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NORN. A variety of NORSE once spoken in and around the Northern Isles of Scotland, and known as Orkney Norn and Shetland Norn. Orkney and Shetland were settled in the 9c by Norse-speaking farmers, mainly from south-western Norway, who imposed their language on the local Pictish people. At about the same time there were settlements by Scandinavians in Caithness and in the West Highlands and Islands. But nowhere else in the British Isles did links with Scandinavia endure so long and leave such striking imprints on dialects, place-names, culture, and folk memory. There was Scots influence in the family of the earls of Orkney from the 12c, but after the accession of the Lowland Scottish Sinclairs to the Earldom in 1379, and the pledging of Orkney and Shetland in 1468/9 by the King of Norway and Denmark to the King of Scots, the islands became dominated by SCOTS-speaking rulers, administrators, and clerics. From the 16c or earlier, Scots appears to have been the ‘high’ and Norn the ‘low’ language.

It has been conjectured that Norn was superseded by Scots in Caithness in the 15c and by GAELIC in the West Highlands and Islands in the 16c, but it appears to have endured to the later 18c in Orkney and perhaps into the 19c in Shetland. Garbled fragments (rhymes, proverbs, riddles, and snatches of songs) persisted in Orkney and especially Shetland folklore to the 20c (as late as 1958 on the island of Foula). The scanty earlier records reveal a language related to Faroese, but with a decaying inflectional system, as in this passage from the Lord's Prayer, as recorded by James Wallace in Account of the Islands of Orkney (1700): Ga vus da on da dalight brow vora, firgive vus sinna vora, sin vee firgive sindara mutha vs (Give us each day our daily bread, Forgive us our sins, as we forgive sins against us). The equivalent Old Norse was: Gef oss dag um dag dagligt brauð vort, fyrirgef oss syndir va *plrar, sem vér fyrirgef syndir i móti oss. Local documents in Older Scots (from 1433) contain many administrative and legal terms of Norn origin, and court records (from the early 17c) introduce many originally Norn words, including: galt boar, grind gate, heavie straw basket, row to ‘roo’ or pluck (sheep), spick fat, blubber, voe inlet, voir springtime. See ORKNEY AND SHETLAND DIALECTS, SCANDINAVIAN LANGUAGES.

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Nornadorn, born, borne, bourn, Braun, brawn, corn, dawn, drawn, faun, fawn, forborne, forewarn, forlorn, freeborn, horn, lawn, lorn, morn, mourn, newborn, Norn, outworn, pawn, porn, prawn, Quorn, sawn, scorn, Sean, shorn, spawn, suborn, sworn, thorn, thrawn, torn, Vaughan, warn, withdrawn, worn, yawn •airborne • Ayckbourn • seaborne •Eastbourne • stillborn • highborn •Osborne • winterbourne •waterborne • firstborn • Apeldoorn •althorn • hartshorn • leghorn •greenhorn • bighorn • inkhorn •tinhorn • foghorn • longhorn •shorthorn • shoehorn • Flügelhorn •bullhorn • alpenhorn • Matterhorn •acorn • seedcorn • sweetcorn •barleycorn • unicorn • Capricorn •leprechaun • tricorne • einkorn •popcorn • Runcorn • peppercorn •lovelorn • frogspawn • wire-drawn •wartorn • blackthorn • hawthorn •careworn • time-worn • shopworn •toilworn

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Norns In Germanic mythology, three maidens who spun or wove the fate of both mortals and gods. Their names were Urth (Past), Verthandi (Present) and Skuld (Future).

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Norn female fate in Scand. myth. XVIII. — ON. norn, of unkn. orig.

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