Some Trends in Norwegian Linguistics 1800–1850
The first Norwegian university was founded in 1811; in 1814 Norway became independent from Denmark. These two factors were decisive for the establishment of a linguistic milieu in Norway and for the development of linguistics in that country during the 19th century. Three scholars of very different backgrounds and interests dominated Norwegian linguistics in the first half of the 19th century: One, Christopher Holmboe (1796–1882) was a pupil of A. I. Silvestre de Sacy in Paris and from 1825 on Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo (Christiania). The main bulk of his linguistic production lay within comparative Indo-European philology, but in some minor works he also made interesting observations on various non-Indo-European languages and on topics within general linguistics. The second, Ludvig Caesar Martin Aubert (1807–87), became professor of Latin in 1840. Besides writing important works concerning Latin syntax and general syntactic theory, he introduced comparative Indo-European linguistics to Norway in a series of lectures from 1843 on. His sober and critical attitude concerning language study made him much more influential than Holmboe, whose somewhat oldfashioned preconceptions made him an outsider on the scientific (though not on the organizational) level of the discipline. The third figure was Ivar Aasen (1813–96), who never held a university position, but who as the founder of landsmål (nynorsk), the initiator of Norwegian dialectology, and the author of the first grammar of modern Norwegian had a tremendous impact both on Norvegian linguistics and on the socio-cultural development of Norway in the 19th and 20th century. The paper attempts to depict the intellectual background and the relations between these three men, their relationship to previous and contemporary European linguistics, to some basic trends of Norwegian society of their time as well as to the subsequent development of Norvegian linguistics.