Scandinavian element


Chronologically words of Scandinavian origin entered the language in the period between the 8th and the 10th centuries due to the Scandinavian invasions and settlement of Scandinavians on the British Isles, with subsequent though temporary union of two important divisions of the Germanic race. It is generally thought that the amount of words borrowed from this source was about 5000, though some linguists surmise that the number could have been even greater, but due to the similarity of the languages and scarcity of written records of the time it is not always possible to say whether the word is a borrowed one or native, inherited from the same Common Germanic source.

Such words may be mentioned here, as:


They, then, their, husband, fellow, knife, law, leg, wing, give, get, forgive, forget, take, call, ugly, wrong.


As we said, words of Scandinavian origin penetrated into the English language so deeply that their determination is by no means easy. However, there are some phonetic/spelling features of the words which in many cases make this attribution authentic enough. These are as follows:

- words with the sk/sc combination in the spelling, as:


sky, skin, skill, scare, score, scald, busk, bask

(but not some Old French borrowings as task, scan, escape)


- words with the sound [g] or [k] before front vowels [i], [e], [ei], in the spelling I, e, ue, ai, a (open syllable) or at the end of the word:


give, get, forgive, forget, again, gate, game, keg, kid, kilt, egg, drag, dregs, flag, hug, leg, log, rig.


There are also personal names of the same origin, ending in –son:


Jefferson, Johnson



Or place names ending in –ly, thorp, -toft (originally meaning “village”, “hamlet”):


Whitly, Althorp, Lowestoft


These places are mainly found in the north-east of England, where the Scandinavian influence was stronger than in other parts of England.

French element


The French element in the English language is a large and important one. Words of this origin entered the language in the Middle and New English periods.

Among Middle English borrowings we generally mention earlier borrowings, their source being Norman French – the dialect of William Conqueror and his followers. They entered the language in the period beginning with the time of Edward the Confessor and continued up to the loss of Normandy in 1204.

Later Middle English borrowings have as their source Parisian French. The time of these borrowings may be estimated as end of the 13th century up to 15000.

These words are generally fully assimilated in English and felt as its integral part:


Government, parliament, justice, peace, prison, court, crime, etc.


Many of these words (though by no means all of them) are terms used in reference to government and courts of law.

Later Middle English borrowings are more colloquial words:


Air, river, mountain, branch, cage, calm, cost, table, chair.


The amount of these Middle English borrowings is as estimated as much as 3,500.

French borrowings of the New English period entered the language beginning with the 17th century – the time of the Restoration of monarchy in Britain, which began with the accession to the throne of Charles II, who had long lived in exile at the French court:


Aggressor, apartment, brunette, campaign, caprice, caress, console, coquette, caravat, billet-doux, carte blanche, etc.


Later also such words appeared in the language as:


Garage, magazine, policy, machine.


It is interesting to note that the phonetics of French borrowings always helps us to prove their origin.

These phonetic features are at least two: stress and special sound/letter features. Concerning the first (stress), words which do not have stress on the first syllable is a prefix are almost always French borrowings of the New English period. Words containing the sounds [∫] spelled not sh, [dз] – not dg, [t∫] – not ch and practically all words with the sound [З] are sure to be of French origin:


Aviation, social, Asia, soldier, jury, literature, pleasure, treasure.



The extensive borrowing form various languages and assimilation of loan words gave rise to the formation in English of a large number of words the elements of which are of different origin – they are generally termed word-hybrids.


English French

be- - cause because

a- - round around

a- curse accurse

out cry outcry

over power overpower

fore front forefront

salt cell(ar) saltcellar

false hood falsehood


French English

hobby horse hobbyhorse

scape goat scapegoat

trouble some troublesome

plenty -ful plentiful

aim -less aimless

re- take retake



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