The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome the distinguished linguist and literary scholar Dr Sara M. Pons-Sanz, (Cardiff University) for a presentation on Norse-derived terms in English.
When? Wednesday 28 February 2018, 16.00 – 17.30
Where? Room C207 (College), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT
The presence and significance of Norse-derived terms in English has long been acknowledged and studied. The genetic proximity of Old English and Old Norse is likely to have facilitated mutual intelligibility between speakers of the two languages and the transfer of lexical and, to less extent, morphosyntactic material from one language to the other. However, the closeness between the two languages makes the identification of Norse loans in English rather problematic, particularly in those cases where there is no clear phonological or morphological evidence in favour of their Scandinavian past.
This paper will explore some of the challenges facing historical linguists interested in the lexical effects of the Anglo-Scandinavian linguistic contact in English. It will focus to start with on OE brēad, a term which is often presented as a Norse-derived semantic loan on the basis that it is said to have originally meant ‘piece, morsel of bread’ and to have acquired the meaning ‘bread, food prepared by moistening, kneading, and baking meal or flour, generally with the addition of yeast or leaven’ (OED 1989: s.v. bread, n., senses 1 and 2a) because of the influence of its Viking Age Norse cognate, represented by OIc brauð ‘bread’.
The discussion on the role of tradition and ideology in the study of the etymology of OE brēad will lead to the introduction of The Gersum Project, a three-year AHRC-funded project which takes its name from the loanword gersum (cp. OIc gørsemi ‘treasure’). This project aims at producing an objective and systematic typology to classify Norse-derived loans in English on the basis of the extant linguistic evidence.
Dr Sara Pons-Sanz is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy. Her research focuses on the make-up of medieval English vocabulary from different perspectives (etymology, sociolinguistics and stylistics). After completing two BAs (BA in English Philology and BA in Spanish Philology) and the equivalent of an MA in English Philology at the University of Valencia (Spain), she pursued an MPhil and a PhD at the University of Cambridge, in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. She was then granted a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, which she took at the University of Nottingham (School of English). Having spent six years in Nottingham (2004-2010), she joined the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster, where she taught over five years (2010-2016) until she moved to Cardiff University.