Tag: historical linguistics

Norse-derived terms in English: The Bread and Butter of Etymological Work

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? BG09A (Building 9), 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.

20110617-no-knead-bread-primary-thumb-625xauto-167152This 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.

 

Biography

Sara photo (3)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.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

The long stories of short tales: genes, languages and the evolution of folk traditions

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome the acclaimed anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani (Durham University) for a presentation on the long stories of short tales: genes, languages and the evolution of folk traditions.

When? Monday 13th November 2017, 16.30 – 18.00

Where? Room C138 (College building), Middlesex University, Hendon campus

Many fairy tales are believed to be derived from oral folk traditions, some of which exhibit remarkable continuities across cultures. Versions of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood – to take two famous examples – have been recorded in places as diverse as Italy, England, China and Antigua. The question of when and where these so-called “international tale types” originated and how they spread is one that has preoccupied folkorists since the time of the Brothers Grimm. In this talk I will show how some answers can be gleaned by integrating cross-cultural patterns in folktales with data from population genetics and historical linguistics. I will also discuss some of the cultural and psychological properties that might make certain kinds of stories particularly “catchy” and memorable, enabling them to survive the wear-and-tear of oral transmission over so many generations and across such vast distances”

Biography

Jamie Tehrany’s research focuses on how culture evolves as it gets transmitted from person to person and from generation to generation. He is interested in understanding what makes some things catch on, others die out, and how these processes shape patterns of cultural diversity within and across populations. Dr Tehrany was trained in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics (1995 – 1999) and gained a Master’s degree in Human Evolution and Behaviour at University College London (2000). He remained at UCL to study for a PhD in Anthropology (2005), writing his thesis on the transmission of craft traditions in Iranian tribal groups. In 2006 he took up a postdoctoral research fellowship at the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity (CECD) at University College London, before joining Durham in 2007 as a RCUK Fellow, where he was appointed as a Lecturer in Anthropology in 2012, and then Senior Lecturer in 2014. His current work focuses mainly on the transmission of popular narratives, such as traditional folktales, urban legends and modern day conspiracy theories.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.