English has had two basic systems of spelling/pronunciation.
The Old English or Anglo-Saxon one was bequeathed by Alcuin of York to the pronunciation of Latin in Church and administration in what was then known as Francia. This means France, Switzerland, Northern Italy down to Papal States or "Donatio Constantini", Austria, excepting Burgenland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Benelux, much of Germany, Slovenia, Northern Spain (maybe as far south as the border between Galicia and Portugal, but no further). It was a one letter one sound system, in which "man" was actually spelled "man" or "mon", thus probably pronounced with "a" of "father", but if system had been taken into service today the word would have been spelled "mæn".
We skip the spelling of Ormmulum as being an experiment with neither prequel nor sequel. It was used in exactly one poem, by a poet named "Ormm" (hence the name) and it is a headache for English language students.
The other (or, counting Ormmulum, third) spelling system was the one that Chaucer and his contemporaries got from France. Not Francia, in that older sense, but France. It has still the task of transposing English sounds to English letters.
OK, it has shifted in values, but it is clearly closer to French than to Old English. Hous for Hus. Dutee for Dyte (if the word had been used before the Old spelling was disused). Holy for Halig. Yard for Geard. Also, single words have shifted in spelling - which happened in French or Swedish too. When "roy" was no longer pronounced as in English "royal" but as "rwè", "Swessons" was respelled "Soissons". Later all words with "wè" became "wa"/"wuh", both "roi" and "Soissons". Rail and rale - both loan words from French - have same pronunciation in English, so rale is now usually spelled like rail. But Chaucerian spelling system remains the basis.
Swedish spelling, not unlike German, hankers back to the system that Alcuin bequeathed to the continent. Like English after Chaucer and like French it has changed both by gliding - å denoted long a but became a sound like "aw" in Modern English - and by respelling: "thola" was respelled "tåla" as the "o" sound was swamped into the "å"-spellings, and as the sounds "th, dh, gh" were replaced by and respelled as "t, d, g" - or sometimes "th" as "d", "gh" as "j". The limit is known to be the Bible of King Charles XII - it was really a respelled reprint of the Bible of Gustaf Wasa - and that means it was before 1718. "Jagh vill eigh thåla slagh medh thin värghja" became "jag vill ej tåla slag med din värja".
The Swedish system - before and after Bible of Charles XII - has this connexion with Ormmulum system that long vowels are followed by single consonants, short ones by double consonants.
I will give now give the Lord's Prayer as it was pronounced in Stockholm or Helsinki, respelled with the Chaucer system - because that is closer to English - and with the Classic Swedish spelling. The modern Swedish spelling differs from the Classic as Theodore Rossevelt's English from Tolkien's.
|Fader vår som är i himmelen:||Fader woar som ear y himmelen:|
|helgadt varde ditt namn;||helgat waarde dit namn;|
|tillkomme oss ditt rike;||tilcomme os dit rike;|
|ske din vilja, såsom i himmelen så ock på jorden;||shee din wilya, soasom y himmelen soa oc poa yoorden;|
|vårt dagliga bröd gif oss idag;||woart daaglia breu yiiv os idaa;|
|förlåt oss våra skulder, såsom ock vi förlåta dem oss skyldiga äro;||feurloat os woara scoulder soasom oc wii feurloata dom os shuldia1 earo;|
|och inled oss icke i frestelse;||oc inleed os icke y frestelse;|
|utan frels oss ifrån ondo. Amen.||outan frels os ifroan ondo. Amen.|
I cannot recommend Sweden to adopt my Chaucerian respelling of Swedish. The real word "uthärdlig" would be respelled "outheardly" which is too close to the opposite real word, "outhärdlig" ("bearable" vs "unbearable") which in turn it would be clumsy to spell "ooutheardly". Nevertheless it may be used as a kind of phonetic script for English learners. "Churca" as "kyrka", "houset" as "huset", which looks closer to English, what English words do you think they are? Respelling translates maybe half or a third of the words.
The examples "kyrka", "huset" (Alcuinian, real Swedish) for "churca", "houset" (Chaucer respelling Swedish) gives us historical vowels y/u vs u/ou. Y corresponding to English U is pronounced as French u or German ü, whether long or short. U corresponding to English OU - well, both languages it started out as French ou, Mn English oo, and in English it stayed so when short but became the diphthong of German AU when long. In Sweden it is when short the vowel of "girl", but shorter, but when long an ü followed by a w-glide (Stockholm) or like a vowel halfway between oo and ü (Helsinki)2. Finns - the main ethnicity of Helsinki - who have learned Swedish badly often pronounce it "oo".
Swedish "beder", contracted "be'r" still has the same vowel as Chaucer's "bedeth", but in English ee (written e in open stressed syllables) was changed into ii (and what had been that was first changed into @i, ai - "like" pronounced "laik" or - on Martha's Vineyard - "l@ik") and mostly old ææ too, but in Irish accent of English old ææ - "great" - and anywhere young ææ previously æ or aa (depending on whether lengthening or fronting came first) - "name" - became the new ee or ey.
Swedish "sot" and English "soot" have the same vowel - actually longer in Swedish: a short vowel in our language would, according to Ormmulum spelling principles, have to have two consonants or a doubled consonant written after it. Former long a - written å - has now the vowel sound of oa/aw which was previously the vowel in "soot" but is now the vowel in "oars"="åror". Before it had had the sound of modern "fader"="father", but originally that word had a short vowel.
"Sk" is pronounced "sc" before broad vowels ("scoulder" for "skulder" above, it means debts or trespasses or "guilts" - if there were a word meaning instances of being guilty) - but before slender ones it is pronounced "sh" more or less, in Finland totally so, in Sweden a bit otherwise. Thus "guilty" is "skyldig" pronounce "shuldy" (remember: u=Fr u, as back in Chaucer's time). This sound is also spelled "sj" as in "sjel" ("soul"), "sjö" ("lake", not "sea"!) "sju" ("seven") or "skj" - "skjuta"="shoot", "skjorta"="shirt".
Also in Finland you find a real English "ch" - which again is pronounced otherwises in Sweden. "K" before slender vowels - "kyrka"="church", also "kj" - "kjol"="skirt, petticoat", also "tj" - "tjern"="pond, little lake", "tjugo"="twenty".
In Stockholm and Malmö tj/kj/k is purely fricative, more like German ich-laut. Equally in Stockholm and Malmö sj/skj/sk is like a weak German ach-laut hidden by a Scottish "wh" (you will ask someone if you ever get there, or if a Swede gets over to you).
In Helsinki and Malmö "rs" is pronounced as two sounds - Italian "r" in Helsinki, French "r" in Malmö, but in Stockholm they are rather pronounced as one sound - the exact English "sh". Practise to say "kors" in the three dialects. It means "cross". So English "sh" does not exist in Malmö, is pronunciation of "rs" in Stockholm and of "sj/skj/sk" in Helsinki. Despite exactly same pronunciation, words with the "rs" in Stockhlom can hardly be mistaken for words with "sj" etc in Helsinki, since "rs" is never and "sj" etc always word-initial or stem-initial.
In Denmark, it is "sj" that you pronounce like ich-laut, more or less. "kj" and "k" before slender vowels are a "k" followed by a weak ich-laut. "Sjeldent stor kjærlighed" - but Danish is not Swedish anyway.3
You might have noticed that Swedish "j" is never "dj" but always "y" in Swedish (if I gave any examples in my respelling beside the real one). However "dj" as in "didj" can be heard in Finland - when they pronounce "g" before slender vowels ("göra" - make or do), or "gj" ("gjort" - made or done) or "dj" ("djur" - as German "Tier" it means beast, irrational animal) - so in my fake Chaucerian respelling of Swedish these words would be "yeura, yoort, your" for Stockholm, Malmö, but "djeura, djoort, djour" for Helsinki.
German "sch", English "sh", French "j" or "ge" are spelled as in original language, but pronounced as the "sj" sound: "die Dusche, the shawl, le juste dans la loge" (if there is such a one, it could be the "loge" in the theatre, not a Masonic one) in Swedish give "duschen, shalen, den juste i logen".
I will not end on a purely linguistic note.4 Let us get on - or rather back - to the poets.
Atterbom is mainly known for Fogel Blå and Lycksalighetens Ö (Bird Blue and Isle of Bliss), both being versified fairy tale dramas in the style of Tieck. I already noted the fifth act of Isle of Bliss, where Father Time triumphs over Astolf who, having failed in his duties to his country and his former fiancée through no fault of his own - he thought he had absented 3 months, and it was three hundred years, she was dead and so was monarchy - tries to return to his fairy bride in his fairy land exile. She on her hand, dying from grief, is returned to Heaven as a Goddess, now obeying her mother Nyx - who had predicted the grief. Her maidservants get on to Astolf's country and become the Muses in the mortal lands. It is interesting that Atterbom must have known that "Queen of the Night" is the misguided person / personification to be overthrown in The Magic Flute and yet in his own drama Nyx is finally right. How so, "he must have known"? His given names were Per Daniel, but he added Amadeus out of admiration for Mozart, just as did Ernst Theodor Hoffmann.
Somehow I have a feeling that John Ronald Reuel Tolkien must have read Atterbom's Isle of Bliss, he certainly knew the tale from Andrew Lang's collection, anyway. Which is also where probably Atterbom got it and Bird Blue from. He also wrote two sets - quite symbolic - on the Flowers.
Nicander is less subtle and symbolic. His dramas are set in the then contemporary Grece under the Turks or in Sweden back during St Ansgar's Mission. Or - alas - in the prison where the last Hohenstauffer Prince Enzio cursed or lamented the victory of the Popes (yes, Nicander was a Protestant, and he saw the Stauffers as "Proto-Protestants" insofar as political enemies of Papacy).
Either way, reading Atterbom and still liking him, or reading Nicander, admiring him much then, but regretting it later, partly, I took in lots of early to mid 19th C. spelling - as is also the case when I had the Swedish Latin dictionary by Cavallin, during my Latin studies in Lund.
And I guessed - rightly - that lots of Swedes (not all, and I do not write for all, but for more like a congenial audience), would find it as easy as I. Some who did not, or who pretended not to, have pretended my Swedish is incomprehensible - perhaps it is to them, but so are many of my positions. I am not a fan of P. C. Jersild, find him unreadable due to content, not language. I do not expect him and perhaps even less some of his fans to find me readable. He is also part of the ultimately rather Marxist Swedish Humanist Association.
So, that is one group where I do not count on getting my readers ... whatever the spelling I use. Unlike clothing, where I can signal a Medieval or Pre-Modern position directly by some Medieval / Renaissance clothing items, I would really and truly be not understood if I tried using the Swedish of that time, much further from today's than Chaucer's is from today's English - but going as early as can be understood, well, if it coincides with early years or decades of "modernity", that is so to speak the shift in culture I am adressing, as a disaster.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St. Raymond Nonnatus
1) "skyldiga" - earlier "skyldigha" - in Stockholm at least the former "-igha" is pronounced "-iya" despite being written "-iga". Item for "dagliga" earlier "daghligha". upp
2) Liverpudlian "oo" is right between the two pronunciations of "u", Stockholm and Helsinki. upp
3) More or less as close to Swedish as Scots is to English. I think so, at least. upp
4) Only add that in nearly all Swedish dialects -Helsinki, Stockholm, Malmö included - "w" and "v" of my respelling have the same sound, i e "v". A few at least in 19th C. still distinguished them. "W" was written either "v" or "hv" (corresponding to English "w/wh": "white"="hvit"), "v" either "f" (after a vowel or l or r) or "fv" (between vowel/l/r and vowel). Modern spelling level all to written "v" ("hvar var kalfven?" becoming "var var kalven") but does nothing like it for the other homophone allographs.upp
5) "Pater Hieronymus" being far closer to Ravaillac than to Ravaillac's confessors.
6) It was the model for Napoleon's 18th of Brumaire, by the way.
7) Modern spelling for "lof" is "lov": it means "praise", but also permission ("du har intet lof att spela kort om penningar"="you are not allowed to play cards about money") and even "vacation" as in "sommarlof"="summer holidays".