Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English


Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English


Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English

Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English

Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English

English as a language has not come to the present worldwide station in a day or two, but through evolution and development throughout the centuries by borrowing and inserting many foreign elements into it. The first enormous and strong influence on English was that of Latin, then that of Celtic. But the Celtic influence was not as vast and strong as that of Latin influence. English had borrowed only some names of rivers, mountains and places and a few other words but they have lost into oblivion. After these two influences, English came under another foreign influence called the Scandinavian influence; the influence of which is even stronger and more significant. The Scandinavian influence on English began in English with the Danish invasion of England towards the end of the eighth century and this influence lasted down continuously for nearly three centuries, till the Norman conquest of  England, The Danish (the inhabitants of Denmark) were a Germanic race and spoke a language very much like that of the English. The lifeway, customs, religion and social order of the Danish were as same as their English cousins. So the Scandinavians (the Danish were a nation belonging to Scandinavia) were not looked upon as foreigners by the English. The settlers (the Danes) did not think the natives of England to be their (of the Danish) conquered people, rather they easily sank into the mass of the natives of England and that is why the influence of the Danes on English became easy and spontaneous. The Scandinavian influence on English was three-fold: first, it lent its own words to English and secondly, it modified many English words both in meaning and pronunciation.

First of all the Scandinavians influenced many everyday nouns and commonplace verbs and adjectives in English such as-

Nouns–husband, sky, skin, skill etc.

Commonplace adjectives — happy, low, week, ugly, wrong etc.

Commonplace verbs– die, cast, hit, call, guess, take etc.

Secondly, the Scandinavian influence on English was one class of personal nouns ending in ‘son’ as- Gibson, Johnson, Thomson, Robinson, Tillotson, etc.

Thirdly, the Scandinavian influence was on English grammar and syntax. It is said that the ‘s’ ending in the third person singular number in the present indicative tense of a verb is due to the Scandinavian influence. For example, Santanu breaks the window. Here we see that the verb ‘break’ takes ‘s’ because the subject of the verb is in the third person singular number in the present tense. The omission of the relative pronoun in the relative clause as ‘this is the book he brought’- is due to the Scandinavian influence. Here the relative pronoun ‘which’ is omitted.

Fourthly, the Scandinavians revived and popularized many obscured and obsolete English words such as- blend, dale, barn etc.

Fifthly, the Scandinavians modified many English words as the word ‘yet’ was taught to be pronounced with the initial ‘y’ as the Scandinavians pronounced the word ‘gun’ with the initial ‘g’. The form of many old English words such as- swuster, yift, yeve, chetel have been modified by the corresponding Scandinavian words as- sister, gift, give, kettle etc.

Sixthly, the Scandinavians did not modify the English words only but modified the meaning of many Old English words. The meaning of the word idwell (O.E. dwellan) was ‘to lead stray’, but its modern meaning to ‘live in a place or house’ is given by the Scandinavians. The other English words modified in meaning by Scandinavian are – dream (O.E. to mean joy, mirth), plough (O.E. meant the measurement of land) etc.

The Danish or the Scandinavians did not enrich the English vocabulary only, but also made the English language more modified, simple, easier, and more popular. 0 0 0 Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English

Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English

Read More: Latin Influences on English

N. B. This article entitled ‘Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English’ originally belongs to the book ‘A Brief History of the English Language‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English

Scandinavian (Norse) Influences on English

Books on Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

Related Searches:

  1. The Influence of Old Norse on English
  2. Scandinavian Influences on English Language
  3. Latin Influences on English Language
  4. 10 Characteristics of Human Language
  5. 10 Main Features of Human Language
  6. Characteristics of Language
  7. The English Language: Some Characteristics
  8. Characteristics of Modern English Language


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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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