Near the end of the OE period, English suffered another foreign influence, the influence of Scandinavian people between 750-1050. This period was one of great migrations in the history of
Europe. These migrations started with plunder raids. People from established a kingdom in part of the European Russia. People from Sweden settled in part of the Norway British isles. Some of them continued to the Færoes. Others went until and even Greeland and the Coast of Iceland Labrador. The Danes also migrated. They occupied part of , France (Land of the North Men), and also moved on to the Normandy British Isles. All those peoples were known as Vikings.
- From Norse: “vik” = bay
- From Old English: “wic” = village, settlement from “vicus”
They gained fame of being violent and also very good sailors. The very last researches emphasized the peaceful benefits of Scandinavian landings.
The Viking raids in
began seriously in 793. In this year, the monasteries of England Lindisfarne and Jarrow were sacked in different seasons and plundered of gold and silver. By the mid 9thc, almost half of the country was in Viking hands, the eastern part was Dane. Once they settled there, they paid attention to . The attacks started just before the accession of King Alfred the Great to the throne (871-899). Wessex
He was one of the greatest kings of
. He had to resist all Viking attacks. After 7 years he took refuge in the marshes (pantanos) of England . He formed an army with countrymen and defeated the Danes in the battle of Ethandune. The Danes capitulated and a treaty was signed by both parts, the treaty of Wedmore between king Alfred and Guthrum, according to which the Danes should withdraw from Alfred’s territory (the West). The terms were not enough good for the Danes and did not like this. The limits of English territory were defined with a line from Somerset to London . The Danes agree to accept Christianity, and Guthrum was baptised. This fact influenced in the eventual fusion of both people. Chester
THE INFLUENCE OF THE NORSEMEN. The Norse raids, beginning with the destruction of
Lindisfarne in 793, had a lasting influence on the structure and vocabulary of English. After their defeat by Alfred the Great, the Danes withdrew noth of a line agreed by treaty (known later as “the Danelaw”) where they settled alongside the Saxon communities. This map shows how the esat coast bore the brunt of Viking attacks, how Norse settlement was confined within “the Danelaw”, and how the Vikings left their mark on the place-names of the north country. One of the most characteristic Norse place-name endings was –by, meaning “a farm”.
After Alfred was the sovereign of the SW of England he centred on Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. The capital was Winchester. The problem was that King Alfred had no power over the Dane territories. He felt that he needed the support of people living in other countries in the Danelaw district. He had to retain control over territories which were not him. He appealed the feeling of “Englishness”, using the English language as means of creating a national identity. He restored his kingdom and rebuilt the churches and schools. He used English and not Latin as the basis for education. He learned Latin to take part in the translations of some important texts. He describes his English language campaign (hacer campaña) in the preface to Cura Pastoralis of Pope Gregory. After the treaty, Guthrum went back to his own religion. Besides that, there were more invasions.
Under the reign of Alfred’s son, Edward the Elder, Danes were attacked and defeated (battle of Brunanburh in 937). Most of the island was under English control. They controlled part of the East, but the situation did not last because in the battle of Maldon (991) the English lose their leader and the Danish forces marched again to
. In 1014 Svein and his son Cnut (Canuto) drove the English king Ethelred II into exile. After that, he was known as the Unready. The Danes got the throne. Eventually, Knut became the king and England was controlled in the next years by Danish kings, Harald I and Hardicanute. England
The last of AS kings was Edward the confessor, coming from the house of Alfred the Great.
The consequences of the Danish reign were that 1400 place names presented Scandinavian names. Lots of them are in the North and East. Is the district of Danelaw: people who lived there, had to follow the Dane’s laws.
More than 600 presented the –by ending (by=farm),
, Whitley, Grimsby Rugby, , etc; 300 had –Thorpe (= village): Linthorpe, Scanthorpe; 300 had –thwaite (= isolated place): Satterthwaite; 100 presented –toft (= piece of ground): Eastoft, Derby Lowestoft. These names are not uniformly distributed. English names present the patronymic –son (Danish –sen, e.g. Nielsen): Stevenson, Richardson.
We must take into account that this civilization was very similar to the AS culture. Apart from battles, they got on well most of the time. Both languages were much interlinked.
Words from Scandinavian: egg (OE æg). Skin, sky, skull, skir, window, sister, fellow, sk- is typically Scandinavian.
Adjectives: awkward, meek, odd, rotten, weak.
Verbs: call, give, take, die ,get, thrust.
The borrowing of words was not limited to the exchange of words, but it extended to pronouns, prepositions or conjunctions, what is unusual. Conclusion: the contact was deeper than we can think.
Pronouns: they, them, their (OE hie, him, hira). The 2 systems coexisted for a time. Later, the foreigner forms imposed and AS forms disappeared.
In the part of
Hie syndom (OE) – þei aron (Scandinavian) – They are (today)
Other words: same, both, at, to (+infinitive), aloft, are (3rd p.pl V. “to be “).
Adverbs: henc, seemly
Some prepositions like till, at that time had expanding meaning: was the same of “to”, but its meaning was limited by time. “Fro” =froma: appears in the construction of “to …. From”
BASIC TERMS BORROWED FROM LATIN
Þ Anglo - Saxon
Þ Modern English
A thousand (paces)
ANGLO-SAXON PLACE NAMES
Anglo - Saxon
Modern English form
The sons of
NORSE ELEMENTS IN PLACE-NAMES
Old Norse form