The multiculturalism of today’s Britain is a phenomenon that has recently been much spoken about for a number of reasons. However, very few people tend to think about the fact that the English language itself is equally multicultural, with thousands of words having been borrowed from other languages, particularly Latin, French and Old Norse (the language of the Vikings). Whereas many of the words borrowed from the first two languages can be easily recognised thanks to their form or very formal use (e.g. alumni, beaux, cuisine, etc.), that is not the case for the terms borrowed from Old Norse. They are so deeply integrated into the language that no one would suspect that they have not always been part of English (e.g. they, skull, window, happy, ugly, cast, take, etc.). In this talk, we will explore the nature of the linguistic legacy that the Vikings left behind: the differences between Latin-, French- and Norse-derived words, what the latter can tell us about Viking-English relations and how best to identify and classify Norse loans in English.
Speaker: Dr Sara M. Pons-Sanz
Sara is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University. She specialises on the impact that Anglo-Scandinavian linguistic contacts had on the (medieval) English vocabulary, an field of research where she has authored a number of articles and monographs, including Norse-Derived Vocabulary in Late Old English Texts: Wulfstan’s Works, a Case Study (Odense, 2007) and The Lexical Effects of Anglo-Scandinavian Linguistic Contact on Old English (Turnhout, 2013). She is currently working on the ‘Gersum Project: Scandinavian Influence on English Vocabulary’ (www.gersum.org), and leads the Medieval English (ca600-1500) in a Multilingual Context academic network (https://memc1500.wordpress.com).
Image: The Watlington Hoard, found in Oxfordshire