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Old Norse words in the English Language

Old Norse words in the English Language

So, you think you can't speak Danish? Well, perhaps you need to think again, at least if English is your native tongue.

Although you might not master the Danish language good enough for a conversation, a large group of every-day-words you use in English actually has a Danish, or rather Old Norse origin; name of week days, maritime terms etc. You'll also find traces in English place names (e.g. in endings such as -by, -thorpe, -gate, and -toft), and some of these place names even have a Scandinavian personal names as prefix, such as Grimsby, meaning Grim's village.

Read more: Old Norse words in the English Language

A brief history of Denmark - From Danish prehistory to the 1800s

The famous rune stone in Jelling

The oldest existing evidence of human habitation in Denmark is traces of reindeer hunters'' settlements. They settled on the Jutland Peninsula by the end of the last Ice Age c. 12500 BC, but it was not until the Stone Age, c. 4000 BC, that a peasant culture with organised farming communities emerged. In the Bronze Age (1800 BC) villages emerged and in the Iron Age (500 AD) regular towns.

Read more: A brief history of Denmark - From Danish prehistory to the 1800s

A brief history of Denmark - Denmark in the 1800s

The shelling of Copenhagen Sep. 1807.

During the 1700s, the Danish-Norwegian merchant fleet had become large and rather powerful, and in size only surpassed by the British fleet. Although Denmark tried to keep neutral in the wars subsequent to the French Revolution, Denmark was pulled into the growing conflict between the French-Russian alliance on one side and the English-Swedish alliance on the other. Denmark was not willing to give in to the English demands and kept on calling at ports in France and in French possessions. Twice this lead to an English attack, 1801 and 1807, and after the English shelling of Copenhagen in 1807—said to be the worlds first bombardment of civilians—almost the entire Danish-Norwegian fleet was sieged.

Read more: A brief history of Denmark - Denmark in the 1800s

A few numbers and facts...

  • 500,000

    ...Danes emigrated up to 1968, and of these about 70% departed for the USA. In the 1800's alone a vast majority of 90% went to the USA. Read more...

  • 261,065

    This many individuals, comprising of 4.6 percent of all Danes, carries the surname JENSEN followed by NIELSEN, HANSEN, PEDERSEN and ANDERSEN. Read more...

  • 1,000

    Of the 5,000 basic words in modern English, as many as 20 percent are so-called loan words from the Old Norse language (ON). Read more...

  • 1769

    This year the first Danish census was taken. The next censuses were taken in 1787 and 1801 and from 1834 onwards every 5-10 years. Read more...

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