Today, English words find their way into the Norwegian language as never before. It is practically impossible to read a newspaper without discovering an English loanword. One way of preserving the Norwegian language is to create substitute words (avløserord). Ordsmia (the Wordsmithy) is an e-mail discussion forum functioning as a workshop where members can propose and discuss substitute words. The forum was established by the Norwegian Language Council (NLC) in March 2000, as finding good Norwegian substitute words for English direct loanwords has been one of the NLC’s priorities in the past few years. Anyone interested in language may become a member.
The aim of this thesis is to answer the following questions: Do the suggestions and arguments for and/or against substitute words presented in Ordsmia agree with the principles language researchers have found to be important for a substitute word’s success? Further, what could be the reason why the Norwegian words suggested in Ordsmia often cannot compete with the English words? I have also paid attention to which types of words are brought up in Ordsmia and an appendix with a list of all the words taken up in Ordsmia is included.
In order to answer the questions asked above, I have studied all the nearly 6100 messages sent to Ordsmia. I have studied the discussion of substitute words in light of the six principles for good substitute words suggested by language researchers Stig Johansson and Anne-Line Graedler: The principles of meaning, connotation, form, identity, network, and flexibility. In addition to these six principles, I have paid attention to the awareness, or lack thereof, of words and language in use. All observations are substantiated and illustrated with examples from Ordsmia.
The results of this study indicate that even though there are many good discussions and suggestions in Ordsmia, the wordsmiths’ suggestions and arguments for and/or against substitute words do not always agree with the principles researchers have found to be important for a substitute word’s success. It is likely that this is a reason why many substitute words suggested in Ordsmia cannot compete with the loanwords. If Ordsmia is to influence our language, the wordsmiths need to familiarise themselves with the principles for good substitute words and pay more attention to language use before any suggestions are made.