THE LANGUAGES OF BEFOREIGNERS
ABOUT US AND THE BLOG
Hi, and thanks for visiting our Beforeigners blog!
Who we are
"We" refer to linguists Alexander Lykke, André Nilsson Dannevig, and Julian Kirkeby Lysvik, who work on the Norwegian HBO Max show Beforeigners. In addition to what we do on Beforeigners, we work with linguistics in both academia and technology, and we really hope that we might inspire others to take an interest in language as well.
What this blog is
Beforeigners is a Norwegian sci-fi drama set in Oslo, Norway, in the near future, where immigrants from the past, called Beforeigners, have showed up in the ocean. This has also been happening all across the globe. We explore this world through the eyes of Oslo police inspectors Lars Haaland and Viking Beforeigner Alfhildr Enginnsdottir. Together, they solve Beforeigners-related crimes and try to figure out how to live in this new world where nothing is as simple as it seems.
The Beforeigners have timeigrated from three different time periods; the Stone Age, the Viking Age, and the 19th century, and that's where we come in. In order to make the show as authentic and believable as possible, the producers of Beforeigners gave us the job of translating every line of dialogue that the Beforeigners have to their respective languages. We also coached the actors on the pronunciation, mostly off set.
The Beforeigners from the 19th century are from the upper class and speak what is known as the Riksmålsvariant, which is not all that different from one of today's Oslo dialects, albeit somewhat more influenced by Danish. The Viking Beforeigners are from the 11th century, and as such speak Old Norse. The Stone Age Beforeigners are from around 8,500 BC, which is thousands of years before any language that we know much about. This means that the Stone Age language, or Mesolithic, had to be created from the ground up. In addition, 11th century Old Sami was reconstructed by Rolf Theil, emeritus professor of linguistics. Season 2 of Beforeigners also introduced 19th century Yiddish, which was translated by Olve Utne from the Norwegian Institute of Local History, and 19th century Received Pronunciation.
Of course, no linguistic reality would be complete with only mother tongues! We also created unique accents, grammars, and words for different versions of Norwegian as a second language, each version tailored to the different mother tongues. This way, you can identify any Beforeigner on the way they speak, no matter if it's in their first, second, or third language.
If you want to read more about our work on the languages of Beforeigners, you can check out this article on Sciencenorway.no.
Even though we work on Beforeigners through our employment in Rubicon, we are not paid by either HBO Max or Rubicon to post anything on this page. The same applies to everything we write in our emails from firstname.lastname@example.org. All opinions are our own.