AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Doublets. A Study of Old Norse Influence on English Vocabulary

by Arna Rún Sesarsdóttir 1983

Institution: University of Iceland
Year: 2015
Keywords: Enska
Record ID: 1221045
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/21183


Considerable remnants of Scandinavian settlers are to be found in England, not in terms of ruins or such material, but in the English language. The English vocabulary is made up of an estimated 70 percent loanwords from several languages and despite not knowing exactly how many of these words are of Scandinavian origin, it is safe to say that the number is substantial as many of them are in the everyday vocabulary of the English. This means that Scandinavian, or Old Norse, had great influence on the evolution of the English language, and that relationship will be studied to an extent focusing on loanwords and doublets, although the latter will be main subject of this thesis. Loanwords in a language are words of a foreign origin which have been inserted in the language borrowing the word and adapted to its grammar rules. Doublets are word pairs, often of a different origin, standing side by side, co-existing in modern vocabulary. Usually one of the two words has entered the language as a loanword from a different language, in this case Old Norse, whilst the other is a native word. The main focus of this essay were the doublets and what the differences within the pairs are and the plausible reason for these differences. The findings of the study here are that the words which make up each doublet pair do not always have the same ancestor, in which case it is quite difficult to understand how the words formed into a doublet. The categorisation of the doublets may shed a light on the reason for the pairings, as there are five different groups of doublets; morphological, lexical, cognate, etymological and semantic.