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Elfdalian (Övkallmål / Övdalsk)

Elfdalian or Övdalian is a North Germanic language spoken by about 3,000 people in the Älvdalen Municipality in Northern Dalarna in central Sweden. Elfdalian is considered to be a separate language by some linguists, but many others believe it to be a dialect of Swedish. It has developed in relative isolation since the Middle Ages and maintains a number of features of Old Norse not found in other Northern Germanic languages, not even Icelandic. As a result, Elfdalian differs markedly from Swedish and can be difficult for other Swedes to understand.

A runic alphabet known as Dalecarlian Runes was used to write Elfdalian until the early 20th century, but a way to write it using the Latin alphabet was also used from the 17th century. A new standard orthography for Elfdalian was devised in 2005 by Råðdjärum (The Elfdalian Language Council), and accepted by Ulum Dalska (The Organization for the Preservation of Elfdalian).

Up to the 1950s Elfdalian was used as the medium of instruction in schools in the Elfdalian-speaking region. Since then Swedish has been used, however since the 1980s some Elfdalian has been reintroduced in schools and there has been a revival of interest in and use of the language.

Elfdalian alphabet (Övdalsk alfabet)

A a Ą ą B b C c D d Đ ð E e Ę ę F f G g H h I i
a ą bi si di e ę eff gi i
Į į J j K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q R r S s T t
į ji ell emm enn o pi ku err ess ti
U u Ų ų V v W w X x Y y Y̨ y̨ Z z Å å Ą̊ ą̊ Ä ä Ö ö
u ų vi wi eks y setå å ą̊ ä ö

C, Q, X and Z only occur in names and foreign words.

Elfdalian pronunciation

Elfdalian alphabet and pronunciation

Information about Elfdalian pronunciation provided by Wolfram Siegel, with corrections by Yair Sapir

Sample text

Ig [h]ar [h]ärt glamas um mikid a landi
Sa ir miog dält jär a Dalöfwes strandi
[H]ur jär ir fräkt nad fok
Fläd äd giäf god nag miok
Kullur der omali lat snogt i straiten
Gosser min skäidum tag brindum a kauten


I have heard in the countryside told many a thing;
which is very pleasant here on the bank of the Dala River;
how kind people are here;
the cattle gives such good milk;
girls play so nicely the horn;
boys catch elks on the run with their skis.


Information about Dalecarlian runes


Information about the Elfdalian language

Germanic languages

Afrikaans, Alsatian, Bavarian, Cimbrian, Danish, Dutch, Elfdalian, English, Faroese, Flemish, German, Gothic, Icelandic, Low German / Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, Norn, North Frisian, Norwegian, Old English, Old Norse, Pennsylvania German, Saterland Frisian, Scots, Shetland(ic), Swedish, Swiss German, West Frisian, Yiddish

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet