Rhetorical Analysis of an Internet Debate on the Status of New Norwegian in Norway


Friday 8 November, 13.30-14.00, E0105

On 5 March 2012 the manager of the Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority wrote an article in the largest Norwegian newspaper, VG, where he went far in claiming that New Norwegian (NN) users were the only group of people that Norwegians reckoned to have a legitimate right to discriminate. He addressed the leadership of Oslo, challenging them to show that the Norwegian capital of Oslo was a city also for NN-users. The article caused a huge debate on the internet, and most of the contributions opposed Hamar strongly, like this (in my translation): 
“New Norwegian is the biggest nonsense I have met in my life. Why have no-one suggested optional characters for NN in school? I want an opportunity to remove my NN character from my leaving certificate. I would rather have the picture of a cow than a NN mark.” 

I have downloaded about 100 of the contributions to the debate and is at the moment working on a rhetorical analysis, concentrating on the opposition to Hamar. 
The main goals for the analysis will be: to clarify and systemize main arguments used in an internet debate about the value of written NN in state administration of Norway, and make comparisons with main arguments known from public language debates in Norway in general and known debates in other countries with minority languages, especially Swedish in Finland and Catalonian in Spain. 

Method: The starting point of the analysis will be traditional logos-, pathos- and ethos classification and methods for rhetorical analysis based on e.g. Flyum (2004). The basic tool for the analysis is among other used by the Finnish researcher Annette Kronholm-Cederberg in her doctoral thesis from 2009. She refers to among others Polkinghorne (1959), with theories on “analysis of narratives and narrative analysis”. From this starting point my analysis will be parted in three: 
1 To produce concentrated narratives from the present texts 
2 To deconstruct the narratives to find main elements in the discourse 
3 To construct a typology of arguments for the internet debate and relate it to languages debates, both national and international 

Parts of the material have briefly been used earlier, in connection with my chairing a debate on language discrimination on the National Language Day in Oslo 2012. 

- Flyum, Karl Henrik (2004): Mellom datapresisjon og tolkningspretensjon: et essay om metode: tolkningsperspektiver for lingvistiske data. Oslo: Universitetet i Oslo / The University of Oslo 
- Kronholm-Cederberg, Annette (2009): Skolans responskultur som skriftpraktik. Åbo: Åbo Akademy University press 
- Nymark, Johannes og Theil, Rolf (2011): Dei ukuelege språka : Språkpolitikk og språksituasjonar. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget 
- Polkinghorne, D. E. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis. In J. A. Hatch, & R. Wisniewski (Red.), Life history and narrative (s. 5–23). London: The Falmer Press. 

Information about the author: 
Jan Olav Fretland, Associate Professor Sogn og Fjordane University College. 
Former leader of the Language Council of Norway and of ‘Noregs Mållag’, the National organization for support of New Norwegian.