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to words and phrases such as dative singular of the 3rd person pronoun, genitive, pronominal system influenced but not superseded by the Old Norse one ...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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Seeing this post made me wish I had become an archaeologist lol. That sundial is fascinating and the Karlevi Runestone is amazing!! Wow.
Wow, this is interesting. I remember studying some of this in school way back when, but I didn't find it nearly as interesting as I do now. Funny how that is, isn't it? Perhaps as adults is when our learning really hits the right stride. Thanks for all the wonderful info. Have a great week!
This must have been a really fascinating lecture. Are you a member of the BM?
Fantastic. I’d love to have been there with you and seen the exhibition.
This is so fascinating, I loved the word PLANK, such a simple word, and the same in Swedish. I guess they also taught you that the names of most of the days of the week originated from Old Norse with Thursday being the easiest to relate to Thor. You read my post about the Swedish vikings at the time, I think of them being in Ukraine, founding Kiev, now that I see all the troubles there on TV. Here's a link if you would like to read it again, now that you're into Viking history:
Yup, that grammar sentence left me way behind too. The English language has absorbed so many other influences over the centuries. Can you imagine having the patience to carve out that large rune stone?
This actually makes me think of the first chapter of Ivanhoe when the jester and the swineherd are discussing that an animal is known by it's Saxon name whilst it's alive but changes to a Norman name when it is on the table.
Great post! I do love things about linguistics. It sounds like that lecture was a lot of fun (well, I think it's fun). I knew about thorn being the old symbol for th, but I never knew it used to be like apostrophe s.
Terrific post! Not only do I enjoy linguistics, but also my wife is of Swedish and English decent, and we have not been to Scandinavia. We might just book a trip. Of course, we already love the UK. Cheers.
Oh, I'm so jealous you got to go see the exhibit! I follow the British Museum on Twitter, and they have been having a lot of fun with their Vikings Live events. :)
Also a big fan of the Vikings show on History Channel. It's important to remember the Vikings' history was written by their enemies, so there's a lot of mixed information on them. Brutal, yes, but also farmers and explorers looking for a better life.
I love that painting- the swell of the water is so realistic feeling! And the Thor church *grin*, I have a thing for old buildings!
I am also jealous as LG says. And those genes especially the ginger hair (red hair). To be able to have access to such a treasure trove, the British Museum is a shared blessing.
What a fascinating lecture that must have been. I love the way the English language has developed from so many influences. Well, Australia's only invasion was from the British, so I wonder why our languages are so different, lol!
Great post, Hilary.
@ Keith - so many disciplines to chose from - and all so interesting .. the Sundial is incredible isn't it .. while the Runestones .. are so beautiful ..
@ Karen - I think our interests and perceptions change as we acquire knowledge as we grow older .. I know that I've taught myself more in recent years than I seem to have learnt in the previous decades!
@ Friko - Yes I am a member of the BM and this was a lecture I wanted to attend. It would have been a pleasure to have you along ..
The exhibition is very interesting and I'll be going up again before it closes ...
@ Inger - good to see you .. and that word 'plank' .. fascinating that it was absorbed so easily into English ..
She didn't cover the simple things - this was quite a technical lecture .. pronouns etc .. and the influences the Vikings left us .. the skaldic poems and place names ...
Thanks for the link - your Q post was a great Questing view point .. and they were great travellers .. up and across the Atlantic, then over land via the rivers too .. reaching Byzantium ..
They were in Ukraine as well as Russia; the Dnieper is a huge river in that part of the world flowing out to the Black Sea ...
The Ukraine situation is a difficult one .. and I do hope it quietens down and can be resolved peacefully ...
@ Jo - English was never a strong point .. and as you say our language is a borrowing language (new phrase I learnt!) ..
I simply, like you I guess, imagine carving any stone! Let alone writing some verse on one ..
I didn't know that note about Ivanhoe .. but I found this link: http://www.forgottenbooks.org/readbook_text/English_Roots_and_the_Derivation_of_Words_from_the_Ancient_1000336886/29 which makes interesting reading.
I guess if I ever do a post on Saxon English and Norman English then I could include it! It was a very interesting read .. thanks for telling us about this ..
@ Jeanne - it was fun .. but fairly technical ... there were other 'apostrophe' type inserts into words .. eg: 'er', 'en','l' representing the female version, and as the Professor said .. it is not always easy to ascertain the exact meaning .. Don't take my article as exact .. this was a challenging part of the lecture.
@ JJ - I'll try and get the Viking post/s up shortly and I certainly hope the two of you get over to Scandinavia sometime soon - makes sense for your wife ..
.. and you could have a quick drop down in London town!
@ LG - ah! well that's interesting to know about the following on Twitter - I hadn't thought of Twitter in that light ..
I saw the film on the Vikings that was relayed to a Multiplex here on the south coast .. and they were certainly having fun ..
They seem to re-evaluating the Vikings in the light of recent finds - yes obviously they needed to conquer .. but they settled too and 'lived happily ever after'!
I'll be posting about the Exhibition and the Vikings in general soon ..
@ Leandra - thanks for coming over .. lovely to see you. The Roerich painting is stunning isn't it .. I've used it before .. from Wiki ..
Plenty of old buildings here! I wanted to put the Church in .. with its name as a reference ..
@ Nat - I know I'm lucky to be near enough to visit London and various exhibitions ...
I haven't come across the red hair bit for Scandinavians .. but I'm sure it's there .. we have an Irish link ..and that too could well be Viking in origin ...
I may find more when I read up a bit ..
The British Museum is incredible .. I quite agree.
@ Denise - it was a great lecture to be able to attend .. and as you say so many influences over time.
I guess the Australian language has developed and evolved as too the South African English .. as the American .. and as the way of speaking it ... each country is 'so different' ..
Cheers to you all - so pleased you enjoyed this somewhat challenging post .. Hilary
I'm always fascinated by the Viking migration and Runestones. I need to read more about this - thank you for the links.
Oh wow, I had no idea that the Vikings influenced the English language so much! What an amazing lecture, so interesting! I wonder how many people can still actually read those runes :)
Oh, how fascinating! I never learned anything about the Vikings in school so my knowledge of them has been woefully inadequate. I've loved learning about them on my own - such an interesting culture and time period in history. Would love to see this exhibit but thanks for the virtual peek into it!
I've always thought of the Vikings as being so violent and unthoughtful of those they "assimilated" that I haven't had much interest in them as a whole. It is interesting, however, to see how much they influenced not only our language, but culture as well. I had no idea! Thanks again Hillary for a lovely and entertaining trip!
300? That's a nice round number. :)
There's something so enticing about the history of the Viking area. I love learning about it.
Such an interesting post, Hilary. I'm always fascinated by the information I learn from your posts. The Karlevi Runestone is amazing.
Vikings have always fascinated me. The fifth graders study them in the beginning of their New World exploration unit. There's evidence that they were the first Europeans the US and Canada--before Columbus, which I never learned as a kid.
Thanks for expanding my knowledge!
There is so much history explained here of which I was completely unaware. I just thought the Vikings were a bunch of thugs and did not imagine the degree in which they changed our history.
I'll have to read it a few times!
Really fascinating, sounds like you had a fun day. I love reading about the history of names and places.
I knew about the Vikings, but it never made learning English any easier. Look at the word business. Where did they get the spelling from. Too many other words to mention, but part of it's me and my obsession with pronouncing weird words. Thanks for helping me understand, Hilary.
This was a fascinating read. Sometime I wonder just how well a sundial works up her in the north of England.
We have most assuredly a shared history with the Norse. Have you ever noticed that Scandinavian people often speak better English than those who supposedly speak English as a first language?
Welcome to Thor's Day.
Fantastic post. I find vikings fascinating. Nice that you have this post up this week when my viking pirate short story has been released. :)
It is interesting to learn about the roots of the languages.
The story of the Vikings is fascinating and I have reasons to believe that we may carry something of them in our genes...
One day I will visit the Scandinavian countries. I find them interesting...
The history of the English language is absolutely dizzying! I saw a meme on Facebook that said, "While some languages borrow from others, English drags other languages into an alley, beats them up, and empties their pockets!"
Has the British Museum re-opened its wing on the Arthurian time period yet? You know, the time period I desperately wanted to see last summer, but the only one that was closed for remodeling while I was there? (grrrrr.)
Another very fascinating & enjoyable post. I think you are right about young brains as it reminds me of when, as part of our literacy theme on poets and after we worked on Viking kennings, I introduced Anglo-Saxon poetry (written in Anglo-Saxon!) to my class of 7-8 year olds who worked really hard to pick out the words that we have assimilated into our language.
@ Lynn - I'll be doing a few more posts shortly .. but they are an interesting era of history .. that remain with us to this day ..
@ Beate - so pleased you were interested to read this .. the Viking/Norse influence is huge across Europe and in other ways too ..
@ Julie - there's lots to learn and they were a fascinating race and travelled so far - sorry that we can't whisk you across the water for a visit ..
@ Lisa - certainly they were brutal, but so was everyone then .. and then they settled and just became us, and we them ... and grew crops and families!
But your comment made me think about my travels when I got to South Africa and Zimbabwe and really didn't want to set off again ..so I stayed for a while ...
@ Rosey - that was only 300 members who had paid to attend the lecture ..
Looking round the exhibition was fascinating to see the differences in the hoards and to see that amazing longship ...
@ Mason - delighted you enjoy coming over - thank you .. the Runestones are extraordinary ... this one is particularly striking ..
@ Theresa - there's lots to be said for the Vikings - they did open up the world in northern Europe ...
.. and yes they did 'find' Canada in the Newfoundland area ...and I'm sure I never learnt they reached America before Columbus .. but there was no recorded writing then - as was possible in Columbus' Day in 1492 ...
@ Eddie - thanks so much ... my blog teaches me so much! But it is so interesting to learn about things .. and the Viking Exhibition has allowed me to see into their lives a little ..
@ Rosie - I had a busy day .. and am just glad you've enjoyed reading a little bit more about the history of names and places ..
@ Joylene - I couldn't agree more .. English, even for an English speaker, is not easy!
Since you ask about business - it derives from Old ENglish ... to occupy, to worry, to fatigue. In theatrical parlance "business" or "biz" means by-play - eg Hamlet trifling with Ophelia's fan ...
and just to add some extra interest to business ... there is the "Business" newspaper in Ukraine ... but it also refers to a group of ferrets ...
@ Gary - without sun .. not very well .. but they've been around a long time ... so something must work?!
Yes non-native speakers often speak English way better than we do .. it's a pleasure to hear it spoken, when it is so well spoken .. and now-a-days that will be the case the txt-speech ...
Yes - well done .. it is a sunny Thor's day ...
@ Christine - good timing to share the week with you Viking wise .. and I certainly hope your Viking pirate story does well ..
@ Julia - where language comes has always fascinated me: and in some ways I rather wished I'd studied it ..
I'm sure we have Viking genes somewhere within in us and I hope you do get over to see the countries .. I too would like to visit ..
@ Dianne - yes we do have lots of history .. and I guess we assimilated that too and so have absorbed quite a lot of others' history from earlier times .. Byzantine, Egyptian, Greek and Roman .. let alone Anglo-Saxon ..
Interesting meme from Facebook - thanks for quoting it here .. interesting thought when I look at language again .. I'll remember that!
I don't know the answer to your question .. but I'll find out - I haven't heard mention, since I started being able to visit again .. I'll let you know ..
@ SENCO .. as the content was really challenging .. I don't think her daughter really understood ..
.. but your story about the children working on Anglo-Saxon poetry and picking out words that we still use today .. what a fascinating exercise ... thanks for letting us know about this ..
Cheers to you all - just so pleased you've enjoyed this post .. thanks - Hilary
This is fascinating. I love the painting of the ship, just beautiful.
I have always been interested in the history of language.
There are some Viking in the German language too ! What I noticed is that there are lots of French words in the English language all stemming from the Romans (Latin).
Language is constantly evolving. I wonder what the English language will be like a century from now...?
I never knew that the Vikings had such a strong influence on the English language.
I wonder what was going through King Cnut's mind that he attempted to turn back the tide in the River Trent...
Truly fascinating post, Hilary.
Have a great weekend
@ Doreen - yes Roerich's painting is an amazing one .. and like you I enjoy learning about how language has travelled ..
@ Gattina - the European languages have all mixed along over time - and we've absorbed so many words with different roots too ..
Anglo-Saxon (Old English influenced by Old Norse through the Vikings), Norman French - then became Middle English and ultimately Modern English as we know it .. with as you say a lot of roots from Latin .. it's an interesting language!
@ Michelle - English in 100 years .. an awful lot of guttural and txt-speak .. well I hope not - I hope we retain our comprehensive coverage ..
English is an amazing mix-all of language and those roots are fascinating to see and learn about ..
King Cnut was 'just saying' you couldn't turn the tide back as he continued to conquer and settle ..
@ Margie - many thanks ..
Have lovely weekends everyone - it's a glorious day here .. cheers Hilary
We went to the exhibition last week but I'm afraid I felt slightly let down by it. It failed to give me any impression of the people behind the objects. Maybe it's just not my era. (although I grew up in a Viking-founded town Skarde's Burg) I found last year's Ice Age art exhibition much more interesting.
I always find it fascinating to learn how words evolved and the influences behind language. I bet the Viking exhibit was interesting, will look forward to your post on that as we didn't make it in there on our recent school trip.
Never knew that about the River Trent either, I used to live near Newark on Trent too!
You've hit on a topic close to this old linguist's heart, Hilary. Fascinating how language changes as cultures come into contact. Those Vikings were just about everywhere, weren't they?
@ Anne - I'd read that about the Exhibition not being easy to comprehend .. I got bogged down at the beginning with people .. and everyone following on with their audio guides ..
I was glad I'd seen the film - but that too was overblown in a different way ... I'd also bought the books ... to check out more.
I tried to take a different view and will do back .. it seemed sparse somewhat .. I loved seeing the dimensions of the longboat.
But I agree with you .. we didn't learn much about the people themselves. I too saw the Ice Age Art Exhibition and was very impressed with that one ... I still need to write up about that - but remember bits that I want to include ...
@ Suzanne - it is interesting how our language evolved .. and I love coming to Cornwall for that reason - apart from "coming home"!!
School trips always have so much going on .. and I bet you saw things I haven't seen.
The River Trent tidal bore Cnut story is a thought that's being promulgated .. 'sounded good' so I put it in!
@ Lee - I love snippets of history like this too .. and yes the Vikings certainly travelled and opened up parts of the world that were unknown 1300 years ago ..
You're right it's the change that occurs as cultures come into contact ..
Cheers to you all .. have a peaceful weekend .. Hilary
Sounds like one amazing lecture. Interesting how language evolves.
Very interesting subjects (Vikings and language). I really enjoyed Stephen Pinker's book The Language Instinct on this topic.
By the way, I think Trisantona is a better word than Trespasser!
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Language is so fascinating, I find. English has been subject to so many influences. Thanks for filling me in with words and origins Hilary.
@ Rhonda - it was exceedingly interesting and I'm so pleased I went.
@ Bazza - thank you for the intro to the Stephen Pinker's book: The Language Instinct ... I'll check it out ..
I'm glad you picked up on Trisantona and agree totally it is a much more fun word than trespasser!
@ Juliet - glad you enjoyed the post .. and I'm sure in NZ there's plenty of evolved words that give you interesting connotations ..
Thanks so much for commenting .. cheers Hilary
You tell it all so well Hilary - nuggets of information that fire up the imagination and make me want to read more. A lot of work goes into your posts - I am always impressed.I loved learning about the Anglo Saxons and the Vikings at school - I think I used to know quite a lot about them - what happened? LOL! Thank you for a great post :-)
It is good to know that you are still posting this blog. I have been absent for far too long and tonight I posted for the first time in ages...and then have gone wandering about to see who is still around.
Thanks for posting. As ALWAYS, I do enjoy your words and pictures.
@ Debbie - many thanks and I enjoyed learning more .. encouraging me to go looking further too. Well I hope I can add to your knowledge when the Viking posts get done ..
@ Grace - good to see you again and thank you for looking in .. I hope the break was enjoyable ... and peaceful ..
Cheers to you both - Hilary
Oh how lovely to see some familiar words! Swedish has "evolved" quite a bit, but has it's Old Norse words still intact in many forms.
It's fascinating to hear you, a Brit, talk about my native language. You did a marvelous job, Hilary. I'd say the most common word you touched on would be "by" as so many towns still end in "by". It's stuck around, for sure! For example, The Swede spent summers in Benaryby, a small farming community not far from the more urban setting where his father was a policeman.
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@ Tina - it always interests me how many words are still around and how we can find out where they came from and when they first appeared in the English language .. going back centuries.
Yes the "by" derivation was mentioned a lot and is all around us .. we used to live near Naseby in Northamptonshire .. so "by"s have always been around ..
For sure "by" has stuck around! Lovely reading about your Dad spending the summers in Benaryby (not as Wiki spells it!) .. I see it's near the North Sea coast and now has a population of about 380 - must have been lovely spending the summers in a farming community ..
Good reminders of times gone past .. cheers Hilary
Development of the English language and the Vikings are fascinating subjects. I haven't been able to go to the Viking exhibition at the British Museum, due to work commitments, but would love to have done. It sounds so interesting. Thank you, Hilary, for sharing your experience of it and a lovely post :)
Hi Sharon - we have so much evolution of our English language I think I will write again on the subject sometime ..
Sorry you couldn't get to the Viking Exhibition .. I'll be doing a post on the Vikings, which will bring them a little more to life ..
Glad you enjoyed it .. cheers Hilary
"...The Viking Age may be long over, but its legacy remains strong.” I liked this quote.
This entire post left me wondering what it is about humans that makes us want to explore, even when the risk of death is involved.
Is just to know more or to find out what's on the other side? I doubt it's that simple, but it does define us, as well as our ancestors, in so many ways. Perhaps some day we'll learn to "come in peace." :~)
I love reading about these ancient borrowed words, and about the dialect words that are slowly dying out too. Comes from being a Tolkien fan, I suppose :-)
Hi Deniz .. thanks it does make our language fascinating .. and I really should get into Tolkein and understand his works better .. been sloth about that for far too many decades ..
I watched Wallander last night and the suffix 'by' kept coming up in the names .. now I know place of, someone lived here ...
Thank goodness we like learning still .. cheers Hilary
@ Sara - sorry missed you out - corrected herewith!!
I hope to visit the Viking Exhibition again this coming week as it finishes next Sunday ... and then I'll write more ...
It seems the exploration idea originally was because areas were over populated ... and in order to bring back new wealth to their societies ... and I guess in a funny way the same now applies .. to escape, to test our human skills against the odds, to see how others lived, to find new sources ..
Now - it is a different story - but some still want to find out and preserve before the bullies and big business strangle so much of the living world ...
The one thing that is constant - when a great upheaval occurs ... new opportunities open up for flora and fauna .. and it survives in some form ... us too apparently ...
If only we could "come in peace" for our day to day encounters - that would be amazingly helpful ... and such a great goal ..
Let's hope .. with thoughts - Hilary
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