Results 1 to 21 of 21
  1. - claims a Norwegian philologist.

    http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/ir...k-7055551.html

    A quick-and-dirty translation (which should, of course, not be necessary between the closely related Scandinavian languages, but since it's almost <STRIKE>Christmas</STRIKE> yuletide I'll give you until New Year to get used to it )of parts of the article has
    The language that is now called English is actually Scandinavian, says a Norwegian linguist.
    [...]
    What Faarlund and his colleague, Joseph Emmonds a guest professor from Czech Palacky University, now believe that they can prove is that english in reality is a Scandinavian language, that means that it belongs to the Northern Germanic branch of languages with Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese. This is completely new and breaks with what is believed by other linguists and in general, that English is descended from Old English.
    Old English died out
    Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is a West-Germanic language, which the Angles and the Saxons brought from Northern Germany and Southern Jutland when they settled on the British Isles in the 400-years.
    We show that English, such as we know the language today, instead is a direct descendant of the language of the Scandinavians who settled in the British Isles through many hundreds of years before the French-speaking Normans conquered the country in 1066, says Faarlund.
    Remembering all the good fun that I have had in Tolkien fora discussing Scandinaviang linguistics, I am over-thrilled by this idea it doesn't really matter whether it is correct or not, it will in any case be the source of much good fun

    If there's an interest (and a lack of English articles about this news-item) I'll see about a complete translation when I have have a bit more time.
    Last edited by Troelsfo; 10/Dec/2012 at 07:50 PM. Reason: Cleaning up formatting after code transfer
    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

  2. Dincairwen's Avatar
    Mentor of Lothlorien
    Points
    12,240
    Posts
    12,716
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    #2
    I found this by doing a google search:http://www.newsinenglish.no/2012/11/...vian-language/


    Tell me if it's significantly different from the original. My poor English-speaking mind can only make out about 1/3 of the words in the original article.



  3. Well, after working through that with my sub-par Norwegian, I found an English version of the article:http://www.apollon.uio.no/english/articles/2012/4-english-scandinavian.html



    It's an interesting suggestion, and Jaan T. Faarlund is a highly respected linguist who's done quite a lot of good work on the syntax of Old Norse (even writing the standard handbook on the subject, creatively entitled The Syntax of Old Norse) and on the Runic inscriptions (he wrote the article on 'Ancient Nordic', meaning Runic, for the very prestigious Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the World's Ancient Languages). But as far as I can tell, Faarlund and Emmonds haven't published their work in any scholarly detail yet, so it makes it a bit hard to really test their claims.
    But I think there's good reason to be skeptical - and I guess I might as well write out why I think so. This will take a little time though, so apologies in advance for a rather longish post! The basic claim is that modern English is descended from the variety of Old Norse that was brought by 'Danish' invaders (probably many were Danes, but 'Danes' in those days could refer to any Scandinavian) into England in the 800's. These are the guys that Alfred the Great fought against, and the region where they settled in the northern and eastern parts of England is called the Danelaw.
    Now, it's super well known (and has been for at least 200 years) that the Norse in the Danelaw had a profound effect on the English spoken there. It's also well known that the classical dialect of Old English, the West Saxon dialect, is notthe direct forerunner of modern standard English. Rather, dialects from across the midlands blended together to create the English I'm writing in now. Many, though not all, of these varieties definitely came from the Danelaw and show Scandinavian influence, just as Faarlund and Emmonds note. Their new claim is that the 'Danelaw English' was actually a form of Norse, not just Nordicized English, and they allude to or present three types of evidence to support this: vocabulary, morphemes, and syntax.
    Vocabulary is probably the most well established part of Norse influence. It's well known that such basic and common words as egg, get, husband, sister, and dieare borrowings from Old Norse, not to mention a few function words like theirand them. This unambiguously reflects a deep influence of Norse - probably representing a situation where local communities were comprised partly of Old English speakers and partly of Old Norse settlers. The two languages would have been verysimilar at that date, probably still mutually intelligible, making it easy for even very fundamental words and bits of grammarto slide between the two types of speech.
    But it's important to note that for every example Faarlund and Emmonds give, there are counterexamples of definitely English vocabulary surviving as a core element, and in far greater numbers. I, me, you, am, our, and, the, head, wife, daughter, say, think, and the names of the numbers being just a few of the very many basic words which are definitely and clearly English and not Norse in origin. Norse influence on vocabulary is definitely large, but the core vocabulary of (Anglian) English is still awfully dominant for a language that died out
    Another difficulty with their examples has to do with words that were very similar in English and Norse. Words like gift, guest, birth, andskirtwere very similar in in Anglian Old English and in Old Norse. In fact, words with ginstead of y(from palatal spirant )before ior e, or with thin certain positions, or with skinstead of share often assigned to Old Norse on the basis of these phonetic features. But some of these (skfor sh) might just as well have dialect features of northern English without any Scandinavian influence. And in the other cases, it's hard to tell whether we actually have word replacement, or word influence: did native English ᵹestactually get replaced by Norse gest, or was the initial spirant simply hardened under the influence of Old Norse? The Norse influence was there, but often it seems to have rather subtly blended with English rather than simply displacing it.
    This blending is particularly interesting to watch in the case of dream. Faarlund and Emmonds give it as a simple case of a Norse word in English, coming from the Norse word *draumʀ'dream'. The problem is that while the meaning is clearly from Norse (the Old English equivalent, dram, meant 'joy', never 'dream'), the actual form of the word, with the vowels earather than auoro, is unambiguously English. So we seem to have an English sound-form with Norse semantics. I think this one word is an especially nice example of the intimate fusion of the two languages in the Danelaw (though there are some further complexities I've glossed over in these words' further history).
    Morphology is also well known, and some of what Faarlund and Emmonds refer to (this section is very brief in the article, with no examples or data) might be the function words like theirand themwhich I mentioned as part of vocabulary. Again, this attests to an intimate contact between two very similar languages, not to the wholesale replacement of English by Norse. Many native English morphemes, like the adverb ending -ly, the archaic verbal endings -ethand -est(e.g. 'thou goest', 'he goeth'), and the abstract suffix -ness(e.g. 'darkness') provide a small sampling of the many, many Old English (and distinctly non-Norse) grammatical elements preserved in English.
    Syntax is the most interesting part of their claim, and presumably the one where Faarlund (who's a specialist in syntax, after all) and Emmonds feel they have new evidence to bring to the table. I can't really judge based on the examples in the article - they're actually fairly useless. Modern Dutch and German do differ a lot from modern English in terms of syntax, as they show, but this has as much do to changes on the Continent as changes within English. Old English word order might not necessarily have been the same as modern English, but it was hardly the same as modern German either!
    However, Faarlund mustbe aware that the examples in that piece are only useful as a sort of crude illustration, and form no argument whatsoever. He presumably has more detailed evidence arguing for differences between Old (West Saxon) and Middle English, where the latter specifically resembles Old Norse. He might have something compelling, though maybe not. But either way, it doesn't really prove the death of Old English. It would again prove only that English was strongly influenced by Norse. Syntax is, by historical linguists at least, often seen as a fairly malleable and changeable part of language, the sort of thing relatively easily altered by close contact with another language without implying any sort of replacement by that language.
    All in all, this sounds like the kind of claim designed to make headlines. Which is fair enough, and I'm certainly happy for philology to get some press - but on a linguistic level it would take a lotof convincing to get me to take this 'death of Old English' seriously. The long-standing model of close influence of Norse on northern English, which in turn formed one element among several of modern standard English, seems to account for all the facts of vocabulary and morphology, and it seems unlikely that these new syntactic arguments would do anything to challenge this picture.
    For my part, I'm interested to see what Faarlund and Emmonds have to say in terms of the details of possible syntactic influence of Norse on Danelaw English. I have a feeling there is some very interesting material to explore there, even setting aside grand claims about Old English dying out.
    &lt;Simul&gt;

    Edited by: Lord of the Rings
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  4. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
    Old Took
    Points
    7,636
    Posts
    7,492
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    #4


    I wonder if I could make out a case for English as a Romance language. Plenty of vocabulary, and grammatical features e.g. plurals in -s rather than -n ...

    Still, the truth is obvious. Modern English is a dialect of Frisian.






    Edited by: Dorwiniondil
    "I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses."





  5. What you really need to do is argue that English syntax is really French - that's the fashionable kind of argument in today's day and age!
    (I feel vaguely obligated to pedantically mention that, as I'm sure Dorwiniondilknows already,plurals in -s are inherited from Old English, and actually represent another nice non-Norse feature carried over in English. The French plurals might have had something to do with why the -n plurals mostly died out, except in a few words like oxenand children.)

    Edited by: Lord of the Rings
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  6. Sally Thomason has a nice response to Faarlund over on Language Log (easily the most respected linguistics blog around):http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4351



    Thomason concentrates more on the question of whether syntactic similarities between Old English and Old Norse somehow prove Faarlund's claim. (They don't, as frankly Faarlund should have known perfectly well.) But she raises quite a few other good points as well.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  7. And another Language Log post on the subject:http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4355



    This post just points the way to a couple of scholarly articles that have already explored some probable effects that Old Norse had on the syntax of northern English. These articles are models of how to properly investigate the relations between Norse and Old English (unlike the Faarlund and Emmonds piece - though I'll admit that one is a little more accessible!).
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  8. Digging in a little further to Mark Liberman's latest Language Log post, I think a lot of people here might be very interested in the first page he links to: the University of Pennsylvania's Sources for the study of Scandinavian influences on Old and Middle English. The bulk of the page is a series of slides, showing simply but vividly the extent of Norse influence in the North. I particularly liked this slide, showing the distribution of English surnames ending in -son.



    On the paper by Anthony Kroch, Ann Taylor, and Don Ringe that I mentioned last night, they make a very striking observation (albeit one framed in rather technical terminology). Essentially, they point out that there is a difference between Northern and Southern Middle English, with Northern Middle English agreeing in syntax with modern Mainland Scandinavian (their term, referring to the dialect continua encompassing Nrowegian, Swedish, and Danish, but excluding Icelandic and Faroese), and Southern Middle English agreeing with Old English. So far, it sounds like they support Faarlund. But, and this is the interesting part, the authors point out that the Old Norse of that era would have been syntactically like Old English in the relevant respects (verb placement), so the Northern Middle English syntax can't have been a direct borrowing. So the similarity between Northern Middle (and so Modern) English and the Scandinavian languages must have been developed in parallel, but independently, in each place.
    Their argument is a bit more complicated, and they identify the reduction of inflectional endings as a key step in this process. Their claim is then that this reduction happened earlier in the North, because the influx of Norse settlers caused a language simplification. Essentially, if they're right, Modern English and Norwegian/Danish have similar syntax in part because they both no longer have many personal endings on verbs (I go, you go, [exception:he goes], they go; jeg gr, du gr, han gr, vi gr), while German and Icelandic have a different syntax in part because of their more elaborate system of personal endings (ich gehe, du gehst, er geht, wir gehen; g fer, fer, hann fer, vi frum). This is a rather neat explanation, if correct, of how (some of) Faarlund's syntactic similarities would be completely secondary and separate developments in Scandinavia and in England - sharing a common linguistic cause, but playing out independently.
    Aside from their technical syntactic discussion (which is grounded in the rather complex theoretical background of generative syntax), I recommend reading Section 2 of the article ('The historical and sociolinguistic context'), which is very readable, and provides a good background for the whole issue of Norse-English contacts.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  9. Thank you, LotR! There's quite a bit here to dip into and digest



    One question, though has Faarlund and Emmonds published their research in a scholarly article anywhere, or are they still being judged only by the contents of the popular article?
    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...


  10. I do apologise for the deluge of updates - I just find this a particularly fascinating topic!

    They're being judged by the article, which has created quite a splash in the historical-linguistically-minded part of the internet (or, in terms of the internet overall, had no effect whatsoever). This is unfair in a sense, in that they may have more complete arguments that present their case better, but perfectly fair in another sense for going public with such a bold assertion before providing any evidence for it. And most people have tried to be generous, assuming that in their actual research, Faarlund and Emmonds do, for instance, look at the medieval forms of the relevant languages, and have at least some valid syntactic observations to make (though they'll have to contend with some earlier studies, like the one by Kroch, Taylor, and Ringe, which seem to speak against their points as far as we know them).



    The basic theoretical question of whether such syntactic similarities even have the potential to prove what they're claiming is another matter, and that's what's provoked the strongest reaction. Most people feel that their evidence can't matter for their claim, since it's simply not the right kind of evidence to prove it, even if the syntax is just as they say it is. It's this relatively absurd claim that's gotten a lot of linguists a bit snarky (especially come from an otherwise sane linguist like Faarlund). This is another reason I like the Kroch, Taylor, and Ringe article - it shows a very cautious and nuanced approach for how to relate syntactic findings to Norse-English contacts, accounting for the facts without making claims that such evidence could never support.

    Edited by: Lord of the Rings
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  11. Don't apologize it is interesting, and I'm pleased to have the reactions also (Larry Swain has also given a good response on Facebook). I just hope to be able to find the time to look into it all :)
    One of the discussions (http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4351 I've not read every post on split infinitives in Germanic languages ;)) has a link to a paper by one of the two researchers, Joseph Emonds, from a 2010 conference with the title English as a North Germanic Language: From the Norman Conquest to the Present, http://conference.uaa.utb.cz/Theorie...10.pdf#page=13

    That link is posted by one Anders Stallemo, presumably himself Norwegian, and whithout judging the proposition at all, I would agree with Stallemo that the English Apollon article (which seems to be the basis also for theScience Daily article)is not very well translated (I think that particular translation makes the proposition seem rather more outrageous than the Norwegian original).
    Last edited by Troelsfo; 09/Dec/2012 at 02:00 PM.
    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

  12. Thanks for bringing up the comment by Anders Stallemo - unfortunately the URL to Emmonds' paper won't work (at least for me, even though I've looked around for an alternate copy). It is true that the clustered changing of syntactic features (if demonstrable), and assertion that English is an 'amalgam' of Old English and Old Norse would probably be universally accepted (if only because the word 'amalgam' is so vague in this context that anyone can take it to mean what they want it to!).

    But even the 'fact' of 6 or 7 syntactic features changing all at once is, on the face of it, not necessarily a strong argument - though I want to read Emonds' paper in full, not just his abstract. But it's worth remembering that syntactic features are not always independent, and that a change in one area of syntax can drive a change somewhere else. In particular the reduction of case and verbal endings (which might well be in part due to contact with Norse!) would be predicted to have at least some wider implications for the rest of the syntax, without those further changes being directly due to Norse input (i.e. not attributable to any 'amalgamation' of the two languages).

    This aside from the problem of deciding when the syntactic changes took place. Our documentation for Anglian Old English (the northern dialects, basically) is not that great. There's a gap of practically 400 years, during which the Norse incursions took place, where it is very difficult to gather enough data on the natural syntax of the language to have any clear idea of what's going on. What might appear to be a cluster of simultaneous changes could actually be staggered across generation after generation.

    Maybe Emonds addresses that in his work, or maybe Faarlund and Emonds will whenever they publish together (they've given lectures on their collaborative project, but no joint publications yet). These points aren't absolute objections, just the sort of things they'll have to explain (away) to get any sort of acceptance even of the weaker version ('amalgam' in some deep sense, rather than 'influence').
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  13. Olme's Avatar
    Pilgrim of Isengard
    Points
    1,713
    Posts
    759
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    #13
    "Ironically, Faarlund's own scenario is a counterexample to his claim that grammar doesn't get borrowed: if, as he claims, English is a Scandinavian language, how did it get its numerous English structures? "

    Yes, I'm thinking Faarlund should just stick to syntax. I say that with the utmost respect for him. I own his book on Norse Syntax and have seen him at conferences (and obviously he's a bit more accomplished linguist than me), but there are many others who have devoted their academic careers to language contact (this is the first I've heard him writing on the subject), and as has in a way been pointed out, they're not coming to the same conclusions as Faarlund.

    It's a provoking claim that challenges us to rethink the Scandinavian-English contact situation anew, but I don't think it'll hold any water.

    One thing about Thomason's (who has spent much of her career studying language contact (her co-authored work with Kaufman is an absolute standard reference) response though, is that there is a sort of parallel infinitive construction in Dutch and Frisian that uses "te" (where she said there is no such construction). For example the "om te" construction in Dutch. If someone asks you why you put your glasses on, you could respond "Om mijn boek te lezen!" ("To read my book!"). No, it's not the same as it is in English and Scandinavian, but it's there in a way.
    Fantasy is a natural human activity.

  14. I just read Emonds' 2010 paper, and am deeply unimpressed. His sociolinguistic explanations are simplistic, he misrepresents the history of linguistics, he ignores the problems of attestation of Anglian and early Middle English, he greatly exaggerates the traditional evidence for Norse loans, and makes a very great many errors along the way. I do not think he is particularly familiar with either Old or Middle English first hand (e.g. he seems to be under the impression that the OE ge- prefix a) was spelled y-, and b) was obligatory like it is in Modern German). For 'West Germanic' and 'North Germanic' examples, he draws far more on the modern languages than the ancient ones, just like in the interview only here he has no excuse.

    He also makes a huge number of substantive errors in assigning forms to either a Norse or English origin (such as saying that are is a Norse form - it's actually English), aside from over-generalizations so gross as to be misrepresentations (such as not mentioning various bits of verbal morphology, like OE -est, that survive in Middle English). Again, I think his apparent lack of familiarity with the languages whose history he is attempting to revolutionize plays a large role.

    When he finally gets to his six syntactic points (basically the ones mentioned in the interview), only one of his seven examples are genuinely compelling; another could be interesting, but was the topic of the Kroch, Taylor, and Ringe article I mentioned above, and he doesn't even reference their arguments, much less refute them; three others are possible, but harder to establish; and two are demonstrably wrong (where Middle English actually agrees with Old English, and its only Modern English that's changed). And anyway, despite his repeated claims to the contrary, even if all seven examples were genuine it wouldn't make Middle English a North Germanic language.

    The interview with Apollon gives no hint that Emonds and Faarlund have anything more to bring to bear beyond what's in Emonds' article. It's unfortunate that Faarlund has gotten caught up in this. Like Olme, I also have his book on Norse syntax within arm's reach, and he's also done some useful runological work as well. Oh well.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  15. Thank you both!

    If Faarlund has been trying to use Tolkienian tactics, he seems to have been far less successful at it than Tolkien. At least it seems that there is currently not even a movement towards reconsidering how great an influence Old Norse has had on English (Middle and modern), so even if this was what he aimed for, it would seem that he has, at least so far, been unsuccessful.

    By this I mean Tolkien's use of rhetorical exaggeration of overstating his position in order to get some acceptance of it (a tactics that we have seen both Tom Shippey and Michael Drout argue that Tolkien not only used, but also was even more successful at than he really wished) .
    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

  16. If Faarlund has been trying to use Tolkienian tactics, he seems to have been far less successful at it than Tolkien.

    Just to be clear, the paper I'm rather harshly (though I think fairly) criticizing is authored by Joseph Emonds alone, before Faarlund began collaborating with him on this (at least, Faarlund is not mentioned in the acknowledgements). And Emonds himself is a respected syntactician, and presumably quite capable in his home field of modern English syntax. His 2010 article is in a volume of conference proceedings, where he was one of the two keynote speakers. He is MIT educated, and has published prolifically on many of the debates in mainstream generative syntax. He has also published occasionally on the history of English and Germanic (he has at least one article on Grimms Law, and another on Chaucer's grammar). I don't mean to denigrate him either as a scholar or as an individual.

    Doesn't make the argument in his paper any better, but I just wanted to make it clear that the ad hominem perspective is irrelevant here, in either a positive or negative way.

    At least it seems that there is currently not even a movement towards reconsidering how great an influence Old Norse has had on English (Middle and modern)

    Depends on what you mean by a movement, I suppose. This has been a topic of pretty constant interest for at least 200 years, and I see no sign of it abating. Certainly there are plenty of articles from the 1980's and 1990's discussing the nature and consequences of this linguistic contact, and as historical sociolinguistics (with its inherent interest in contact phenomena) continues to develop, interest in this topic will probably only grow. Emonds (and Faarlund) are not taking up a neglected topic by any means! Whether their research will end up stimulating useful responses or simply get forgotten (or, I suppose, become adopted as the mainstream hypothesis), the general area of investigation has been and most likely will remain quite vigorous. Which is a good thing, since there's certainly more work to be done.
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 11/Dec/2012 at 02:32 PM.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  17. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
    Old Took
    Points
    7,636
    Posts
    7,492
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    #17
    The Economist has got in on the act - here:
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/johns...nguage-history
    "I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses."

  18. End a sentence in a preposition, and there are still people who will think you a boor. If you're feeling cheeky, tell them "No, I'm just a Viking." It may not be true, but it's at least as true as the idea that you can't end a sentence in a preposition.



    That was a very entertaining piece - thanks for sharing!

    (One minor error on his article from last week that he links to: she is definitely not a Scandinavian loan, though some particulars of its development are plausibly due to Norse influence.)
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 11/Dec/2012 at 10:30 PM. Reason: Added comment about 'she'.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  19. Olme's Avatar
    Pilgrim of Isengard
    Points
    1,713
    Posts
    759
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    #19
    Just another note on their selective examples.

    In the article, the Aftenposten one, one of the bits of evidence that they give is that both English and Scandinavian can end a sentence in a preposition, but German and Dutch can't. Well again, Dutch can.

    For example, the sentence "I got on the bus" could be put:

    Norwegian: "Jeg steg p bussen"
    Dutch: "Ik stap de bus in"

    I suppose we can quit destroying this argument now huh? Well, it is fun I guess. Mainly because I just still can't believe they made that argument.
    Fantasy is a natural human activity.

  20. Actually in the 2010 article Emonds is a bit clearer about what he means - he's not talking about having a 'preposition' end up at the end of a sentence period, but about the syntactic phenomenon of 'preposition stranding'. A lot of the German and Dutch examples would be explained (away?) as being preverbal particles rather than true prepositions. This would occur when you have a prepositional phrase at the end of a sentence, but some syntactic process like passivization, clefting, or forming a wh-question 'moves' (these guys are hardcore generativists) the object away. Examples being:

    He sat on the chair.
    ~ The chair was sat on. (Passive)
    ~ It was the chair that he sat on. (Cleft)
    ~ What did he sit on? (WH-Question)

    These constructions are all claimed (by Faarlund and Emonds) to be systematically closer to the Scandinavian languages than to German or Dutch. There are clearly differences with the other other West Germanic languages, and I can't really comment on modern Norwegian or Danish. But English is definitely different from Old Norse in at least some of the classic cases of preposition stranding: Faarlund himself says about questions that 'Preposition stranding does not seem to occur in interrogative sentences', so that an English preposition-final phrase like who is the story about is preposition-initial in Old Norse as frá hverjum er saga (Faarlund, The Syntax of Old Norse, s. 9.6.2, p. 227). It's an interesting question how English borrowed a syntactic feature from a language that hadn't developed it yet . . .

    Anyway, they do actually mean something more specific than any preposition (or particle) ending up at the end. They still might not have a good analysis, though!

    Same for the infinitive use - they're not claiming that the infinitive marker as such is due to Norse influence (after all, the word to continues OE tó in 'inflected infinitives' like tó lufienne 'to love'), but that the ability to 'split' this infinitive (that is, to put other words between the infinitive marker and the verb itself, e.g. to boldly go where no man has gone before) is derived from Norse. Now here Norse actually can do that (at least sometimes - phrases like at eigi hafa occur, anyway), but the article that Dorwiniondil linked to points out that English only started using split infinitives with any great frequency in the 19th century. Maybe the occasional uses in Middle and Early Modern English had some input from Norse, but this is basically a syntactic development within the documented history of English itself.

    Stranded prepositions, split infinitives, and the word order issue discussed by Kroch, Taylor, and Ringe form the first three of Emonds' seven syntactic arguments, and they're all obviously problematic. He has some better points, like the loss of the ᵹe- prefix on past participles - once you adjust for Emonds' substantial errors in characterizing this, it is true that Southern Middle English maintained the prefix much longer than Norther Middle English, which is plausibly due to Scandinavian influence (Old Norse having lost its version of that prefix probably shortly before the period of the Danelaw). But this is hardly a feature of deep syntax, and loss of a feature is not quite the same as borrowing something.

    Anyway, like Olme says, perhaps we should stop picking apart their argument at this point - though I could definitely go on!
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  21. Larry Swain has also been through the 2010 paper and picks the argument apart fairly thoroughly on his blog: http://theruminate.blogspot.dk/2013/...-germanic.html

    It was just one of those ideas that were too much fun to merely pass over without comment

    - now, however, it seems fairly thoroughly put to rest. Thank you for joining the fun
    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •