Multilectal Literacy in Education

Project owner

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Project categories

Basic Research

Project period

October 2020 - September 2024

Project summary

Is it beneficial for a child’s academic development to be multilectally literate, i.e. have the capacity to write (and read) in different closely related linguistic codes? Some recent Norwegian studies of achievement results have found that pupils using the Nynorsk written standard of Norwegian outperform pupils using the Bokmål written standard of Norwegian, and a plausible difference between the two groups is that the Nynorsk pupils, due to heavy extra-mural exposure, acquire competence in both varieties simultaneously whereas Bokmål pupils do not.

The possible basis for this will be explored in the MultiLit project, where investigations into the Norwegian language situation, and Nynorsk in particular, will be compared to the situation for Frisian. For Norwegian we hypothesize three main literacy profiles among adolescents: (i) a monolectal group (using only the Bokmål standard), (ii) a bilectal group (using the Bokmål standard and written dialect), (iii) a trilectal group (using Bokmål, Nynorsk, and written dialect). What kind of differences can be discerned across these groups in terms of language stimulation, language processing and production, cognitive behavior, and scholastic performance. Notice in particular that the self-driven use of dialect in computer-mediated communication will be highlighted in the project.

Comparisons with Frisian are particularly interesting since Frisian, like Nynorsk, is a lesser used language which is structurally proximate to a majority language, i.e. to Dutch. But although an official language in the province Fryslân, Frisian is far less institutionalized and supported than Nynorsk. To what extent effects similar to the ones observed in Norway emerges in the Frisian context may inform us of what literacy in a lesser used language variety may contribute. The issue may further be addressed and have impact in a number of other contexts internationally.

The project consists of the following four work packages which run in parallel (WP leader in parentheses):

WP1 Language separation in multilectal and monolectal adolescents (Björn Lundquist, UiT/UiO)
WP2 Written norms among multilectal and monolectal adolescents (Unn Røyneland, UiO)
WP3 Early standard language stimulation in multilectal and monolectal contexts (Eli Bjørhusdal, HVL)
WP4 Developmental effects in multilectal and monolectal adolescents (Göran Söderlund, HVL)