Voices from Shetland #2 – Sara Ponz-Sans

For the next few weeks we will be sharing the summaries of the talks given at the workshop that took place in Lerwick, Shetland. Our second guest post is a summary of Dr Sara Ponz-Sans (Cardiff University)’s discussion, ‘Old English and Old Norse/Danish, where is the research today? What can new research gain?

Sara Pons-Sanz presented first an overview of the lexical impact of Old Norse on English, focusing particularly on the difference between French and Norse loans in medieval English in terms of number and character. She then discussed the methodological advances for the identification of Norse-derived terms that are being pioneered as part of the AHRC-funded Gersum Project: The Scandinavian Influence on English Vocabulary https://www.gersum.org/.

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The project, involving Pons-Sanz as well as Drs Richard Dance and Brittany Schorn (University of Cambridge), focuses mainly on nine Middle English texts associated with the so-called ‘Alliterative Revival’, but its findings can be applied to the identification of any Norse terms in English and, more widely, to the lexical effects of other contact situations involving closely related languages. In the final part of her presentation, Pons-Sanz spoke about the need for collaboration among scholars working on a wide array of disciplines and languages in order to gain a better understanding of the impact that the Anglo-Scandinavian contact might have had on specific lexico-semantic fields, such as the field of PROTECTION (mainly in relation to the native frið and the Norse-derived grið.

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The thorough study of such legal terms requires the input of linguists and legal historians working on Old English and Old Norse materials, as well as other Germanic languages so that comparisons between cognate terms can be duly established. Our network, Voices of Law, is ideally suited for such academic endeavours.

You can read more about the Gersum project here in our #SpotlightOn series of posts.

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