Scandinavian place-names in Northern Britain as evidence for language contact and interaction

Grant, Alison Elizabeth (2003) Scandinavian place-names in Northern Britain as evidence for language contact and interaction. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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My thesis consists of an examination of various types of place-name formations, as evidence of the linguistic contact and interaction which occurred between incoming Scandinavian speakers and the native population of northern Britain, in light of current theories of language contact. The first chapter analyses the nature of the relationship between Scandinavian and Celtic speakers in areas of primary settlement in Scotland, and considers how this relationship is likely to have affected the language and, more specifically, the toponymy in regions of secondary settlement such as the North-West of England, the South-West of Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The subsequent chapters examine four different types of place-name formation which are found chiefly in these secondary Scandinavian settlements: inversion-compound names, ǽrgi names, kirk- compound names and bý names. Each chapter looks at the nature and distribution of one of these groups, and investigates how language contact phenomena including bilingualism, lexical borrowing and substratum transfer may have influenced the form and development of such name-types. I have concluded that differing types of linguistic contact, occurring both in primary and secondary settlement areas, may account for the differing usage and distribution of the four categories of place-names. The inception of the inversion-compounds has been re-evaluated and it is argued that rather then having been coined by Scandinavians who were influenced by Celtic work-order, these names were instead created by Gaelic-speakers who had shifted to the Scandinavian language. It is also argued that the more widespread distribution of names in ǽrgi in comparison with the inversion names is not due to the two groups of names by coined by different groups of immigrants, nor because of the secondary dissemination of the element ǽrgi amongst non-Scandinavian speakers, as had previously been suggested. Rather, the disparity in distribution is likely to reflect the fact that the ǽrgi names result from the straightforward lexical transfer of a Gaelic element into the Scandinavian language, whereas the inversion names were created by a specific bilingual substrate element amongst the Scandinavian settlers. In the case of inversion-compounds with the initial kirk- it is argued that rather than representing partial translations of English cirice- or Gaelic cill- names, the names were coined as kirk- compounds within a Gaelic-Scandinavian context. The predominantly Scottish distribution of this toponymic group reflects secondary dissemination of the name-type amongst monolingual Gaelic-speakers in the South-West. In the case of names in bý, it is argued that this group do not represent a purely Danish wave of settlement throughout the Irish seaboard, as has previously been suggested. Rather, linguistic contact between Danes and Norwegians, and later English-speakers, led to the more widespread utilisation of this element.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Hough, Carole
Date of Award: 2003
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2003-1637
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:44

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