A relevance theory approach to the Scandinavian influence upon the development of the English language

María Ángeles Ruiz Moneva

Abstract

The Scandinavians were one of the peoples whose stay in England was to affect the development of the English language in several and crucial ways. The impact of the Scandinavian language upon English, which may be studied from the perspective of the area of historical linguistics and language contact, was to be felt during the earliest stages of the development of the language, namely, the periods corresponding to Old and Middle English. However, the influence of Scandinavian upon English was not of the same nature in either of the above mentioned periods of the language. On the whole, it is admitted that whereas during the Old English period the influence may be reduced in general terms to the extra linguistic factors, its effects were to be felt more directly upon the language during the Middle English period. To give just an example, this is the case of the double system of declensions for the personal and possessive pronouns that can be found in Middle English, according to the different parts or regions of England. The aim of this paper will be to focus upon the areas in which the Scandinavian language influenced the subsequent development of the English language. Such impact was not only restricted to phonetics or semantics, but also influenced a field such as grammar. More concretely, those aspects in which the Scandinavian language has been most influential in the subsequent history of the English language will be analysed. The approach that will be followed is that of relevance theory, so as to show the ways in which the communicative balance between processing efforts and communicative effects may have caused certain phenomena under study.

Keywords

Préstamos léxicos; Teoría de la relevancia; Lenguas en contacto; Lenguas escandinavas; Lengua inglesa



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.1997.10.13