Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A ≈ Å = Aa


This may seem like a "fast one" for native English speaking participants in ABC Wednesday. It isn't. I have chosen this letter Å = Aa to stand for the fact that many Roman alphabets consist of more than 26 letters. In our case it is 29. The others are Æ=Ae and Ø=Oe. However - Å=Aa will do for now: Wikipedia explains it like this:

The letter Å represents various ò sounds in the Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, North Frisian, Walloon, Chamorro, and Istro-Romanian language alphabets. Other alphabets using the letter include the Lule Sami, Skolt Sami, and Southern Sami alphabet.

Å is often perceived as an A with a ring, interpreting the ring as a diacritical mark. However, in the languages that use it, the ring is not considered a diacritic but part of the letter. It developed as a form of semi-ligature of an A with another smaller a above it to denote a long a, similar to how the umlaut mark ¨ is developed from a small e written above the letter in question.

Furthermore:
In an attempt to modernize the orthography, linguists tried to introduce the Å to Danish and Norwegian writing in the 19th century. Most people felt no need for the new letter, although the letter group Aa had already been pronounced like Å for centuries all over Scandinavia. Aa was usually treated as a single letter, spoken like the present Å when spelling out names or words. Orthography reforms making Å official were carried out in Norway in 1917 and in Denmark in 1948. It has been argued that the Å only made its way to official Danish spelling due to anti-German and pro-Scandinavian sentiment after World War II. Danish had been the only language apart from German to use capitalized nouns, but abolished them at the same occasion. In a few names of cities or towns, the old spelling has been retained, e.g. Aalborg.
In our language (Norwegian) it has many uses, among them as infinitive marker corresponding to the English to. It is also, as in this case, a name (often meaning "little river"). The road sign shown here is from Å in the municipality of Moskenes in Lofoten in the county of Nordland in Norway. There are however, several places in Scandinavia bearing this name.

42 comments:

photowannabe said...

Its amazing what one can learn from fellow bloggers. Great A post and I appreciate the information.

evlahos said...

Thank you for this lesson.

Paulie said...

Interesting info about the letter A with that little circle above it. I wonder if our long and short sounds of vowels make up for it? I mean , that would give us 5 more letters so to speak. . . lol Good choice for "A." Drop by and see what I settled on finally.

mrsnesbitt said...

The phrase"You learn something new every day!" springs to mind, and Wednesdays surely deliver many new things every week.

ArneA said...

ABC only on this blog? or will you also cover the day in you Norwegian blog.
Godt poeng forresten

Ida said...

Ååååååhhhhhh....! ;)
Creative! :)

david mcmahon said...

Perfect picture, Runee - and I really enjoyed the post. I didn't know about the 29-letter alphabet.

Ackworth Born said...

I was aware your language had 29 letters, but didn't realise quite the order they came in. The Engelsk/Dansk Lommeordbøger I bought in Denmark about 20 years ago has Æ as the 27th letter, Ø as the 28th and Å as the 29th.

Icelandic of course also has Ð (ð), whilst German has ß

Old English always had æ but is usually transliterated as ae.

Fascinating stuff really.

oldmanlincoln said...

I have since forgotten but the origins of our Roman alphabet only had 19 or 20 letters or was it more?

Nessa said...

Very interesting. I tried using one of those free translation programs to translate a few of the Norwegian blogs I visit but it didn't work well at all.

Did someone shoot that sign or throw at rock at it?

Sharon said...

That was interesting. I tell my second graders that you never stop learning new things and here is a perfect example of that. Great A!

hpy said...

The Ä and the Ö exist in Finnish but not the Å. Even Åland is spelled Ahvenanmaa....

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Fantastic... I'm feeling less guilty for spending time on the computer today because I can say I learned something new today... whew! Thank you professor Rune!
~Michele~

DarylE said...

Very interesting ..

VP said...

Hi RuneE and thanks for your comment on my blog! Thanks for posting this - I've learnt a lot today.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Language is constantly evolving and there always seems to be something new to learn. I have been trying to teach myself Spanish for about a year and very slowly been getting the hang of it. I wouldn't want to try and tackle your language, 26 letters are enough for me ;)

kml said...

Glad you posted about the letter A in your language - I learned something new!

GAWO said...

Å dette var ikke værst. Tror ikke noen andre enn deg hadde kommet på at A er Aa er Å.
Jeg har slengt med med jeg også idag så nå får vi se hva det blir til. Det begynner å bli travelt det her :-)

RuneE said...

GAWO: Takk for komplimenten! Du går travle tider i møte - minst like mye aktivitet som SWF, og til dels de samme personene.

happyone said...

Didn't know any of that. Thanks for the lesson.

Peter M said...

Sounds like "A" bit of a tongue twister to me, like the post

Dragonstar said...

Fascinating post, very informative, thank you.

Alan said...

A fun lesson in linguistics! Thanks for sharing.

Yolanda said...

I enjoy visiting your blog and seeing your photos of norway and for the information.

Nathalie said...

Enjoyed this post very much. The letters we don't have in the French alphabet never cease to fascinate me!

Nathalie said...

PS - still unsure of the pronounciation. Could you give us a few English words with an equivalent sound?

imac said...

Er yes - I'll take your word for it sir. 26 letters is sometimes hard let alone 29.haha

Great pic for A-with a little o above it.

Neva said...

What an interesting "A"!

bonnie said...

You are such a natural educator. What a pleasure it is to learn so much from your posts. Thank you for your effort.

Mr. Mapper said...

A wonderful A

DigitalShutterMania said...

Thanks very big for this lesson Ååå : )

Kate said...

A very informative and educational post for ABC Wednesday!

Lilli & Nevada said...

Very interesting for the beginning of the letter A
I have now figured out how to add photos to my blog from my friends puter takes me a long time to figure things out LOL

AVCR8TEUR said...

Thank you for the language lesson. It would be more difficult if we did ABC Wednesday with 29 letters of the alphabet.

RuneE said...

I must say that I am overwhelmed by the interest shown by so many in the intricacies of the Scandinavian alphabets.

Thank you all!

Lara said...

so interesting! thanks for explaining, I've always wondered about this...

Andrea said...

They say we will learn something new every day and I have learned something new today. Thanks for the interesting info.

If I could I would send you one of those apples in my post. But as you know I can't so I will just eat one with you in my thoughts. Yum, crunchy, tart and delicious.

leslie said...

How original...who else thought to start at the beginning? Great!

Flassie's Fil'a said...

It's always nice to learn
something new.

Great photo choice of an A!

Oswegan said...

Looks like someone shot a hole in the sign.

Katney said...

Thank you so much for the lesson. Youhave represented A well.

Max-e said...

Hi Runee, intersting post. I have always wondered about some of the Scandanavian vowels and now I know. Thanks