LINGUIST List 15.1981

Fri Jul 2 2004

Diss: Historical Ling: �skarsson: 'M...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. veturosk, Middelnedertyske laneord i islandsk diplomsprog...

Message 1: Middelnedertyske laneord i islandsk diplomsprog...

Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2004 08:39:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: veturosk <>
Subject: Middelnedertyske laneord i islandsk diplomsprog...

Institution: Uppsala University
Program: Department of Scandinavian Languages
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Veturli�i Gunnar �skarsson

Dissertation Title: Middelnedertyske l�neord i islandsk diplomsprog
frem til �r 1500

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics, Lexicography 

Subject Language: Icelandic (code: ICE)

Subject Language Family: Germanic (code:)

Dissertation Director 1: Lennart Elmevik

Dissertation Abstract:

The main aim of this dissertation is to examine and throw light on
occurrences and use of loanwords of Middle Low German (MLG) origin
in Icelandic deeds of the period c. 1200-1500, and at the same time
to test my hypothesis that the MLG influence on the Nordic languages
in Scandinavia reached Iceland by the first half of the 14th
century, i.e. earlier than is often supposed.

For this purpose all Icelandic deeds and letters (conveyance
contracts, bills of sale, receipts, marriage settlements, wills etc.),
as well as lists of inventory in Icelandic churches and convents and a
few other texts from the period c. 1200-1500, have been investigated
for instances of loanwords. The result is 1,150-1,200 words and
word-forms, of which over 600 (c. 310 stems) originate from or have
been conveyed through MLG, or are formed from MLG words. The
investigation has been as encompassing as possible. Altogether about
2,600-2,800 word-instances were recorded.

The study only partly confirms the above mentioned working
hypothesis. Certainly, a number of words from MLG appear already early
in the 14th century, and a few in deeds and other documents dated to
the 13th century. Most of those words are, however, not fully
representative of the actual influence of the language of the German
Hansa-merchants. The oldest examples are from statutes of bishops and
archbishops from about 1270 and onwards. In lists of inventory, MLG
words begin to appear early in the 14th century. In deeds, letters and
other documents such words appear sporadically also in the early 14th
century, but do not become frequent until in the late second half of
the century and in the 15th century. MLG words in the statutes are to
a high degree ecclesiastical-religious (abstract); in lists of
inventory they are to a high degree ecclesiastical-terminological
(concrete); in other documents they are to a high degree secular
(abstract and concrete) and have much to do with administration,
commerce, negotiation etc. The words almost always enter present word
classes in Icelandic, they are given Icelandic inflectional endings,
and uncertainty as to which gender they take is very rare. New affixes
are few, and they occasionally merge with domestic ones. Phonological
and phonotactic changes seem to be minimal.

Parallels to the main part of the Icelandic words are found in Old and
Middle Norwegian, as well as in Old Danish, Older Modern Danish and
Old Swedish. The main part of the Norwegian parallel examples are
found in Norwegian deeds, charters and other official or semi-official

Many of the words are also found in other Old Icelandic texts, mainly
in sagas of bishops, chivalric literature and different ecclesiastical
and semi-ecclesiastical texts. Most of those are no doubt from the
14th century, but some are older, even from the early 13th century, or
maybe with roots even in the 12th century. Those last mentioned often
exist only or partially in altered and revised versions of uncertain
age, so examples of MLG words in them can not without reservation be
taken as evidence of great age and originality in the text in

The words are without doubt predominantly borrowed through Norwegian
and, from the end of the 14th century, from Danish.
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