Scandinavian Voices are still reflected in our language ... the lecture at the British Museum yesterday was fascinating ... hard work too! an accompaniment to the Viking Exhibition.
|Guests from Overseas: Nicholas Roerich (1899)|
Jayne Carroll is a professor and specialist in Name Studies at the University of Nottingham ... so she was highly qualified to take us, 300 members, through our paces.
Thankfully in her introduction she gave us an example whereby an inscription around the edge of the Sundial at Aldbrough, East Yorkshire (located in the Church) combined Old English (Anglo-Saxon 5th C) in the description, but the names were of Old Norse origin ...
... here we have the ‘catch-all’ label ... when the linguistic words are ‘easily’ absorbed ... so Scandinavian names were culturally used during the English Viking period: 800 – 1050 AD approximately ...
|Aldbrough Sundial c/o ling.upenn.ed|
The text on the sundial reads: “+Ulf had this church built for his own sake and for Gunnvor’s soul” ...
... the text used is given by Professor Ray Page (1924 – 2012), who was a prominent British scholar of ancient Anglo-Saxon and Viking monuments ...
The description Professor Page gave ... refers to words and phrases such as dative singular of the 3rd person pronoun, genitive, pronominal system influenced but not superseded by the Old Norse one ...
... at this point I mentally declared myself beyond knowledge! Jayne also mentioned that on reading through her notes on Sunday with her husband and daughter, aged 7, ... her husband gave up at this point too! Her daughter was enthusiastically agreeing ... gosh to have brains that young!!
Pronouns were affected by the Old Norse language ... the “Þ” from the runic script was absorbed into our English language ... becoming the plural form “th” absorbed into the word ... acting like our “apostrophe S” today ...
From Old Norse we get some fundamental building blocks of our language ... for example:
Law Old English ‘Lagu’, from Old Norse ‘Lag’ meaning something laid down or fixed, of Germanic origin
Window is of Middle English origin: from Old Norse ‘vindauga’, from vindr ‘wind’ + auga ‘eye’ ...originally an unglazed hole in the roof
We now have many words in our language that have derived from Old Norse ... there were many more in Medieval times, but they were more dialect-orientated and were over time subsumed ... but would occur around settlement patterns one thousand years ago ...
|Karlevi Runestone - oldest record of|
a stanza of skaldic verse,
on Oland Island, Sweden
Jayne mentioned ‘lyk’ – as her Lancastrian father-in-law uses it, meaning ‘to play’ ... in trying to check it out I came across this website (see below) where Hazel Gardner sets out Old Lancashire Dialect Words and their origins ... which may be of interest.
Contemporary evidence of the Viking Age in Britain today ... appears in;
· Skaldic (court) verses (technically demanding)
· Runic inscriptions ... on stones and on portable objects
· Norse town and village place names ...
eg Fishguard ... Scandinavian ‘gard’ is enclosure in Welsh Celtic ...
- ‘by’ – farmstead, homestead usually accompanied by name of owner ... eg: "Tealby"
- Market Rasen, Lincs – ‘rasen’ at the planks – a plank walkway or footbridge across a dyke (ditch/wet area)
- Withenshaw – valley of the wood
· Significant Old Norse plays on in our language ... the following words reflect this:
- Toft = plot
- Thorp = dependent settlement
- Tynwald = assembly fields (Isle of Man legislature)
· The names of Nordic gods reflect in our language to this day ... particularly Thor ... in various formats...
|The mushroomy coloured|
'Daneland' is Viking territory
A heavier footprint of Old Norse prevails in the English language, a lesser one in the Celtic languages ... which makes sense as the Vikings really settled a northern diagonal swathe of England ...
What is apparent ... is that we need to research back to the original derivation of a word – in Roman, Anglo-Saxon – good examples of these are rivers ... the River Trent is a classic:
|showing some of the flood levels on the|
River Trent at Girton from 1795
In Roman times (115 – 117AD) it was known as 'Trisantona' ...
... by 731AD it was 'Treente'
Now interestingly the Old British word ‘Trisantona’ is the word for ‘trespasser’ ... which could easily refer to the regular flooding of the river, as we still find out in the 21st century ...
I looked up the River Trent and found the Trent Aegir (Eagre) ... which is a tidal bore ... it is said to take its name from the Norse god of the Ocean: Aegir.
|Germanic root languages|
in Europe (see Wiki)
It is alleged that King Cnut performed his purposefully unsuccessful attempt to turn back the tide in the River Trent ... i.e. turn back the Aegir tide.
I will do another post on the Exhibition itself ... and I have already mentioned the Vikings in various posts ... but to finish as the article in the British Museum Winter Magazine mentions:
|The four kingdoms ruled by King Cnut|
“Despite a justified reputation for violence, the Vikings by the standards of their time were unparalleled in Europe for the range of their cultural contacts, and these enabled them to assimilate a wide range of external influences.
At the same time, they left lasting reminders of their presence in the places that they visited and settled, both in the form of objects, in language, place-names and even DNA.
The Viking Age may be long over, but its legacy remains strong.”
|Church of St Mary's at Thoresway|
(a way of a Viking called Thor)
Our cultural history reflects the many invasions we have as an island nation absorbed ... and our ‘borrowing language’ readily reflect these ...
Today we have English as the leading language of international discourse and the lingua franca in many regions ... which includes that Viking influence from 1200 years ago ...
Professor Jayne Carroll recommended these websites:
and search for Visit for Place Names ... brings up a choice ...
Aldbrough Sundial (North Yorkshire)
Hazel Gardner - Old Lancashire Dialect Words
At the British Museum website are various books on the Vikings, their language, the chronicles ... should you wish to look.
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