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View Diary: ÍslensKos: The Icelandic Language (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Lingustic Complexity) (183 comments)

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  •  Your diary brings back good memories (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    taonow, Rei, NonnyO, ozsea1, PrahaPartizan, cpresley

    of my visits to Iceland. One thing I found interesting was that I could "read" the newspaper there and understand a reasonably good amount of it. I suppose like many others I was taught at a young age that English came from Latin mostly, with all those Latin prefixes and suffixes. I was surprised to learn through experience that it came equally or more so from Old Norse!


    "Without LOVE in the dream it will never come true..." -Robert Hunter/Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 05:34:24 PM PDT

    •  Great Britain... (3+ / 0-)

      ... was not called England until after the Anglo-Saxon invasion (pre-Viking invasions in the 9th century).  With the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (Danish & Germanic languages) came the Danelaw..., and when the Angles settled one segment of Britain, it was called Angle-Land which morphed into the word England.

      Anglo-Saxons were first invited to Britain [during the period that spawned tales of King Arthur who was apparently a Dux Bellorum, a warlord, not a king, but a local petty chieftain or warlord doesn't sound as grand as a king] help the local chiefs subdue other petty kingdoms after the Romans left by 410 ACE.  The Romans had invaded with Julius Caesar in 55-54 BCE (he failed in the first attempt, succeeded in the second attempt, and others completed the invasion).  Caesar has already subjugated the Gauls and the Germanic tribes with whom he came in contact.  Some of the mercenaries who went with the Roman armies to Britain were from the Teutonic/Germanic tribes; others were from other places in the Roman Empire.

      Then the Vikings invaded, followed by farmers, traders and craftsmen from Denmark and Norway, just as what had happened when the Anglo-Saxons invaded.  Jorvik/York was one of the primary harbors for a while.  In Ireland the Vikings founded many coastal towns, including Dublin.  The longest Viking ship ever found was in Roskilde harbor in Denmark, but dendrochronological tests revealed it was made from timber in Ireland (ergo, almost certainly made in Ireland, too).  The people who became the Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians had overland routes via European rivers and portages to the Byzantine Empire when they didn't sail in their very seaworthy ships past the English Channel then down to the Mediterranean Sea.  William the Bastard was the son of a Norman Viking in Normandy, France..., so when he invaded in 1066 as William the Conquerer, that was another "Viking invasion," but many of the nobles who came with him were French (or French-Viking).

      In any case, England, Scotland, the Orkneys and other islands off of Scotland and England, and Ireland all had Viking settlements eventually.  Any location in England ending in 'by' [town] shows the Viking influence.  In ancient and modern times 'by' has meant 'town.'  A lea is a meadow.  It has morphed into several spellings for both male and female names.  Beverly, Beverlee, Beverley, etc., are names that mean 'dweller by the beaver meadow.'  (Several towns in England named Beverly, and one in MA that I know of was named for one of those locations.  The first English settlers brought the names of their home locations with them and gave them to locations in the US.)

      That one little area of the world is remarkable for the number of cultural influences from various peoples.  Ancient Celts, Romans (with attendant mercenaries at times; retired troops were given farms of 40 acres, so their descendants became British/English after enough time passed), Angles, Saxons, Jutes, people from what is modern-day Germany and Holland, Denmark, Norway.

      When I was listening to Jens Stoltenberg and King Harald and others from Norwegian memorial services after 7/22 and the memorial service in Copenhagen, Denmark, I was surprised at how much I could comprehend when the speakers kept their sentences measured and pronounced their words clearly.  I had forgotten much of what I learned in taking two years of Norwegian, but it kinda came back to me the longer I listened to the online webcasts.  I learn best when I totally immerse myself in one subject.  So, too, with language, I think.

      That's too long a short explanation of the influences that went into the "English language" (which is a collection of many languages), but that's why you could understand some of the words you were reading with no translation.  English has its roots in ancient Viking languages like Icelandic, which included the Anglo-Saxon areas all those centuries ago.

      Pretty neat, huh?  :-)

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 09:45:19 PM PDT

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      •  Tiny suggested correction (0+ / 0-)

        my studies would have me believe the Dane Law came with the Vikings and not the Jutes of centuries before. That is the Jutes are most associated with Kent and the Isle of Wight while the Dane Law associates more closely with  E and W Anglia, Yorkshire, and the Mid-Lands historically overrun the the Viking/Danish Great Army in the ninth century. The two invasions may blend together for us moderns  but in reality the ages of Hengist and Horsa and that of  the Viking invasions are quite close to the timeframe that separates the immigrant of today from the Mayflower, I.e right on 400 years.

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        by Bruce Webb on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 05:50:07 PM PDT

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