (E2) and the matched-guise test (E3)]. Around 70% of the respondents in E1 and E2 concur that it would be better to create Faroese neologisms for English import words. In E3, the Faroese text has a higher value than the Faroese-English guise on all scales.

I believe that my informants reflect on language usage on two different levels: one idealistic and one pragmatic. Here, two dimensions are relevant. One dimension is relevant when people are conscious of the question; in these cases they will be politically correct, i.e. they support language purism. This is the politically correct-pragmatic dimension. On the other hand, when people are less conscious of the intent of the question, they often give a pragmatic answer. Since the informants themselves are not always conscious of which types of arguments they are using, we can interpret such data as unconscious attitudes. The other dimension is what I call the surface-concrete dimension. When we put forth a definitive statement, say, “We have to create new Faroese words for the import words” or “It is a good idea to spell import words with Faroese orthography”, the answers show great support for language purism. On the other hand, when we ask concrete questions about the orthography of particular words, we get answers that often are very different from the surface questions.

People in general who support purism see language as the main symbol of one’s nation and identity. However, the great number of pragmatic arguments indicates that, in a concrete communication situation, a Faroese word is not always the first choice. We could, therefore, imagine that a puristic and a pragmatic answer by the same informant could very well indicate a contradiction between the answers. I prefer to interpret the answers not ‘contradictions’, but rather as reflections on two levels: one idealistic and one pragmatic.

The lifestyle variable was only used in E2 (the qualitative section). The lifestyle patterns are very diffuse. Nevertheless, there is an interesting observation: Leaders of modern service organizations (B) are more English-friendly than people from other lifestyles. The "English-friendliness" of the B group is most obvious because of their work within the area of information technology, where most, if not all, of the technical terms are in English. The interviews without a doubt indicate that the answers of the B group are based on English being the technical language of their work environment. So it is quite likely that occupation and education contribute to the differences seen here.

The selection of informants in the qualitative interviews is built on the theory of lifestyles. My use of the conception of lifestyles is based on the Minerva-model, evolved by the Danish sociologist Henrik Dahl (1997). This model is divided into four segments by a horizontal and a vertical line. The four segments are called A, B, C and D. Above the horizontal line – in northwest and northeast – we have leaders in traditional and modern organizations, respectively. Under the horizontal line – in southwest and southeast – we have people below management level in traditional and modern organizations, respectively. The vertical line makes a distinction between modern organizations in the right part of the framework and traditional organizations in the left part.

When there is a difference between the four segments (A, B, C, D), it is more distinct in the dimension high-low than in modern-traditional. On the whole, we can note the following about people who are relatively English-friendly:
They have higher education.
They have a good proficiency in English.
They have a computer and the Internet at home.
They have lived abroad for some time.

These people represent a more modern perspective. If we include the modern-day work environment in this so-called modern perspective or "modernity" (this I have not found empirically), we can then argue that English-friendliness is a characteristic of the modern-day work environment; therefore, we can interpret English-friendliness as a symbol of modernity. On the other hand, we see a connection between the traditional work environment and being ‘Faroese’.

Today, purism seems to be less important as a unifying national symbol. This is obvious in the dictionaries from the 1990’s, where many foreign words are found, compared to older dictionaries. This more liberal attitude to language purism may be the result of several factors: a more open society; more foreign language contact, especially to the English language; globalization; increasing respect for the spoken language among linguists and dictionary editors; increasing acceptance of foreign loan words among specialists in technical language. In addition, the Danes’ liberal attitude toward purism may have affected the Faroese attitude to language purism – through instruction in Danish educational institutions. So the current liberal attitude toward language standardization is perhaps related to a post-modern society that is characterized by less belief in authority, which in turn is consistent with a bigger sense of individualism where individuals choose their own identity and values. People interpret their language in their own way, and the authority to define their language has to a great extent moved from the so-called language authorities to the user. The question of needing a pure lexicon that is an integral part of nation building is no longer the most important issue.

An increasing number of young Faroese take higher academic educations. Given that people in the Faroes who have academic educations often have a more pragmatic or liberal attitude toward Faroese language planning or standardization and are disposed toward English, one can well imagine that purism will probably fade away over time. Language purism finds higher support among people who have limited education. Thøgersen says: “If the elites in these countries [in the Faroes and Norway] do not support a purist policy, or, stated differently, if purist discourse is associated with low status, it would be hard to imagine a long-term future for it” (Thøgersen 2004: 37). The public opinion poll showed that young people are more English-friendly than older people. However, we are not able to state clearly whether this is a trend that will spread to other age groups in the Faroes. When young people show an attitude toward language purism different than that of their elders, it can be interpreted as an on-going change of attitude within society. Such an age difference can be interpreted as an age-dependent phenomenon as well; i.e., a variation related to age is a result of accommodation (convergence) to a well-known pattern in a particular age group.


2008: “Står purismen for fald på Færøerne”? Í: Nordiske sprog- og litteraturdage i København. Mandag den 27. og tirsdag den 28. november 2006. Den Nordatlantiske brygge. 2008, s. 46-56.

2006:“Lívsstílur sum samfelagsbrigdil”. 2006. Í: Malan Marnersdóttir, Dagný Kristjánsdóttir, Leyvoy Joensen og Anfinnur Johansen (ritstj.) Bókmentaljós - heiðursrit til Turið Sigurðardóttur. Felagið Fróðskapur. Faroe University Press. Tórshavn, s. 275-284.

2006: ”Færøerne”. 2006. Í: Tore Kristiansen & Lars S. Vikør (ritstj.) Nordiske språkhaldningar. Ei meningsmåling. Í røðini ”Moderne importord i språka i Norden” bd. IV. Novus Forlag, Oslo, s. 40-60.

2006: “Færøerne” (saman við Tore Kristiansen). 2006. Í: Tore Kristiansen (ritstj.) Nordiske sprogholdninger. En masketest. Í røðini “Moderne importord i språka i Norden” bd. V. Novus Forlag, Oslo, s. 49-64.

2005: ”Eg havi sent tær teldupost, men hygg inn á meylin”. Í: Malan Marnersdóttir, Jens Cramer & Anfinnur Johansen (ritstj.). Eyðvinur. Heiðursrit til Eyðun Andreassen. Føroya Fróðskaparfelag, s 240-44.

2004: “Teldubræv eller e-mail”. 2004. Í: Unn Hellsten o.o. (ritstj.) Språkets vård og värden. En festskrift till Catharina Grünbaum. Norstedts ordbok. Stockholm, s. 87-92.

2004: “Mail ella teldupost? – Fokus á enska ávirkan. 2004. Grein løgd út á heimasíðuna hjá Granskingarráðnum (http//:www.gransking.fo).

2004: “Den officielle normering af færøsk”. 2004. Í: Helge Sandøy og Jan-Ola Östman (ritstj.) “Det främmande” i nordisk språkpolitik. Moderne importord i språka i Norden II, Novus. Oslo, s. 71-104.

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