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21. Scandinavian borrowings

The Scandinavian influence on Britain can be thought of in terms of three episodes. Firstly, we can think of the period 750–1016 when the Vikings (Scandinavians) began attacking the northern and eastern shores of Britain and settling in those parts of Britain. There was a state of enmity between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, so unsurprisingly, not many Scandinavian borrowings took place; these include husband and law. Secondly, we can consider the period 1016–1050, where the conditions were more or less similar to the earlier period, only that King Alfred the Great had succeeded in uniting the Anglo-Saxons through actively promoting the English language (among other things). There were more borrowings, including knife and die. Finally, we have the period 1050–1480. The French-speaking Normans took over Britain in 1066, and both the English and Scandinavians were given the same fate and were subdued by the Normans. Naturally, the English and the Scandinavians come together and interact with each other more closely. Therefore, a massive influence of the Scandinavian languages on English, in both grammar and vocabulary. It is very difficult to pick out Scandinavian loan-words in English. This is because they seem to have the same quality and texture as Anglo-Saxon words. They are ordinary, everyday words, and quite often monosyllabic and include grammatical words (like the verb are (to be), or the pronouns their, them and they and some of the commonest words in English today like bag, dirt, fog, knife, flat, low, odd, ugly, want, trust, get, give, take, raise, smile and though. A good number of sc- or sk- words today are of Scandinavian origin (scathe, scorch, score, scowl, scrape, scrub, skill, skin, skirt, sky). Scandinavian loan-words are therefore more usefully considered as core items. They  came to settle rather  than  figfht



21.06.2015; 14:50
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