Saturday, March 14, 2020

30+ Old Norse Words You Already Know

30+ Old Norse Words You Already Know 30+ Old Norse Words You Already Know 30+ Old Norse Words You Already Know By Michael Probably youve never studied Conversational Viking, let alone claimed to speak it. But the language of the Vikings, Old Norse, has influenced the development of English more than any other language besides French and Latin. The Swedes, Norwegians, Icelanders, and Danes all spoke Old Norse in those days, usually called the Danish tongue. In the 11th century, Old Norse was the most widely spoken European language, ranging west with Leif Ericksons colony of Vinland in modern-day Canada, east with the Viking settlers on the Volga River in modern-day Russia, and south with warriors battling in modern-day Spain, Italy and North Africa. Four centuries after the Anglo-Saxons began emigrating from northern Europe, Danish Vikings began raiding Britain and had begun settling down by the year 876, plowing the land. The 14 shires dominated by Danish law in northern and eastern England were called the Danelaw. In 1016, King Canute the Great became ruler of all England, even before he became king of his native Denmark. Danish kings ruled England almost until William the Conquerer sailed from Normandy, France and became the first Norman king of England in 1066. When he did, more Norse words entered English. What did William the Conquerer have to do with the Vikings? Because Normandy means land of the north men, colonized by people such as Williams ancestor Rollo, whose real name was Hrà ³lfr. See a pattern? Today Old Norse words are most common in the Yorkshire dialect, but the Danelaw included the East Midlands, York, Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, Northampton, Huntingdon, Bedford, Hertford, Middlesex and Buckingham. Old Norse words used in modern English When it comes to English words for which we are indebted to Old Norse, lets start with they, their and them. Its true. If it werent for the Vikings, we might still be using the Old English words hà ®e, heora and him instead. Or maybe not when him and them mean the same thing in a language, you know its time for a change. In fact, English received many really, really common words from Old Norse, such as give, take, get, and both. And sale, cake, egg, husband, fellow, sister, root, rag, loose, raise, rugged, odd, plough, freckle, call, flat, hale, ugly, and lake. Another Old English word that was quickly replaced was the very short word à ¦, which meant law. Today we use a longer and less ambiguously-spelled Old Norse word: law. Many English words that begin with sk or sc came from Old Norse, such as skin, sky, score, scant, scrub, scathe, and skill. Old Norse words that feature two-letter blends and a high consonant-to-vowel ratio just sound Viking to me, especially if you pronounce both letters as the Vikings originally did: knife, snare, snub, wrong, bread, dwell, bask, dream, steak, stammer, and especially thwart. Old Norse words that meant something slightly different English word, with original Old Norse meaning anger trouble, affliction, which can make a person angry bait snack, food eaten at work. Now means food used to catch fish, wild animals, and susceptible people. bask similar to the Old Norse word meaning â€Å"to bathe† berserk either from bear-shirt (frenzied warriors wearing a bearskin shirt) or bare-shirt (frenzied warriors wearing no shirt) blunder to shut one’s eyes; to stumble about blindly bulk partition; cargo, as in the nautical term bulkhead crawl to claw. Crawling up a steep slope may require clawing. dirt excrement. Appropriately so. gang any group of men, as in modern Danish, not necessarily dangerous gawk to heed, as in paying too much attention gift dowry, a kind of wedding gift. In modern Danish, gift means wedding. haggle to chop. It amuses me to imagine how this word came to mean vigorous bargaining. hap, happy chance, good luck, fate. Apparently the Vikings didnt believe that happiness is a choice. lake to play, which is what many people do at a lake. A famous Danish toy manufacturer is called Lego. litmus from the Old Norse words litr (dye) and mosi (moss), used as a chemical test for acidity and alkalinity. muck cow dung. An English dairy farmer may say he needs to muck out, or clean, his barn. muggy drizzle, mist. Today it means severely humid. rive to scratch, plow, tear. A poet might write about his heart being riven in two. scathe to hurt, injure. Only the opposite word, unscathed, is common. Gang members never say, You come near me, Im gonna scathe you. seem to conform. Think about that for a while. skill distinction. If you are skilled, you might earn distinction. sleuth trail. The sleuth is always on the trail for clues. snub to curse. When youre snubbed or ignored, you might feel cursed. sprint to jump up, one of the keys to winning in a sprint. stain to paint. Not the same thing at your paint store. stammer to hinder; to dam up, as in a flow of words steak to fry. Could the Vikings have introduced chicken fried steak to the American South? No. thrift prosperity. If you have thrift, perhaps prosperity will follow. thwart across, which has kept a similar meaning for sailors window wind-eye or in Old Norse, vindauga. A treasure of a word. Old English words that meant something different before the Vikings bread In Old English, bread meant â€Å"bit, piece, morsel† but in Old Norse, bread meant bread. We get our word loaf from the Old English word for bread which it replaced. die Before the Vikings, die meant starve dream Before the Vikings, dream meant â€Å"joy, mirth, noisy merriment, even music. dwell Before the Vikings, dwell meant both â€Å"go astray and tarry. Im still trying to figure that one out. Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily! Keep learning! Browse the Vocabulary category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:How to Punctuate References to Dates and Times10 Techniques for More Precise WritingHow to Send Tactful Emails from a Technical Support Desk

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