Principia Orthographica

Niels Davidsen-Nielsen, Michael Herslund

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The view presented in the paper is that ’descriptive’ – understood as what is given a systematic account of – and ’normative’ are not contra-dictory notions and that orthographic standardization should be based on the insights provided by a descriptive approach. In this way a norm can be established which should be followed by the public authorities and sets the standard for the media and teaching in schools. By means of examples illustrating the tasks performed by orthography (phonetic, morphological, lexical etc.) we argue in favour of various forms of standardization, among these with respect to so-called double forms (e.g. camouflage/kamuflage).
    As we see it, the existence of a standardized orthography constitutes a clear advantage, and we share the opinion once proposed that the purpose of an orthography is to curtail free initiative within the area of spelling so that irrelevant and disruptive information about the writer is excluded.
    In accounting for the functions that Danish orthography performs we use the terms phonogrammatical, morphogrammatical, logogrammatical and etymological. The second of these, according to which the identity of morphemes is preserved in inflected and derived forms, is a principle whose importance should not be underestimated.
    In order to obtain a relatively narrow norm we propose that the number of double forms be kept down. We therefore disagree with the view that orthographic changes should always be introduced in the shape of double forms.
    Original languageDanish
    JournalNyS : Nydanske Sprogstudier
    Issue number44
    Pages (from-to)10-30
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Danish language

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