diapasoun: (reading and researching)
[personal profile] diapasoun
So, I am a language nerd. I mean, I'm a professional linguist---I'm pretty much guaranteed to be a language nerd. So posts like English or Engelsk?, over on Language Log, are incredibly fun for me.

The post deals with the murky history of English, which is quite murky indeed. Here in the US, I would say that many people know that there are a lot of borrowings into English from Latin; many educated people also know about the large number of Norman borrowings. Relatively few USians, though, are aware of the large Norse influence on English. We're not very big on teaching the Danelaw over here; at most, maybe it gets mentioned if you discuss Beowulf in English class. The whole LL post is about the relation of English to Norse, and so is about language contact and change in particular cultural situations, in this case the Danelaw.

The claim that they discuss is one in a recent paper by Norwegian linguist Jan Terje Faarlund: English is actually a Scandinavian language. If you know anything about the Scandinavian languages, it's not as silly as it sounds upfront. English is immensely syntactically similar to the Scandinavian languages (i.e., its sentence structure is very similar), it's morphologically similar (i.e., its system of word endings is similar), and it has a lot of lexical overlap. English and the Scandinavian languages are in some sense the strange red-headed stepchildren of the Germanic language family: Guys, they're weird.

What the post does is nicely debunk the hypothesis. The discussion in the comments is also worth reading---especially if you've ever really wondered what an "infinitive" is.

I'll remove my nerd cap now, but before I do, please allow me one little squee of happiness for fun!linguistics.
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