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NORMS is a Nordic Center of Excellence, which is directed from CASTL in Tromsø by Peter Svenonius and Øystein Alexander Vangsnes, involving the Universities of Tromsø, Iceland (in Reykjavík), Lund, Helsinki, Aarhus, Oslo, and Trondheim (NTNU) and financed jointly by those seven universities and NOS-HS (Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and the Social Sciences). It is a five-year investigation into microcomparative variation in the syntax of the Scandinavian languages and works closely with the Scandinavian Dialect Syntax Project ScanDiaSyn and with the European partners of that network.


The NORMS project is coming to an end

The official project period for NORMS ends on 31 December 2010. As witnessed by the events page, the project has facilitated a long list of activities related to the investigation of Nordic Dialect Syntax in the period 2005-2010. Some of this activity will be prolonged within other projects under the ScanDiaSyn umbrella and also within the N'CLAV network.

Upcoming events:

There are no more events organized by the project. Activity is continued in the ScanDiaSyn and N'CLAV networks, and information about the Nordic Dialect Corpus and the Nordic Syntax Database can be obtained from this page at the Text Laboratory at the University of Oslo.
Previous events:See the Events page.


NORMS (Nordic Centre of Excellence in Microcomparative Syntax) is a five-year project to map, document, and analyze the complex patchwork of dialectal variation throughout the Scandinavian language continuum, from Iceland in the west to the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland in the east, and from the Norwegian settlements on Svalbard in the north to Denmark’s German border in the south. Unlike previous studies of Scandinavian dialects, this one focuses on grammar rather than words and pronunciation.

For example, Northern Norwegians will ask a new acquaintance, Ka du hete? (approximately, ‘What your name is?’) rather than using the ‘inverted’ order Hva heter du? (analogous to ‘What is your name?’) which is typical of questions in the rest of Scandinavia. Every dialect has its own peculiarities, and Scandinavia possesses a multitude of dialects throughout its great expanse. Microcomparative refers to the small degrees of variation between one dialect and the next, as opposed to the greater differences among different languages. Syntax is the system of grammar.

To achieve its aims, NORMS assembles a ‘dream team’ of the region’s most successful scholars in syntactic theory; at least one institution in each Scandinavian nation is included, and through the networks that each of these institutions already has in place, virtually all of the scholars of syntax and of dialects in Scandinavia will be involved in this project in one way or another.

Although linguistic theory has made great strides in understanding natural language syntax, and although Scandinavian linguists have gained a high degree of respect in this area, very little theoretical work has been done specifically on dialect syntax. Not only does NORMS propose to make major inroads into this underexplored terrain, it proposes to do so at a crucial moment in time: some of the most conservative and distinct dialects in Scandinavia are falling prey to a general regional levelling—perhaps because of television, or greater education, or increased mobility, the dialectal differences are diminishing. If they are not documented now, before they disappear forever, then we will have lost a wealth of information about the limits of dialectal variation.

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