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2. Historical Background
3. The Ormulum
4. Ormulum's Text as Evidence for Language Change
4.1. Non- Syntactic Analysis
4.1.1 Lexis - Expansion of the Early Middle English Lexicon
4.1.2. Phonology - Different Pronunciations
4.2. Syntactic Analysis: Syntax
4.2.1. New Grammatical Items
4.2.2. Word Order Variation in the Ormulum
"We will see that this text not only shows non-syntactic evidence of Scandinavian influence but also syntactic patterns which are only found in the Scandinavian languages. Therefore, the investigation of the Ormulum will shed new light on the question how intensive the contact situation was between the Scandinavian invaders and the English natives during the big invasion between the eighth and eleventh century." (Trips, 2002:14)
- The Ormulum's Writing as Evidence for Language Change of Syntactic and Non- Syntactic Phenomena-
The Early Middle English is regarded as a transitional period. Noteworthy occurrences happened at that time, however in this term paper we will focus on the Scandinavian language, which had its huge impact on English. More precisely, we will deal with a specific sort of an Early Middle English text, known as the “Ormulum” and analyse there in syntactic and non- syntactic evidence for language change. As Trips says,
[w]e will see that this text1 not only shows non-syntactic evidence of Scandinavian influence but also syntactic patterns which are only found in the Scandinavian languages. Therefore, the investigation of the Ormulum will shed new light on the question how intensive the contact situation was between the Scandinavian invaders and the English natives during the big invasion between the eighth and eleventh century." (Trips, 2002:14)
Thus, our aim is to find syntactic and non- syntactic evidence for language change due to language contact between the Scandinavian in Early Middle English. The Ormulum's writing will serve as the main source of evidence.
The paper starts with the historical background of Old English, continues with the introduction of the Ormulum and proceeds with the main part. The main part is divided into two larger sections. One of them deals with the analysis of nonsyntactic phenomena in linguistic disciplines like lexis and phonology whereas the other part analyses formal phenomena such as the syntax. The latter is also divided into two parts; on the one hand, the new grammatical items and on the other hand, the various word orders in the Ormulum text. The paper ends with a conclusion and summary of all results.
The Old English period can be considered as the period of time between 450 - 1150, in which remarkable historical events took place. In this period, a lot of historical changes happened due to language contact. Therefore, we will list the noteworthy language contact situations in this period.
Firstly, one might mention the Celtic impact on English, being very little and Celtic words hardly remaining in common use.
Secondly, the Latin influence is also notable to mention, because by this way, Christianity was introduced to England. With Christianity came also literacy, because religious manuscripts were brought in from Rome and the bible was copied and translated from Latin into the native dialects across the country (Lowe 1998:18).
Thirdly, at the end of the Old English period another important language contact situation followed: the contact with the Scandinavian. This period of time is called "The Viking Age". The Vikings2 began a series of attacks on all the lands adjacent to the North Sea and the Baltic. The reason for that invasion, according to Albert Baugh et al. (2002), is possibly economic or political. Their adventurous exhibition began in plunder and ended in conquest. Norwegians colonised parts of the British Isles, the Faroes, and Iceland, Sweden established a new kingdom in Russia and the Danes conquered England by finding the dukedom of Normandy. The climax of their invasions was reached at the beginning of the 11th century when the king of Denmark, Cnut, obtained the throne of England. He then conquered Norway and from his seat of monarchy in England, he ruled the greater part of the Scandinavian world (Barber et al. 2009:137).
In the Scandinavian invasion of England three well-marked stages can be distinguished (Baugh et al. 2002:92). The first one is the period of early raids, beginning in 787. Towns and monasteries were plundered and attacked near the coast, all kinds of valuable things like gold, silver, and jewelled shrines were carried off the island and English people were captured to be made slaves. Two remarkable attacks to monasteries, one of Lindisfarne (793) and the other one of Jarrow (794), apparently, ceased the attacks for forty years, but they started again in 834 along the southern coast and in East Anglia.
The second stage is the work of armies. This stage is well-known for its widespread plundering in all parts of the country. At the time of 850, the date recorded the arrival of 350 Danish ships up to the river Thames. Soon after, important territories like Canterbury and London were conquered. In 866 a large Danish army attacked East Anglia and captured York in 867. Bit by bit, the eastern part of England was conquered by the Danes. Then, the attention of the Vikings turned to Wessex. The assault upon Wessex began shortly before King Alfred became king. After he had offered resistance for seven years and proven insufficient to withstand the repeated attacks of the Vikings', king Alfred was forced to take refuge with a small troop of followers to Somerset. After a while, king Alfred suddenly attacked the Danish army under Guthrum at Ethandun with a conscription of troops from Somerset, Wiltshire, and Hampshire. The result was an overwhelming victory for king Alfred and a capitulation by the Danes in 878.
However, Wessex was saved and the Danes withdrew from Alfred's territory, they were not compelled to leave England and settled them down in Danelaw3. The third stage is known as the period of political adjustment and assimilation from 878 to 1042. A notable incident is recorded in 937: the battle of Brunanburgh. Under kind Alfred's son Edward the Elder and grandson Athelstan, the English began a series of counterattacks that put the Danes on the defensive. One of the counterattacks was the one in Brunanburgh, which ended with Athelstan's triumph and victory for the English. By the middle of the century, the English had regained power and ruled over a large part of eastern England until a new invasion began. In 991, a new Viking fleet under the command of Olaf Tryggvason attacked and plundered various towns along the southeast coast of England and the English were defeated again. Three years later (994) Olaf Tryggvason became king of Norway. After Svein, king of Denmark, had joined Olaf, both of them planned a new attack on London. Eventually, Svein, supported by his son Cnut, was determined to make himself king of the country after he had various victories in different parts of England and after he had driven Æthelred, the English king, into exile. Finally, Cnut claimed the throne after his father's death and England was reigned for the next twenty-five years by Danish kings.
Now, we would like to segue from the historical background into the main part; the Ormulum. Most typical for the Middle English period is the OV/ VO word order change, which is assumed to be triggered by language contact with the Scandinavian language. So there is evidence for Scandinavian influence from the Ormulum, which is shown below. Therefore, in the following, we will point out the Scandinavian impact in the Ormulum text (Trips 2003:457).
The Ormulum is a very important source of information, a work of biblical exegesis and about the state of the language. The text was written by a monk, called Orm,
who lived in Lincolnshire and wrote it in an East Midland dialect of English. The outlay of the Holy Book consists of just under 19,000 lines of Early Middle English verse. Orm's intention was to teach Christianity to the English speaking people and therefore his text was meant to be read aloud. The monk also had his own spelling system, in which he helped the reader to pronounce the words correctly. In that way, he could let distinguish readers and listeners the difference between long and short vowels since they mark differences in the meaning of words. Therefore, he established a rule in which he referred to open and closed syllables. If a syllable ends with a consonant, than it is called a closed syllable and if it ends with a vowel, it is considered as an open one. So he marked the long vowels with a single final consonant letter, and short vowels with a double final letter. Moreover, Orm's system of double consonant letters cannot be applied to open syllables, because there is no final consonant to be doubled. Therefore, open syllables may be either long or short vowels in Orm's spelling and are unmarked (Freeborn 2006:96).
1 i.e. the Ormulum
2 the terminology viking is often thought to be derived from Old Norse (ON), the Vikings' language, vīk [=one who came out from, or frequented, inlets of the sea], but it is also possible that it had been derived from Old English (OE) wīc [=the formation of temporary encampments being a prominent feature of viking raids].
3 Danelaw is a territory in which the Danish law was dominant.
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