Various contributions have been made towards the development of the English Language. The development has been a process and has taken quite a long time, and still, continues up to date. There are three stages in this development; however, this work is concentrated on the initial stage in the development of the English language. In this research, I have considered the impacts of the Vikings and Anglo Saxons. A brief history of the Vikings and Anglo Saxons as well as their contribution towards the modern English language has been covered at length.
The contribution of the Vikings and Anglo Saxons in the development of modern English language is so great. The main objective of this study is to identify the contributions of the Vikings and the Anglo Saxons towards the development of English Language.
In attempting to meet the above objective, this work reviews the history of the Vikings and Anglo Saxons, and their modes of communication. It also covers the contributions of these groups, depending on the dialects and words borrowed.
Major emphasis is laid on the pronouns and verbs.
The old English, formally known as the Anglo-Saxon, was established at around 450 AD to 1100 AD when the Anglo Saxons started to settle in Britain (Blake 1996). The Anglo Saxons included the Angels, Saxons, Frisians and the Jutes who moved to Britain after the Roman occupation. During this period, the Viking was a term used to refer to raiding. The raiders or the Viking were from the north and recognized themselves depending on the areas they originated from. They included the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians (Baugh and Cable 92). This period forms the first stage in the development of the English language. The second stage was established at around 1100 AD to 1500 AD and the final stage dates from about 1500 AD to date. English language historians view Vikings language positively as a great contribution towards the development of modern English language.
This old English was spoken by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and the Frisians of the current Northern Germany and Southern Denmark who migrated to Britain and drove away the Britons to the west and north (Thomas and John 1992). Regional dialects then developed. These dialects included the Kentish for the Jutes, West Saxon for a branch of the Saxon, Northumbrian and Mercian spoken by Angles. The first ruler of all England and the King of West Saxon, King Alfred, ensured that West Saxon was prevalent in prose literature by ninth century. The greatest part of poetry used a Mercian mixed dialect like the contemporary elegiac poems.
The old English was characterized by verbs that were weak and strong; there were more than one number of pronouns indicating dualism, adjectives had various different declensions; nouns had four different declensions; and different distinctions of gender. Old English had limited vocabulary but was very wealthy in world building.
The Vikings contribution in the old English was also substantial. The Vikings, also known as the Norsemen, introduced about forty Old Norse words (Scandinavian words) into the Old English. These words included: law, are, and cut, take, ugly, ill, and take. These words were derived mainly from the sea battle (Peter 2001).
It is quite uncommon for a language to borrow grammatical words from other languages. However, old English had a lot of borrowings from the Viking language. For instance, the plural of the third person pronouns was borrowed and formed the singular of the third person pronouns in old English. This similarity also extends in the modern English. However, there is rear borrowing of pronouns by the modern English. The reason for this was the confusion in identifying the similar singular and plural forms experienced by Viking invaders hearing and speaking Old English (Baugh and Cable 102).
Old English borrowed various forms of verbs from the Vikings. The borrowings included the plural form of the verb “to be” in Wessex (which was the most powerful kingdom in the Anglo-Saxon during the Viking invasion) which was syndon (Baugh and Cable 102). The present plural and second person singular are is also of Scandinavian origin (Baugh and Cable 102).
Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable (2002) A History of the English Language. 5th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. In this book, Albert and Thomas have explained a vivid history of the English language with emphasis on the contributions of the different groups including the Vikings and the Anglo Saxons.
Blake, N.F (1996). A History of the English Language. Palgrave Macmillan, Blake is an eminent historical linguist. In this book he has given an accessible and modern discussion of the growth of English.
Thomas Pyles and John Algeo (1992). The Origins and Development of the English Language. Thomas Learning. This book is organized into several sections that give a comprehensive guide to the evolution of English.
Peter Sawyer (2001). The Oxford Illustrated History of the Viking. Oxford University Press. Peter Sawyer has given a brilliant and interactive discussion of the lives and activities of the Vikings.