Norse- and French-Derived words in the Ormulum


The vocabulary of the Ormulum has been the subject of much scholarly work, particularly in connection with the large number of Norse-derived words it includes. There are, however, a number of factors that make a review of its nature appropriate and necessary, especially now that the new edition (Johannesson & Cooper 2023) is available. In researching Orrm’s Norse-derived words further, there is much to gained from applying the systematic etymological analysis developed within the Gersum Project. The French element, which has received much less attention in studies of Orrm’s language, also needs to be examined, not least because of the ubiquitous Latin-and/or-French problem. Studies of either set of borrowings also benefit from the completion of the Historical Thesaurus of English, which makes detailed and consistent semantic work possible. Moreover, we wish to throw light on the broader question of coexistence, interaction and competition between native and borrowed terms in Middle English.

Our paper at ICEHL brought together different strands in lexical research (etymology, semantics, stylistics and sociolinguistics), in order to re-assess, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the make-up of Orrm’s vocabulary with specific focus on his French- and Norse-derived lexis. This account also sought to place Orrm’s words in their dialectal context through comparisons with near-contemporary texts; these comparisons are fundamental in order to understand to what extent Orrm’s lexical choices are as innovative as other aspects of his language, particularly his spelling practices. The joint presentation will be followed by two separate papers on the Norse- and French-derived words in the Ormulum.


Sara Pons-Sanz & Janne Skaffari

French and Norse Derived Terms - Pons-Sanz and Skaffari (1080 Kb)