Richard Dance (St Catharine’s College, Cambridge) - ‘Tomarzan hit is awane’: Words derived from Old Norse in four Lambeth Homilies 77
‘Tomaran hit is awane’: Words derived from Old Norse in four Lambeth Homilies Richard Dance, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge ABSTRACT This paper investigates some issues connected with the medieval English lexical material that scholars have derived from the early Scandinavian languages, focusing on four texts copied c. 1200. The twelfth century is an important period in the history of the ‘Norse-derived’ element in the English vocabulary, when a number of important words are first securely attested. But the textual witnesses have been relatively underexplored from this point of view, especially when it comes to copies of works other than the major ‘new’ (East Midland) compositions. As recent work on the textual culture of the period has demonstrated, there is a wealth of other extant manuscripts containing English writings; and these manuscripts, often featuring what have previously been dismissed as ‘late’ or ‘corrupt’ copies of Old English material, stand to make a significant contribution to our conception of how the English language developed, including how Norse- derived vocabulary was adopted beyond the area of ‘the Danelaw’. My main focus in this paper is upon four of the homilies in London, Lambeth Palace Library 487, specifically those pieces which contain reworked pre-Conquest textual material, and whose Norse-derived lexis has not been analysed in detail before. The identification of these lexical items poses numerous challenges; I present them in the light of an experimental typology for the labelling of words purportedly originating in or influenced by the Scandinavian languages, which aims to bring...
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