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Elfdalian (Övdalsk / Övdalską)

Elfdalian or Övdalian is a North Germanic language spoken by about 2,500 people in the Älvdalen Municipality (Övdaln) 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, and it is not recognised as a minority language in Sweden.

Elfdalian 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 1900. The Latin alphabet was also used to write Elfaldian from the 17th century.

Dalecarlian Runes

Dalecarlian runes

More information about Dalecarlian Runes

Until the 1950s some people in the Elfdalian-speaking region spoke nothing but Elfdalian until they went to school. At school children were discouraged or prohibited from speaking Elfdalian until the 1970s.

Since the 1980s efforts have made to preserve and promote the language, particularly by Ulum Dalska (The Organization for the Preservation of Elfdalian). Dictionaries and other books have been published, a standard orthography for Elfdalian was devised in 2005 by Råðdjärum (The Elfdalian Language Council), and an Elfdalian-medium kindergarten is due to open in 2016.

Elfdalian alphabet (Övdalsk-abiseð)

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 texts

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.


Undą̊ för undą̊ fuor ig föstå ur launggsamt du add eð, Lisslprinsn menn. Laindj i seð add it du noð eller uonå dig ą̊ eld kuogå ą̊ grannsuolniðgaunggą. Eð föstuoð ig um morgun fiuord da'n, mes du lit að mig: Ig tyttjer so mitjið um suolnið­gaunggą

From the Lisslprinsn (The Little Prince)


Oh, little prince! Bit by bit I came to understand the secrets of your sad little life. For a long time you had found your only entertainment in the quiet pleasure of looking at the sunset. I learned that new detail on the morning of the fourth day, when you said to me: I am very fond of sunsets.

From The Little Prince

Sample of spoken Elfaldian

Information about Elfdalian | Phrases in Elfdalian


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