The Old Norse dialect areas

The approximate extent of Old Norse in the 10th century, divided in the three main dialects Old West Norse, Old East Norse, and Old Gutnish.
The purple field tries to show the area where both western and eastern features occur.

Old Norse is usually divided into three dialect groups: Old West Norse, Old East Norse and Old Gutnish.

It's important to note that there isn't any sharp line. Characteristics of both East and West Norse overlap each other, and within the purple area there can sometimes be big variation. Traditionally, Norwegian is told to belong to the West Norse languages, and Swedish to the East Norse, but this is an oversimplification in my opinion. For example Old East Norwegian shows several important East Norse traits (such as lack of u-umlaut, and the East Norse þenn, þet and þer - West Norse þann, þat, þar), and West Norse words such as sopp (EN svamp) 'mushroom' are found deep within Western Sweden.

The most important differences between Old West Norse and Old East Norse are:

Old Gutnish distinguishes itself by features such as:

© September 2009 by Aszev