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Language Contact and Vocabulary Enrichment

Scandinavian Elements in Middle English


Isabel Moskowich

The Scandinavian presence all over Europe during the so-called Viking Age is well documented and England is not an exception. However, the influence of their language on the development of English has not always been well interpreted. This volume aims at deciphering the reality behind the legend of a raiding heathen nation. By resorting to the evidence provided by language, the book explores and tries to reconstruct the social networks formed by both the English and Scandinavians. Their relations, needs and lives are inextricably intermingled with the hybrid tongue they adapted for communication and which has largely come down to us in what we know as English.


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Chapter Three: The sociolinguistic perspective and related studies


Chapter Three The sociolinguistic perspective and related studies 1. Introduction Once the socio-historical basics have been presented it is necessary to look at the main sociolinguistic models available before applying the one or more of them to the analysis of the linguistic situation of mediaeval Britain. Although very briefly, we must also consider certain concepts that are inevitably in- volved in a study of this kind, such as language change, lexical borrowing (some reference to lexico-semantic studies cannot be avoided) as well as pidgins and creoles. A reference to historical sociolinguistics in general and to the contribution of some authors in particular will be also found in what follows. I will also try to define several key concepts here, although they have all been repeatedly mentioned in the literature, including speech community, bi- lingualism and diglossia. All will be dealt with here in order to provide a clear portrait of a situation that has been unique in the development of the English language. 2. Three fundamental models No robust model for contact-induced language change has been provided yet (Siemund 2008) but some sociolinguistic approaches presented in the second half of the twentieth century seem to offer a valid starting point for its study. I will focus here on the study of those variation models proposed by Labov and Bailey, and the social network model of Milroy, since all three have been widely used and discussed. Ideas concerning the relationships between lan- guages and societies that can be inferred from other...

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