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The Norwegian Connection
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Before I get started I must warn you, I have a good deal of information
here so prepare yourself. It deals mostly with the linguistic question
you asked. I have contacted the University in Oslo regarding Scottish
connections to Rollo/Rogenvald of Møre and Romsdal. When I hear from
them on this, I will post it.
So to begin. Most people from English-speaking backgrounds are perhaps
only vaguely aware of their mixed descent. You, as a reader of many
books, may remember Tennyson's, "Saxon, Norman and Dane are we". Our
"Saxon" ancestors were first cousins in Europe to the forbears of the
Northmen/Norsemen ("Nordmenn" in Norwegian). The Norsemen who invaded
and settled England after 787 AD as Vikings and after 1066 AD as Normans
(which is where Normandy, in no. France gets it's name) were already our
second cousins. The people's that made up the tribes of the European
Continent went to make up (among others) the races whom we call today
Germans, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, Icelanders, English, Scottish
and others. The earliest collective name for all of these peoples was
the Latin word "Germani". The common language of these peoples has been
called "Primitive Germanic". However, so as not to confuse "Germani"
with what we know today as Germany or Germans, it's probably better to
call this collection of tribes Northwest Europeans and the language,
Primitive Northwest European - also known as Gothonic.
The speakers of Primitive N.W. European/Gothonic were linked again by
language to a dozen or so other groups of people's speaking tongues
which ages ago was derived from one single "parent language" (which has
been called "Indo-European" and before the Nazi connection, "Aryan".
Since Aryan has a racial tone, rather than a linguistic one these days,
linguists rightly often decline from using it.). The more important of
these groups were the Celtic, Italic, Greek, Slavonic, Baltic, Indic and
Hittite. The Indo-European language does not exist in rock carved
inscription or written document for the good reason that writing had not
been invented before the original speakers split up and wandered apart
(writing was invented, as well as the first cities built, in Mesopotamia
(modern day Iraq) in approx. 3000 B.C., which is why Mesopotamia is
called by most historians as the birthplace of modern civilization). How
they spoke changed with time and with coming into contact with other
peoples in their wanderings. Still, the parent language from which
Primitive N.W. European, Celtic, Italic, etc. derive can be
reconstructed because although languages change beyond all recognition,
the change is regular and ordered and follows certain "laws".
Anyway, the languages of the Saxons, Danes, Norwegians, Celts, etc. were
very similar and originally from a similar linguistic family. These
peoples could, in fact, understand each other fairly well when they came
in contact with one another. Even today, there are many similarities
between our languages and there were many more in days past before the
languages drifted so far apart from each other. There are many words in
modern Norwegian and modern English that are almost the same. For
English: "book" Norwegian: "bok"
English: "hammer" Norwegian: "hammer" (pronounced with a long A,
rather than a short A)
English: "mean" Norwegian: "mene" (pronounced "mayna")
English: "help" Norwegian: "hjelp"
English: "land" Norwegian: "land" (meaning
English: "men" Norwegian: "menn"
English: "word" Norwegian: "ord"
English: "eye" Norwegian: "øye"
English: "hope" Norwegian: "håpe" (pronounced exactly like the
English: "where" Norwegian: "hvor"
English: "mine" Norwegian: "mine" (pronounced "meena")
English: "example" Norwegian: "eksempel"
Just to name a few.
Also, if you heard a Scotsman today say, "Do ya no' ken?", that means
"Don't you know?" ("Do you not know?") and "kjenne" ("ken" - Scot) in
Norwegian means "know". The Old English word for army was "here" - the
modern Norwegian word for army is "hær".
Just before I finish up, I would like to write out a short passage from
the "Old English Chronicle" for the year 787 A.D. (the "Old English
Chronicle" is the basic written authority for early English history,
also known as the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle"):
["This year Beorhtric took to wife Eadburg daughter of King Offa. It was
during Beorhtric's days that three ships of the Northmen first came here
from "Horthaland" (Norw.: "Hordaland", which is, in fact, the district
on the west coast of Norway where I lived when I first moved there -
Hardanger is a region of Hordaland. You will see a town called "Odda" at
the very end of the fjord on your map. The village where I lived, Grimo,
is not far from there.) The reeve galloped to meet them, intending to
drive them to the king's town (Dorchester, Dorset) for he did not know
who or what they were. They killed him. These were the first ships of
the Danes ever to seek England."]
Note that the O.E. Chronicle does not use the term "Vikings" (which
didn't come into fashion until Victorian times and comes from the Old
Norse word "vikingr"). It uses "Northmen" and "Danes" and that they came
from "Horthaland". No doubt that the English Dorset folk recognized that
their assailants came in general from Scandinavia or Denmark, but for
them to remember and for their clerks in holy orders to put on record,
the actual name of the district from where the strangers came points out
that the speech of both peoples was close enough for them to understand
And - if these sailors actually came from Hordaland on the west coast of
Norway as is written in the Chronicle, then the Chronicle is right to
refer to them as "Northmen", but not "Danes" and later Chronicle entries
call them the "heathens" (obviously considered so by a people who had
already been Christian for 2 centuries, while the "Northmen" were still
worshiping a variety of pagan Norse gods).
It is also interesting to note that references to Norwegians going to
Scotland are also made in (at least) one of the ancient Icelandic Sagas
- the Laxdæla Saga. To quote the Intro: "The saga opens in Norway with a
fleeting glimpse of the heroid period of Scandinavia. As King Harald
Fine-Hair of Norway consolidates the power of his throne in the second
half of the ninth century, the more independent-minded chieftains decide
to emigrate. One of them is Ketil Flat-Nose (does his nickname suggest a
Lappish origin?); he himself decides to settle in Scotland, but his sons
emigrate to newly-discovered Iceland, and it is to Iceland, too, that
his strong-willed daughter, Unn the Deep-Minded, eventually comes after
some hazardous adventures in Scotland (Chapters 1-5). It is from one of
Ketil's sons, Bjorn the Easterner, and from his daughter, Unn the
Deep-Minded, that the two main streams of this family chronicle are
As to your oe or ae question with regards to Ø. oe is the one to use
because if you use ae it could very easily be confused with æ. As to
what Ø, Å and Æ sound like - let's see. Æ sounds like the English ai, as
in "hair" or "air", which is the best way I can describe it. Å sounds
like long O as in "over" and Ø is absolutely impossible for me to
describe. It's a very special sound. No English equivalents.
Anyway, that's it for now. I have to get back to that translation. I
hope you didn't find it too tiring to read. How's your throat doing now
by the way?
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