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Scandinavian influence on the English Language

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Introduction

LNG 2100 The History of the English Language Assignment 2 SCANDINAVIAN INFLUENCE- Compare and contrast with French influence. Look at the nature of Scandinavian loans. The English language is a member of the Indo-European family of languages; this broad group includes most of the European languages spoken today such as German Arabic and Latin. English has been shaped by a number of these other languages over the centuries, mainly French, Latin, German and Scandinavian. These languages have had a major impact on the Present Day English vocabulary we hear and see today. This essay will mainly focus on the French and Scandinavian language, and the impact these had on the English language, infiltrating its vocabulary and grammar, and discuss, as a whole, which made the biggest impact to form modern day English. As a result of the Vikings invading during the Old English Period (600 - 1100) the English spoken and written language was impacted significantly by the Scandinavian influence. The Scandinavian or Viking invaders of the 8th century were intimately related to the original Germanic settlers of England, the Angles, Jutes and Saxons, and similarly so was their language, and so this combined influence of Germanic dialects and Scandinavian helped erode the inflectional endings of Old English, and also made additions to the English glossary. ...read more.

Middle

-thorpe (which meant village) in Linthorp, Althorp. -thwaite (which was indicative of an isolated piece of land) in Applethwaite, Braithwaute, Langthwaite. -toft (meaning a piece of ground or homestead) in Eastoft, Lowestoft, Nortoft, Sandtoft.1 Many family names or surnames contain Scandinavian elements, these may be names of places, Viking personalities, trades or occupations and Norse Gods, some examples include; Appleby, Fotherby, Hislop, Thorpe, Willoughby.2 Here we see a similar pattern to other Scandinavian words previously mentioned, such as the -by ending. Other aspects of the English language were manipulated by this invasion, including suffixes amongst other lexical items; The suffix -son (meaning the son of___) Thomson, Wilson, Patterson. Nouns: bull, window, sky, kid, race, leg. Adjectives: meek, odd, rotten, weak, tight. Verbs: call, gape, take, give, thrust. The second person singular form of the verb to be, i.e. are, was also taken from Old Norse. Present English third person plural pronouns: they, them, their, these were also adopted from Old Norse, as the original native forms were respectively hie, hira, him.3 Also the verb to take taka in Scandinavian, and so this is clear evidence of borrowing, as the Old English version niman. Up until the invasion of the French, the Scandinavian influence ruled the English written and spoken language, however after the take over, the Scandinavian words began to die out, and were replaced by French words. ...read more.

Conclusion

By doing this 10,000 Norman French and Central French words were transferred into English, 75% of which are still in use today. English became a language of free stress and became more open to lexical borrowings. The English language has had many foreign influences throughout the years, whether it be the Latin impact in the semantics of religious and education, or the Germanic settlers in the 5th century, English would not be what it is today without these heavy influence. Although, there is an overlap within the language barrier, I generally feel overall that it is apparent the French Language had a much more major influence on the English Language when compared to the Scandinavian influence, as many of the words died out and were changed by the Normans after the invasion. Although Scandinavian elements can still be seen within family surnames and place names, and even some words remaining in modern lexicon such as egg, skirt and the verb to take, it is clear that there are far more French words remaining in comparison, within the semantic field of war, government, fashion and law. Statistics show within the English language approximately 15,000 French words are still used, 7,500 of which are still used from the Norman occupation, when they first appeared in England. ...read more.

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