The role played by the german and scandinavian tribes on english language — страница 7

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Northman in a number of par­ticulars in which West Saxon showed divergence. The two may even have been mutually intelligible to a limited extent. Con temporary statements on the subject are conflicting, and it is difficult to arrive at a conviction. But wherever the truth lies in this debatable question, there can be no doubt that the basis existed for an extensive interaction of the two languages upon each other, and this conclusion is amply borne out by the large number of Scandinavian elements subsequently found in English. The Tests of Borrowed Words. The similarity between Old English and the language of the Scandinavian invaders makes it at times very difficult to decide whether a given word in Modern English is a native or a borrowed word. Many of the commoner words of

the two languages were identical, and if we had no Old English literature from the period before the Danish invasions, we should be unable to say that many words were not of Scandinavian origin. In certain cases, however, we have very reliable criteria by which we can recognize a borrowed word. These tests are not such as the layman can generally apply, although occasionally they are sufficiently simple. The most reliable depend upon differences in the development of certain sounds in the North Teutonic and West Teutonic areas. One of the simplest to recognize is the development of the sound sk. In Old English this was early palatalized tojh (written sc), except possibly in the combination scr, whereas in the Scandinavian countries it retained its hard sk sound. Consequently,

while native words like ship, shall, fish have sh in Modern English, words borrowed from the Scandinavians are generally still pro­nounced with sk: sky, skin, skill, scrape, scrub, bask, whisk. The O.E. ycyrlc has become shirt, while the corresponding O.N. form skyrla gives us skirt. In the same way the retention of the hard pronunciation of k and g in such words as kid, dike1 (cf. ditch) get, give, gild, egg, is an indication of Scandinavian origin. Oc­casionally, though not very often, the vowel of a word gives clear proof of borrowing. For example, the Teutonic diphthong ai became â in Old English (and has become ö in modern English), but became ei or e in Old Scandinavian. Thus aye, nay (beside no from the native word), hale (cf. the English form (w)lwle), reindeer,

swain are borrowed words, and many more examples can be found in Middle English and in the modern dialects. Thus there existed in Middle English the forms geit, gait, which are from Scandinavian, beside gat, göt from the O.E. word. The native word has survived in Modern English goat. In the same way the Scandinavian word for loathsome existed in Middle Eng­lish as leip, laif) beside Id}), loft. Such tests as these, based on sound-developments in the two languages are the most reliable means of distinguishing Scandinavian from native words. But occasionally meaning gives a fairly reliable test. Thus our word bloom (flower) could come equally well from O.E. blorna or Scandinavian blöm. But the O.E. word meant an "ingot of iron', whereas the Scandinavian word meant

'flower, bloom'. It happens that the Old English word has survived as a term in metallurgy, but it is the Old Norse word that has come clown in ordinary use. Again, if the initial g in gift did not betray the Scandinavian origin of this word, we should be justified in suspecting it from the fact that the cognate O.E. word gift meant the 'price of a wife', and hence in the plural 'marriage,' while the O.N. word had the more general sense of 'gift, present'. The word plow in Old English meant a measure of land, in Scandinavian the agri­cultural implement, which in Old English was called a sulh. When neither the form of a word nor its meaning proves its Scandinavian origin we can never be sure that we have to do with a borrowed word. The fact that an original has not been

preserved in Old English is no proof that such an original did not exist. Nevertheless when a word appears in Middle English which cannot be traced to an Old English source but for which an entirely satisfactory original exists in Old Norse, and when that word occurs chiefly in texts written in districts where Danish influence was strong, or when it has survived in dialectal use in these districts today, the probability that we have here a borrowed word is fairly strong. In every case final judgment must rest upon a careful consideration of all the factors involved. CHAPTER IV Scandinavian Place-names. Among the most notable evi­dences of the extensive Scandinavian settlement in England is the large number of places that bear Scandinavian names. When we find more than six