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SCANDINAVIAN LANGUAGES


d, l, n, s and t), while the singular of the verbs is gradually supplanting the plural. A vigorous reform, slowly but firmly carried on almost uniformly during all periods of the Swedish language, is the throwing back of the principal accent to the beginning of the word in cases where previously it stood nearer the end, a tendency that is characteristic of all the Scandinavian languages, but no doubt especially of Swedish. In the primitive Scandinavian age the accent was removed in most simple words; the originally accented syllable, however, preserved a musically high pitch and stress. Thus there arose two essentially different accentuations—the one, with unaccentuated final syllable, as in Icel. stígr (Gr. στείχεις), thou goest, the comparative betre (cf. Gr. θάσσων from ταχύς), better, the other, with secondary stress and high pitch on the final, as in Icel. pret. plur. buðo (Sans. bubudhús), we bade, part. pret. bitenn (Sans. bhinnás), bitten. The same change afterwards took place in those compound words that had the principal accent on the second member, so that such contrasts as German úrteil and erteílen were gradually brought into conformity with the former accentuation. At the present day it is quite exceptionally (and chiefly in borrowed words of later date) that the principal accent in Swedish is on any other syllable than the first, as in lekámen, body, välsígna, to bless.

The scientific study of Modern Swedish[1] dates from Sweden's glorious epoch, the last half of the 17th century. The first regular The study of Modern Swedish. Swedish grammar was written in 1684 (not edited till 1884) in Latin by E. Aurivillius; the first in Swedish is by N. Tiällman (1696). But little, however, of value was produced before the great work of Rydqvist mentioned above, which, although chiefly dealing with the old language, throws a flood of light on the modern also. Among the works of late years we must call special attention to the researches into the history of the language by K. F. Söderwall, F. A. Tamm, A. Kock and E. Hellquist. The grammar of the modern language is, as regards certain parts, treated in a praiseworthy manner by, among others, J. A. Aurén, J. A. Lyttkens and F. A. Wulff (in several common works), E. Tegnér, G. Cederschiöld and F. A. Tamm (d. 1905). A good though short account of phonology and inflections is given in H. Sweet's essay on “Sounds and Forms of Spoken Swedish” (Trans. Phil. Soc., 1877-1879). A comprehensive and detailed grammar (Vårt språk) has been edited (since 1903) by A. Noreen. Attempts to construct a dictionary were made in the 16th century, the earliest being the anonymous Variarum rerum vocabula cum Sueca interpretatione, in 1538, and the Synonymorum libellus by Elaus Petri Helsingius, in 1587, both of which, however, followed German originals. The first regular dictionary is by H. Spegel, 1712; and in 1769 J. Ihre (d. 1780), probably the greatest philological genius of Sweden, published his Glossarium Suiogoticum, which still remains one of the most copious Swedish dictionaries in existence. In the 19th century the diligent lexicographer A. F. Dalin published a useful work. The Swedish Academy has been editing (since 1893) a gigantic dictionary on about the same plan as Dr Murray's New English Dictionary. Another such large work is Sverges Ortnamn (the local names of Sweden) edited since 1906 by the Royal Committee for investigation of the Swedish place-names.

IV. Danish, like Swedish, is divided into the two great Pre- and Post-Reformation epochs of Old and Modern Danish.

I. Old Danish.—The territory of Old Danish included not only the present Denmark, but also the southern Swedish provinces of Old Danish. Halland, Skåne and Blekinge, the whole of Schleswig, and, as stated above, for a short period also a great part of England, and parts of Normandy. The oldest monuments of the language are runic inscriptions, altogether about 225 in number.[2] The oldest of them go as far back as to the beginning of the 9th century, the Snoldelev-stone, for instance, on Sealand, and the Flemløse-stone on Fünen. From about the year 900 date the very long inscriptions of Tryggevaelde (Zealand) and Glavendrup (Fünen); from the 10th century we have the stones of Jaellinge (Jutland), in memo of two of the oldest historical kings of Denmark (Gorm and Harald); while from about 1000 we have a stone at Dannevirke (Schleswig), raised by the conqueror of England, Sven Tjuguskaegg. Relics of about the same age are the words that were introduced by the Danes into English, the oldest of which date from the end of the 9th century, the time of the first Danish settlement in England; most of these are to be found in the early English work Ormulum.[3] No Danish literature arose before the 13th century. The oldest manuscript that has come down to us dates from the end of that century, written in runes and containing the law of Skåne. From about the year 1300 we possess a manuscript written in Latin characters and containing the so-called Valdemar's and Erik's laws of Zealand, the Flensborg manuscript of the law of Jutland, and a manuscript of the municipal laws of Flensborg. These three manuscripts represent three different dialects—that, namely, of Skåne, Halland and Blekinge, that of Zealand and the other islands, and that of Jutland and Schleswig. There existed no uniform literary Dialects. language in the Old Danish period, although some of the most important works of the 15th century, such as the clerk Michael's Poems (since 1496) and the Rhymed Chronicle (the first book printed in Danish, in 1495), on account of their excellent diction, contributed materially to the final preponderance of their dialect, that of Zealand, towards the Reformation.

As to the form of the language, it hardly differs at all during the period between A.D. 800 and 1200 from Old Swedish. It is only in Form of the language. the oldest literature that we can trace any marked differences; these are not very important, and are generally attributable to the fact that Danish underwent a little earlier the same changes that afterwards took place in Swedish (e.g. h in hw and hj in Danish was mute as early as the end of the 14th century. The laws referred to above only agree in differing from the Swedish laws in the following points: the nominative already takes the form of the accusative (as kalf, calf, but Old Sw. nom. kalver, acc. kalf); the second person plural ends in -æ (as køpæ, but Old Sw. køpin, you buy); in the subjunctive no differences are expressed between persons and numbers. Among themselves, on the contrary, they show considerable differences; the law of Skåne most nearly corresponds with the Swedish laws, those of Zealand keep the middle place, while the law of Jutland exhibits the most distinctive individuality. The Skåne law, e.g., retains the vowels a, i, u in terminations, which otherwise in Danish have become uniformly æ; the same law inserts b and d between certain consonants (like Old Sw.), has preserved the dative, and in the present tense takes the vowel of the infinitive; the law of Jutland, again, does not insert b and d, and has dropped the dative, while the present tense (undergoing an Umlaut) has by no means always accepted the vowel of the infinitive; in all three characteristics the laws of Zealand fluctuate. After 1350 we meet an essentially altered language, in which we must first note the change of k, p, t after a vowel into g, b, d (as tag, roof, løbe, to run, æde, to eat); th passes into t (as ting, thing), gh into w (as law for lagh, gild) or into i (as vei for wægh, way); ld, nd are pronounced like ll, nn; s is the general genitive ending in singular and plural, &c. The vocabulary, which in earlier times only borrowed a few, and those mostly ecclesiastical, words, is now—chiefly owing to the predominant influence of the Hanse towns—inundated by German words, such as those beginning with be-, bi-, ge-, for- and und-, and ending in -hēd, and a great number of others, as blīve, to become, skē, to happen, frī, free, krīg, war, buxer, pantaloons, ganske, quite, &c.

An Old Danish grammar is still wanting, and the preparatory studies which exist are, although excellent, but few in number, Grammatical treatment. being chiefly essays by the Danes K. J. Lyngby and L. F. A. Wimmer. N. M. Petersen's treatise Det Danske, Norske, og Svenska sprogs historie, vol. i. (1829), one of the first works that paid any attention to Old Danish, which till then had been completely neglected, is now surpassed by V. Dahlerup's Geschichte der dänischen Sprache (1904). A dictionary on a large scale covering the whole of Old Danish literature, except the very oldest, by O. Kalkar, has been in course of publication since 1881; older and smaller is C. Molbech's Dansk Glossarium (1857-1866).

2. Modern Danish.—The first important monument of this is the translation of the Bible, by C. Pedersen, Peder Palladius and others, Modern Danish sources. the so-called Christian III.'s Bible (1550), famous for the unique purity and excellence of its language, the dialect of Zealand, then incontestably promoted to be the language of the kingdom. The first secular work deserving of the same praise is Vedel's translation of Saxo (1575). The succeeding period until 1750 offers but few works in really good Danish; as perfectly classical, however, we have to mention the so-called Christian V.'s Law of Denmark (1683). For the rest, humanism has stamped a highly Latin-French character on the literature, striking even in the works of the principal writer of this period, Holberg. But about the year 1750 there begins a new movement, characterized by a reaction against the language of the preceding period and by purist tendencies, or, at least, efforts to enrich the language with new-formed words (not seldom after the German pattern), as omkreds, periphery, selvstændighed, independence, valgsprog, devise, digter, poet. The leading representatives of these tendencies were Eilschow and Sneedorf. From their time Danish may be said to have acquired its present essential features, though it cannot be denied that several later authors, as J. Ewald and Öhlenschläger, have exercised a considerable influence on the poetical style. Form of the language. As the most important differences between the grammatical forms of the 18th and 19th centuries on one hand and those of the 16th and 17th centuries on the other, may be noted the following: most neuter substantives take a plural ending; those ending in a vowel form their plural by adding -r (as riger, for older rige, plural of rige, kingdom), and many of those ending in a consonant by adding -e (as huse for hus, of hus, house); substantives ending in -ere drop their final -e (as dommer for dommere, judge); the declension with suffixed article becomes simplified in the same way as in Swedish; the plural of verbs takes the singular form (as drak for drukke, we drank); and the preterit subjunctive is supplanted by the infinitive (as var for vaare, were).

  1. See A. Noreen, “Aperçu,” &c.; Vårt språk, i. 181 sqq.
  2. See L. F. A. Wimmer, De Danske runemindesmærker (4 vols., 1895-1905).
  3. See E. Brate, “Nordische Lehnwörter im Ormulum” (Paul Braune's Beiträge, x., 1884); E. Björkman, Scandinavian Loanwords in Middle English (2 vols., 1900, 1902) in “Studien zur englischen Philologie,” vii. and xi. Also Orm.