More on the similarity between Scandinavian languages and English dialects / Scottish English

Friday, August 15, 2008

Viking expansion and raiding by century.

In 2004 I bought a very old Swedish textbook in Canada for $1.50 that was first published in 1947 called Swedish: A comprehensive course for beginners by R.J. McClean. It's so old that it has translation exercises like the following:
Vi övergår till eftermiddagens telegram:

Det tyska överkommandot meddelar från ostfronten, att det femte tyska armén i svåra avvärjningsstrider avvisat upprepade ryska försök att tränga in i de tyska ställningarna. Flera ryska grupper blev likviderade.
The answer to the above is apparently:
We now proceed to this evening's telegrams:

The German Supreme Command reports from the eastern front that in severe defensive battles the Fifth German Army has repulsed repeated Russian attempts to penetrate into the German positions. Several Russian groups were liquidated.
It also assumes that the student knows a fair amount of German grammar and will sometimes explain parts of Swedish grammar as being "just like (insert German expression here) in German". However, the introduction has a fairly interesting paragraph about the similarities between Swedish (and Norwegian as well, the language I wrote about in a lot of detail here as being the easiest for English speakers to learn) and certain English dialects as well as Scottish English. Here it is:
As regards vocabulary, Swedish does not present any great difficulty to the English student. Many common words are very similar in the two languages, e.g. man and 'man', fisk and 'fish', hus and 'house', horn and 'horn', hund and 'hound', båt and 'boat', bok and 'book'. Owing to Swedish sound changes other cognate words are not quite so easy te recognize, e.g. ord and 'word', under and 'wonder', tacka and 'thank', hjärta and 'heart', hjärta and 'heart', hjälp and 'help', bjärt and 'bright'. Students familiar with the dialects of Northern England and the Lowlands of Scotland will have the advantage of being able to recognize the meaning of many more words. Thus the Lancashire man, with his 'tooth-wertch, belly-wertch and head-wertch'will easily guess that the Swedish tandvärk means 'toothache'and huvudvärk 'headache'. When it is raining 'cats and dogs' in the North, the inhabitant of Cumberland says 'It's fair silen doon,' using a dialect word to sile meaning 'to strain, to pour through a sieve.' Similarly in Swedish sil means 'a strainer' and silregn is rain that is falling as heavily and continuously as if it were poured through a sieve. Many such examples could be quoted from Scottish dialects. To take a few: 'braw' and bra, 'bairn' and barn, 'murk' and mörk, 'to greet' and gråta, 'neb' and näbb, 'rowan' and rönn. And even an expression like 'to go aince errand' has its equivalent in the Swedish gå ens ärende.
Here are the Norwegian equivalents of most of them (most are the same or almost the same as in Swedish):
  • man - mann
  • fish - fisk
  • house - hus
  • horn - horn
  • hound - hund
  • boat - båt
  • book - bok
  • word - ord
  • wonder - under
  • thank - takke
  • heart - hjerte
  • help - hjelp
  • bright - bjart
  • toothache - tannpine
  • headache - hodepine
  • to strain - sile

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