Norwegian Language question

+2 votes
In doing research on several ancestral farms in Nord Trondelag, I find the spellings of certain farms contain different endings.  These seem to be mostly farms on the coast or on islands. Is there some kind of meaning to these  "endings" when spelled one way or the other?  Example:  My grandfather's farm in Vikna is variously referred to as Buo, Buoen and Buoya.  Does the ending have any particular meaning?    Others nearby end with oy without adding the A  (-oy vs -oya) like Binneroy, and others add the A as in Hellesoya.  I'm just curious as it doesn't seem to be just phonetic spelling variations.
in WikiTree Help by Robyn Adair G2G6 (9.2k points)
It may be due to grammar. The Wikipedia article on the language gives a moderate discussion of Norwegian grammar.
Yes, Norwegian - Danish - Swedish puts an ending to indicate the definite form, instead of using "the" (whatever the proper term is).

2 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer

The Norwegian word "øy" means island. The older (Danish) spelling is simply "ø". In Scandinavian languages the determinate form of a name is produced by adding a determinate particle at the end. Thus, "øya" means the island, or in old spelling "øen".

There's no rule telling if a place name should be indeterminate or determinate, but there seems to be a pattern that smaller islands/places are often determinate (-øya) while larger islands/places are indeterminate (-øy). Besides, a lot of Norwegian place names have fossilised Danish spellings, like Bodø or Tromsø, both actually located on islands.

by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Pilot (140k points)
selected by Robyn Adair
Thanks for that clarification.  Many of the farms off Vikna have this peculiarity and I was pretty sure it had "something" to do with islands or island-related.  In that regard concerning the smaller islands (like Buøya) is the farm itself (land) the same as the island or simply located on the island.  ie: is farm use or ownership considered to be for the entire island or a specific portion of it?
Takk, Leif. Yes Tranøya is small, and there is a larger area Tranøy Kommune as well.  The definite here ends in “a” because island is feminine gender which now is mostly colloquial.
Robyn, I can't say without looking it up. It depends on many things: the size of the island, whether other islands or the mainland are close by, and so on. Farms have been split and merged, and cotter's places have been promoted to independent farms. But you can be realively certain that the farm with the same name as the island is the largest and the oldest one.
Kristine, the feminine -a ending may have been considered "colloquial" by some a hundred years ago, but certainly not today. Some dialects and sociolects avoid it, but it's definitely mainstream in contemporary Norwegian language.

I tried using Google maps and zooming in, but it just gave two places with a similar name. Is there any kind of map online which shows current Norwegian farm locations and roads/bridges to get there?  I can't imagine my ancestors rowing to a mainland church every Sunday - bet that was a chore missed every now and then. wink

It looks very desolate, not a single house nearby. I don't think that there's anything like a "farm" here today, but it looks a little greenish in the northeastern part of the island, and perhaps you could grow some potatoes and cabbages there back in the day. I suppose that they fished a lot, and were quite used to rowing.
You are right - Fisker.  Several entries of death for various ancestors are "died at sea, body not recovered."  It appears to have been a very dangerous line of work.
My relatives are (and were) considerably above the Arctic Circle, and according to their stories, this work could be dangerous and hard. On Senja, there is a fishing, specifically halibut (kveite) museum which documents this aspect of island life.
What an absolutely cool map!!!  I have bookmarked it so I can cruise around and see "other stuff."  I guess I can't be sure where exactly my grandfather's farm was.  He was only 8 (and the baby of 7) when he immigrated to Wisconsin.  What an interesting part of the world to be from.  If you drop straight down a bit....way into the water. On the map, from the island Buoya, past Bondoya, there is a group of islands I just found called Sor and Nord-Gjeslingen.  His mother was from that farm and her father is one of those "lost at sea."  Looks like a wonderful, but obviously dangerous to navigate, fishing area. I would love to visit one day.....****sigh**** my dreams.....

Thanks to everybody for taking an interest in this!!
+1 vote
I would defer to fluent Norwegian speakers, but øya often means island, for example, Tranøya, a smaller island off Senja in Northern Norway (my family is from that area). I will see if I can find out more.
by Kristine Thurston G2G3 (3.0k points)

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