I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Speak Viking!

Turn on the TV, and chances are, you’ll see a Viking or two—at least in commercials for the Vikings miniseries on the History Channel.
Contemporary representation from 9th or 10th century
I’m 1/8th Danish, so I’ve always wondered if I have a bit of Viking in me. Actually, some of the other 7/8ths may be Viking, too, considering how many Nordic invaders assimilated into England.

Perhaps because Scandinavian resources were stretched, many Nordic seafarers settled in lands they’d previously invaded. It turns out, they didn’t just incorporate themselves into their new cultures: they also influenced them.

English is a Germanic language, but you might be surprised by how many loanwords we’ve inherited from Old Norse.

Such basic verbs as are, talk, get, guess, give, die, tip, wag, scowl, rap, box, blab, jabber, irk, slaughter, ransack, and rock (as in rock a cradle) are all from Old Norse. 

Here are a few more vocabulary words that came with the Vikings:

  • anger
  • bairn (child)
  • big
  • bug
  • cake
  • egg (as in to “egg someone on”)
  • fellow
  • fog
  • flush (to blush)
  • guest
  • hell (Hel is the ruler of the underworld in Norse mythology)
  • husband
  • ken (to know)
  • low, lowly
  • rape (ick--little wonder this word was associated with Viking raids.)
  • skull
  • sky
  • Thursday (Thor's Day. Friday is possibly Old Norse, too, for the goddess Freja, but it could also be Old English, honoring the goddess Frigg. Most of the days of the week honor pagan gods.)
  • wicker
  • Yule (jul, a winter feast, and the origin of the Yule log)

There are dozens more. Are you surprised by any of these words? Do you find etymology interesting?

* {{PD-1923}} – published before 1923 and public domain in the US.


Karen Lange said...

I am surprised at some of these words. You learn something new everyday! Thanks for sharing this! :)

Susanne Dietze said...

It's kind of interesting, isn't it? I took a college course in History of the English Language and was startled by how many cultures English has borrowed from. So many of these words are everyday words, like sky.

I'm so glad you could visit, Karen!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Susanne -

I popped over here from Karen Lange's blog. Lovely decor and interesting posts. I've signed up as a Follower.

Susan :)

Susanne Dietze said...

Hi Susan! Thanks so much for coming by. I'm glad you like the decor; Lisa Karon Richardson created the lovely banner and backdrop!

I've followed your blog, too. Blessings!

Angela Breidenbach said...

I'm 1/4 Swedish. My grandma taught me to speak a little Swedish in her kitchen in my teens. I was surprised then about how many were "English", lol. I was able to watch Swedish movies and mostly understand them. I wish I could now, but it's been about 30+ years.