Lenguaje, Gramática y Filologías

Historia de la lengua inglesa

1.Summaries of the readings

Old English was not merely the product of dialects brought to England by the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons. These formed its basis, the sole basis of its grammar and the source of by far the largest part of its vocabulary in the course of the first 700 years of its existence in England it was brought into contact with at least three other languages, the language of the Celts, the Romans, and the Scandinavians. From each of these contacts it shows certain effects, especially additions to its vocabulary. Although, it is important to comment every of the influences of each language, the paper is focused on the Scandinavian influence on Old English. To follow an order, the summary begins with a brief summary of the Scandinavians invasions over England, afterwards, the relation of the two languages and the effect on grammar and syntax, and to finish the period and the extent of the influence.

In the 8th century, the Germanic inhabitants of the Scandinavian Peninsula and Denmark changed their peaceful minds and provoked among them a spirit of unrest and adventurous enterprise. They began a series of attacks upon all the lands adjacent to the North Sea and the Baltic. One of them was England. Their attacks upon England can be divided into three well-marked stages. The first is the period of early raids in 787 and continuing until about 850. These early raids were apparently the work of small isolated bands. The second stage is the work of largest armies and is marked by widespread plundering in all of the country and by extensive settlements. The eastern part of England was now in hands of the Danes around the years 871. King Alfred supported seven years of resistance but he was forced to take refuge in the marshes of Somerset. The Treaty of Wedmore culminated the second stage in the Danish invasions. The third stage was from 878 and 1042. After the Danes agreed to accept Christianity, Guthrum was inclined to break faith, and there were fresh invasions from outside, so the Treaty of Wedmore did not put an end to Alfred's troubles. In 991 a substantial Viking fleet attacked various towns along the southeast coast of England. After a large period of fighting and invasions, Danish king got to claim to the English throne for the next 25 years.

On the other hand, the relation between the two languages in the district settled by the Danes is a matter of inference rather than exact knowledge. Doubtless, the situation was similar to that observable in numerous parts of the world today where people speaking different languages are found living side by side in the same region. Although in same places the Scandinavians give up their language early. Up until the time of the Norman Conquest the Scandinavian language in England was constantly being renewed by the steady stream of the trade and conquest. In some parts of Scotland, Norse was still spoken as late as the 17th century. The Anglia dialect resembled the language of the North men in a number of particulars in which West Saxon showed divergence. The two may even have mutually intelligible to a limit extent. According to the Scandinavian influence, not only vocabulary was affected but grammar and syntax were modified as well. A certain number of inflectional elements peculiar to the Northumbrian dialect have being attributed to Scandinavian influence, among others the -s of the third person singular, present indicative of the verbs and the participial ending -and (bindand), corresponding to -end and -ind in the Midlands and South, and now replaced by -ing. The words scant, want, and athwart preserve in the final t the neuter adjective ending of the Old Norse. But it is much more important to recognize that in many words the English and the Scandinavian languages differed in their inflectional elements. In the mixed population that existed in the Danelaw these endings must have led to much confusion, tending gradually to become obscure and finally lost.

To finish, the period and the extent of the Scandinavian influence is a little complicated as it is hardly possible to estimate the extent by the number of the borrowed words that exist in Standard English, which is about 900.Furthermore, there are thousands of Scandinavians words that are still a part of the everyday speech of the people in the north and east of England and in a sense are just as much as part of the living language as those that are used in other parts of the country and have made their way into literature. Wright, the editor of the English Dialect Dictionary, notes that “ if we exclude all sc- words of various origins which are common to the Standard language and the dialects, it is a remarkable fact that the EDD contains 1,154 simple words beginning with sc- (sk-). Because of its extent and the intimate way in which the borrowed elements were incorporated, the Scandinavian influence is one of the most interesting of the foreign influences that have contributed to the English language.

2. Lexical Commentary

To elaborate the lexical commentary upon the lexis that Scandinavians invaders introduced into English, it is necessary to analyse and differ the development of certain sounds in North Germanic and West Germanic areas. We have bear in mind the development of the sound sk-. This sound in OE period changed, that is to say, the sound was palatalised to sh and written sc, but this was not a strict rule as in the combination of the sound scr- the sound sk remained with its hard pronunciation. Consequently, whilst native words like ship, shall, and fish have the palatalised sh sound in Modern English, words borrowed from the Scandinavians are generally pronounced with the velar sound SK like skin, scrape, scrub, bask, or whisk. According to that, the evolution in MnE. of scryte is shirt because shirt is a native word of OE, while the corresponding ON form skyrta gives us the word in MnE skirt because of its Scandinavian origin. After we have analysed and explained the two different examples about the evolution in MnE of a native and a borrowed (Scandinavian) word, it could be clearer to understand the following tables of contents in which the precious examples are represented.







Because of its origin the word palatalised the sound sc- to sh- in MnE.



Second person Scealt shalt



Because of its origin the word palatalised the sound sc- to sh- in MnE.





Ský, Scuwo (OHG)


From 13th C. from ON ský, OE sceo, Old Saxon skio and more remotely OE scuwa.



Late OE scin (n). ON skinn and OHG scidan.



From ON its equivalent in OE scrapian.



Usually referred to ON baδask in the 14th century.



Scandinavian stem represented by ON visk wisp.

Gefa/ OE Giefan


From gefa in which the vocalic change gives us a- I instead of -e and v instead of f. but the most important thing is the retention of -g- sound.



From ON gylha.



Dated upon 13th century from ON

As we can see in the TB the retention if hard sounds of occlusive voiceless velar K and occlusive voice velar G in such words as kid, give, or get announces that they come form Scandinavian language, but it is possible, however, the retention of hard K and G is due to Anglian dialect rather than Scandinavian tendencies, as Albert C. Baugh & Thomas Cable say in their book, A History of the English Language.

On the other hand, not just consonants can be a proof of the Scandinavian influence upon OE but the modification of the vowels is also important in the lexical commentary. For instance, the Germanic diphthong ai becomes a in OE (and evolutionated in MnE in o) but became in ei or e in Old Scandinavian. In that way, aye, nay, hale, reindeer, and swain are borrowed words, which could be found in Middle English and Modern dialects. So we can find in ME geit and gait, which comes from Scandinavian, beside gat, got from OE. The native word has survived in MnE as goat. In the same way, the Scandinavian word for loathsome existed in ME as leip, laip beside lap, lop. Such tests as these, based on sound-developments in the two languages, are the most reliable means of distinguishing Scandinavian words from native words. Nevertheless, it is evident that when a word appears in ME and it does not have an equivalent in OE but for which an entirely satisfactory original exists in Norse or in written papers where Danes influence was strong, the probability that we have a borrowed word is fairly strong.

Among the most notable evidences of the extensive Scandinavian settlement in England is the large number of place that bear Scandinavian names. We can denote that Scandinavian influence is marked in places because of the suffixes, which names end in. These suffixes are such -by, -throp, -thwaite, -toft. Each of them makes in the name a different meaning. Look at the following corresponding:





Farm, town

Derby, Thoresby, Grimsby, Rugby, Whitby…



Althop, Bishopsthorp, Linthorpe, Gawthorpe…


Isolate piece of land

Applethwaite, Brainthwaite, Satterthwaite…


Piece of ground, a messuage

Brimtoft, Eastoft, Langtoft, Nortoft, Lowestoft…

Most and more concentrated number of place-names area found nearly Yorkshire and Lincolnshire but also Cumbria contributes a large number, reflecting to extensive Norse settlements in the northwest. However, the Scandinavian influence in OE in place-names is not the only one but other suffixes are found even in proper names. This Scandinavian suffix shared is peculiarity with another suffix that had already existed in OE. This OE suffix was the patronymic if OE proper names, such as Browning, while the Scandinavian patronymic was -son, as Stevenson or Johnson.

Nevertheless, the Scandinavians words that made their way into English were not confined to nouns, adjective, and verbs but also in pronouns, prepositions, adverbs, and even in part of the verb to be. The pronouns they, their, them are Scandinavians while OE used hie, hiera, him. The Scandinavians pronouns were felt to bee less subject to confusion with forms of the singular. However, they are not the only pronouns found but also hanum for him from ON. Both and same though they are not pronouns, they have pronominal uses and they are of

Scandinavian origin. The preposition till was once used in the sense of to beside having its present meaning; and fro likewise in common use as the equivalent of from, survive in the phrase to and fro. From the same source comes the modern form of the conjunction though, the ON equivalent of OE peah. The Scandinavian use of at as a sign of the infinitive is to be seen in the English ado (at-do) as was more widely used in the construction in ME. The adverbs aloft, athwart, aye (ever), and seemly and the earlier nepen (hence) and hwepen (whence) are all derived from Scandinavian. Finally, the present plural are of the verb to be is a most significant adoption. While we aron was the OE form in the north, the West Saxon plural was syndon (cf. German sind), and the form are in MnE awes its extension to the influence of the Danes. When we remember that in they are both the pronoun and the verb are Scandinavian we realize once more how intimately the language of the invaders has entered into English.

See E. Ekwall, `How long did the Scandinavian language survive in England?' J. Miscellany pp. 17-30, and R. I. Page, `How long the Scandinavian language survive in England? The Epigraphical Evidence'

W Keller, “ Skandinavischer Einfluss in der englischen Flexion”

Joseph and Elizabeth M. Wright, “ A elementary Middle English Grammar” p. 82

See Albert C. Baugh & Thomas Cable, A History of the English Language, p. 97

Albert C. Baugh & Thomas Cable, A History of the English Language.


Enviado por:Alberto Peñalver
Idioma: inglés
País: España

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