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Language contact between Old Norse and Old English.


Marc Wieneke

on 15 June 2013

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Transcript of Language contact between Old Norse and Old English.

What is Language Contact?
Language contact is the use of more than one
language in the same place at the same time.
What is Old Norse?
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age.
-A short historical overview-
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the first Viking raids began in this year. At the beginning, the Vikings mainly attacked towns and monasteries near the coast and plundered many valuables. Later they started to settle down in Britain.
The sacking of Lindisfarne.
A large Danish army plundered East Anglian and also captured York.
The East Anglian king, Edmund the Martyr, tried to stop the invaders: Nevertheless he got captured and tortured by the Northmen and died a martyr's death.
The Vikings attacked the most powerful kingdom of England, Wessex. The West-Saxon king, Alfred the Great, defeated the Vikings who made peace with Alfred and withdrew to London.
After some of the peace treaties had been broken by the Danes, Alfred won an important battle at Edington. A major result of this vitory was the christening of the Danish leader Guthrum.
The Danes tried to invade Wessex again but failed. King Alfred's kingdom expanded, and around 890 a new treaty was sealed between Alfred and Guthrum. It confirmed the separation of the northern and north-eastern part of England as an area under Danish control.
King Athelstan and his brother Edmund defeated an army of Danes and Scots at the 'Battle of Brunanburh'. There is also an Old English poem, which is dedicated to this victory, it has the same title as the battle.
The Vikings raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the late eighth to the early eleventh century. These Norsemen used their famed longships to travel as far east as Constantinople and the Volga River in Russia, and as far west as Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. This period of Viking expansion is known as the Viking Age, and forms a major part of the medieval history of Scandinavia, Britain, Ireland and the rest of Europe in general.
The Viking Expansion
Attributes of the language contact situation
stable contact situation
intense contact situation
influence on a great number of people.
The Earliest Borrowing:
cnearr (small warship), dreng (warrior), hofding (chief), orrest (battle).
The first Scandinavian words, which appeared in Old English came from the field of warfare.
Borrowing during the Danelaw:
Due to the Danelaw many Scandinavian words were borrowed from the field of law. The word 'law' itself is of Scandinavian origin.
māl (action at law), hold (freeholder), wapentake (an adminstrative district)
Borrowing through everyday life:
The society of the Vikings was very much like that of the English. Old Norse and English were, considered at their core, more or less the same langauge. Due to these facts a great borrowing from the field of everyday life took place.
band, bank, birth, boon, booth, brink, bull, crook, dirt, down (feathers), egg, fellow, freckle, gap, guess, hap, kid, leg, link, loan, race, reindeer, reef, root, scab, scales, score, sister, skill, skin, skirt, sky, slaghter, snare, steak, swain, trust, want, window
awkward, flat, ill, loose, low, odd, rotten, rugged, seemly, sly, tight, weak
to bait, bask, call, cast, clip, crawl, die, gasp, get, give, glitter, lift, raise, scare, scout, take, thrie, thrust
the –s of the third person singular has been attributed to the Scandinavian influence, as well as the ending
–t in words like 'scant' and 'want', which was originally the Norse neuter ending. The inflectional endings were often the only difference and obstacle to the mutual understanding of Norse and English words, and the loss of the inflections in Old English was accelerated by the Scandinavian presence.
personal pronouns: they, them, their
verb: to be
definite article: the
prepositions: to, of ,for, until
The Vikings achieved victory against the English at the 'Battle of Maldon'. From this time on the English had to pay the Vikings in order to prevent further attacks. Nevertheless, the Vikings continued their raids in order to gain more money.
During these years Scandinavians ruled as English kings, such as Cnut (1016-1035), Harold (1035-1040) and Harthacnut (1040-1042).
Vikings travelled with their longboats...
...all over the world
Settlement of the Scandinavians in England
Influence on the closed system (syntax)
Influence on the open system (lexicon)
How Old Norse found its way to Britain
Language Contact
Old Norse vs. Old English
Relation between Old Norse and Old English
An example of Old Norse pronunciation
Full transcript