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NORSE

NORSE Also Old Norse, Scandinavian, and (with particular reference to its use in England) DANISH. The SCANDINAVIAN LANGUAGES in an early, relatively homogeneous form. OLD ENGLISH and Old Norse were related and to some extent mutually intelligible. Despite differences in grammar, communication appears to have been widespread, especially in the early Middle Ages when Danes settled in much of England and the country was ruled by Danish kings (1016–42). The numerous PLACE-NAMES in -by, -thorp, -thwaite, -toft testify to the density of the settlement known as the DANELAW. Many words were identical or similar in the two languages, such as folk, hus, sorg (sorrow), which were both English and Norse, and such correspondences as Old English fæder, gærs/græs, wif, Old Norse faðir, gras, vif (father, grass, wife). Norse came to exercise a marked influence on English, especially when the Norman Conquest in the 11c broke the continuity of the Old English standard based on the West Saxon dialect. Norse influence has taken two forms: influence on English at large and influence on NORTHERN ENGLISH and SCOTS.

Influence on English at large

Much of the everyday vocabulary of English is of Norse origin: call, cast, fellow, gape, happy, hit, husband, ill, leg, loose, low, sister, skill, skirt, sky, take, weak, window, wrong. Occasionally, both the English and the Norse form of the same word have survived as DOUBLETS: shirt (English), skirt (Norse). Norse borrowings include such legal and administrative terms as hustings, law, bylaw, outlaw, and riding (as in the North Riding of Yorkshire and as used in CanE for a parliamentary constituency), but the overwhelming majority of Norse words in English are general, everyday expressions, such as must have arisen from close social contact between the two peoples, an impression reinforced by the Norse origin of a number of English grammatical words: they/their/them, though, both. It is also possible that some syntactic structures common to MODERN ENGLISH and Scandinavian but unknown in other GERMANIC LANGUAGES (such as the house we live in) had their origin in the Danelaw.

Influence on Northern English and Scots

A large number of Norse words which have not spread into English at large survive in the usage of northern England and Scotland: gate a street, ken to know (used in general English only in the phrase beyond our ken), lake to play, neb beak. Sometimes the Norse form is regional while a corresponding English form is standard: garth/yard, kirn/churn, kist/chest, skell/shell. In other cases of north—south doublets, both forms now belong to general English: kirk/church, skirl/shrill, screech/shriek. See SCOTS.

Conclusion

The extensive Norse settlements in the British Isles during the Viking age, followed by a long period of coexistence, have had a profound influence on English. Because of close kinship, Scandinavian influence is less immediately obvious than other foreign influences, yet it has altered basic vocabulary and grammar, and has permeated DIALECT usage even more than the STANDARD LANGUAGE. In its origin and earliest form, English is classed with the West Germanic languages, a group which comprised the ancestors of Dutch, Frisian, and German, but a detailed comparison of the languages in their present form might place English nearer to the North Germanic group. See IRISH ENGLISH, NORN.

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Norse

Norse, another name for the North Germanic, or Scandinavian, group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). The modern Norse languages—Danish, Faeroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish—all stem from an earlier form of Norse known as Old Norse. Now extinct, Old Norse was the language spoken by the Germanic tribes living in Scandinavia before AD 1000. It was first written in runes, some examples of which go back to the 3d cent. AD, but later the Roman alphabet was used. The earliest extant Old Norse manuscripts in the Roman alphabet are from the 12th cent. Old Norse is also noteworthy as the language of the Eddas and sagas (see Old Norse literature; Icelandic literature).

See E. V. Garden, An Introduction to Old Norse (2d ed. 1957).

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Norse

Norse / nôrs/ • n. 1. the Norwegian language, esp. in its medieval form. ∎  the Scandinavian language group. 2. [treated as pl.] Norwegians or Scandinavians, esp. in medieval times. • adj. of or relating to medieval Norway or Scandinavia, or their inhabitants or language. DERIVATIVES: Norse·man / ˈnôrsmən/ n. (pl. -men) .

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Norse

Norse (hist.) Norwegian XVI; sb. and adj. the Norwegian tongue XVII (Old N., the language of Norway and its colonies to XIV). — Du. noorsch, var. of noordsch, f. noord NORTH + -sch -ISH1.

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Norse

Norsecoarse, corse, course, divorce, endorse (US indorse), enforce, force, gorse, hoarse, horse, morse, Norse, perforce, reinforce, sauce, source, torse •Wilberforce • workforce • packhorse •carthorse • racehorse • sea horse •hobby horse • Whitehorse •sawhorse, warhorse •clothes horse • shire horse •workhorse • racecourse • concourse •intercourse • watercourse •outsource

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