This talk in the session concerned Norse-derived loan verbs and how well they were integrated into Orrm’s language morphosyntactically. It reports on work in progress for a paper which focusses on testing for a bias towards non-finite usage of Norse-derived verbs in the text, to be submitted as part of an upcoming volume of collected essays on the Ormulum.


Structural Integration of Norse-derived verbs in the Ormulum (647 Kb)


By the nature of the author’s variety represented in the text, its date of composition and its localisation, the Ormulum is a highly relevant text in tracing the impact of Anglo-Scandinavian contact on the English lexicon, as other talks in this session showed. Verbs are a particularly interesting subject in this area, as they need to work within the morphosyntactic system of English to become usable. How well they are integrated into the morphosyntax of Orrm’s language is measured by comparing their usage in non-finite and finite inflectional forms in the text. Because usage of non-finite forms, like infinitives, in complex verb constructions does not require a loan verb to fully fit the inflectional system of English (yet) but instead carries the morphosyntactic information in form of inflections on an auxiliary verb, a preference for such uses over usage of finite verb forms can indicate a lesser degree of integration of a loan verb. This preference, also called accommodation bias, has been shown to exist for loan verbs in this and other contact situations. I could show that Norse-derived verbs are well integrated into Orrm’s morphosyntax, as no significant bias towards non-finite usage became apparent when compared to native English verbs’ usage. However, I’ll keep working on controlling for cognate status, metric influences, and lemma frequency. As this bias has been shown to be significant for Norse-derived verbs in other early Middle English texts in previous work, this further speaks to the extent and advanced naturalisation of the Norse element in Orrm’s variety of early Middle English.


W. Juliane Elter.