Mainland Scandinavian: Loans from Middle Low German

        (Written: 2000; last updated: 22 Nov 2012)


                    (Deutsche Fassung: hier klicken!)

 

 


Color key to the words:

red = Modern Swedish, Danish and Norwegian;

blue = Middle Low German (MLG=MLS and/or MDu);

green = Old West or East Norse words displaced;

purple: Middle Scandinavian words.

 

Other abbreviations: arch. = archaic; dial. = dialectal; emLG = Early Modern Low German; HG = High German; LG = Low German; Nyn. = Nynorsk; ON = Old Norse; OSwed. = Old Swedish.

 

Introduction and Orientation

Definition of terms:

Middle Low German (MLG)
Means scholars are not certain about whether a loan came from Middle Low Saxon (MLS) or Middle Dutch (MDu). MLG can therefore be taken to mean from either, or both.

Middle Low Saxon (MLS)
Means the Low German dialects spoken in northern Germany and what is now the Netherlands by Hansa merchants etc. which were based on Old Saxon dialects.

Middle Dutch (MDu)
Means the Low German varieties based upon Old Franconian forms spoken by traders from what is now the Netherlands.

Old Norse (ON)
Is used here, rather than the Old- and Middle- Danish/Swedish forms that were actually replaced (unless stated), as instances of Old Norse are much easier to locate and state with certainty.

Modern Low Saxon/Modern Low German (ModLS)
Means today's Low German dialects that have descended from Old Saxon and are used in Northern Germany and the Eastern Netherlands.

Modern Dutch (Du)
Means today's Low Franconian dialects that are used in the Netherlands, Belgium ("Flemish"), and France (Westhoeks Flemish), as well as in protectorates and former colonies of the Netherlands, descended from Old Low Franconian.

Introduction:

The influence of Low Saxon and Dutch on the Scandinavian languages during the late medieval and early modern period was profound. Some commentators have compared it to the huge influence, both at the lexical and structural levels, that Norman French exerted on late Old English following the Norman Conquest. Indeed, this is the only parallel that can be found from the entire history of European languages! During the course of the medieval period, Danish for example borrowed more than 1500 new words, some of which were loaned from Latin, but the great majority came in from Middle Low German. (Not only were there direct loanwords but many loan translations in which the flesh is native, but the soul imported). The changes effected by Middle Low German on the Mainland Nordic languages were especially pronounced in the period c.1300-1400, when the Hansa was at its peak. But MLG influence lasted until 1550 (and to a lesser degree beyond), after which, High German became became the primary language in Northern Germany and began to influence the Mainland Nordic languages. It has been estimated that the total German – thus encompassing both Low and High German – element in the Danish lexicon is as high as 25%. A similar figure presumably applies to Swedish and Norwegian, although Norwegian has been the most puristic of the three. Willy Sanders puts an even higher figure on the MLG influence in Scandinavian: “…jetzt noch 30% des Wortschatzes nd. Herkunft sind.” Karl Wührer estimates the total share of MLG loans in the Mainland Scandinavian languages to be as high as 50-66%, but this is surely an overestimate. It also says nothing about the frequency of such loanwords. Other scholars are rather more conservative in their estimates. Most MLG words are found in guild laws and legal documents – the fewest are to be found in proverbs and folksongs, i.e. forms closest to the spoken language. That being said, many MLG loans belong to the most common words in the Mainland Scandinavian languages and the history of the Scandinavian languages simply cannot be studied without a detailed consideration of the MLG element. No Nordicist can afford to neglect this area. As Torsten Dahlberg put it (p.194):

Fast auf allen Gebieten der Nordistik spürt oder ahnt man direkt oder indirekt das niederdeutsche Substrat. In Skandinavien können wir an dem Niederdeutschen nie vorbeikommen”.

Another way to appreciate the magnitude of the effect of MLG on the Nordic languages is to consider what it gave to the societies of the speakers. In other words, its cultural impact. This inpact was tremendous and lasting, effectively dragging the Nordic countries into the mainstream of European cultural life. As H. Bach remarks about Danish (p.527):

“…eins steht völlig klar: die Einwirkung des mnd. war die wichtigste Voraussetzung für die Einbeziehung des Dänischen in das gesamteuropäische Kulturmuster.

A detailed discussion of the social, historical, legal, cultural and literary impact of MLG on the Nordic languages is beyond the scope of this article, but the interested reader can get a small taste of it by noting the MLG loans from cultural and social life provided in this article. It is generally accepted that the political, sociological and linguistic conditions in Sweden and Denmark-Norway were overall quite similar during the peak of the Hansa influence, thus allowing the largescale uptake of MLG language and culture across the board.

In the early and mid 1100s the Hansa trade town of Lübeck was rising to prominence on the Baltic coast. Along with other Hansa towns, Lübeck allowed the Hanseatic League to dominate trade across Scandinavia and the Baltic for the next three centuries. Colonies of Low German speaking merchants, craftsmen and officials settled in numbers in many major Nordic towns, such as Oslo, Bergen, Visby, Stockholm, Malmö, Söderköping, Kalmar and Copenhagen. (Visby in Gotland was the first centre of Low German expansion and part of a German eastward colonization, being already in the 12th century an almost entirely German town). It is worth noting at this point that the place of language contact – and hence language mixing – was not the national language areas in general but the large trade and traffic areas, i.e. the major towns.

Many aristocratic families from what is now Northern Germany settled in Denmark and elsewhere in Scandinavia, and these often held prominent positions and hence had the chance to influence the literary language of all three nations to quite a degree. Due to the prestige and power of these artisans, tradesmen and courtiers their spoken and written Middle Low German enjoyed a special prestigious position in medieval Scandinavian society.  The polite and courtly speech of the Scandinavian courts (from which there were such loans as riddari, knapi, gígja, hæverskr, lên and hertogi), as well as the terminology of merchants, craftsmen and officials was a for several centuries mainly Middle Low German, and this language left a considerable and lasting lexical legacy in the native languages before it expired as a spoken language in Scandinavia. These immigrants brought with them many loanwords for professions, offices and tools, and the language of the Danish guilds was, for example, full of German terms until the 1800s. Legal and official documents from the Nordic trade-centres of the late medieval and early modern period are loaded with Middle Low German loans and expressions, that is, when they are not written in Low German itself. Germans in Scandinavian towns dominated on account of special rights granted them and influenced political life to such an extent that their presence was eventually decisive in bringing about the pan-Nordic Union of Kalmar in 1397. Albrekt of Mecklenburg, a German-born king, came to the Swedish throne in 1364 and MLG reached its greatest influence during his reign. Stockholm was jointly founded by Germans and Swedes. Furthermore, the first mayor of Stockholm was from the area of today's Northern Germany and during the 1350s the stadslag of Magnus Eriksson had to be passed (among other things) in order to legislate against not more than half of the town officials being of "German" birth! With the advent of printing in the 1400s some of the earliest works printed in Denmark are two Danish chronicles called Rimkrønicken and Den Danske Krønike. These were already known from older MLG versions. The language of Lübeck, the town which represented the central power hub of the Hansa, acted as a kind of normative influence on written MLG, and this variety of MLG is likely to have been especially influential on the Scandinavian languages.

Most words that came in were naturally enough connected with trade and commerce or the nobility. Before 1300 we find fals, herbergi, skraddari, skúta, treya, danz, par, slekt, spital, æra, akta, prófa, klókr, opinberr, ærligr. Already in 1277 Magnus Lagabøter had put the titles barrún and riddari into official use.

The Hanseatic domination of early modern northern European trade was not merely confined to the north Atlantic but spread to the Baltic Rim as well, with numbers of merchants and trade organisations establishing themselves in Poland, Russia, Finland and the Baltic countries. Languages of the region such as Finnish, Karelian, Estonian, Livonian and Latvian also received a number of Low Germanic loans as a result of this intercourse. In later times when Nordic nations thrived in the Baltic trade, still more Low German loans were introduced into these languages from their Scandinavian neighbours.

The result of Low German domination of Nordic trade, economy, handicrafts, shipping, mining, and to some extent, local government and the court, was an unparalleled influx of loanwords and productive morphological elements from the high-prestige Low German varieties. Only now is modern international English contributing a comparable number of loanwords to the Mainland Scandinavian languages, or exerting a similar kind of structural influence. Most substantial among the areas for loans from the Low German were shipping, fishing and navigation, trade and economy, local administration, housebuilding and -keeping, handicrafts and religious activities, but many terms pertaining to the court and polite society were also borrowed, as well as military terminology and many general and now everyday verbs, adjectives and adverbs. In some cases the loanwords were indispensible in naming professions, objects and concepts for which the Scandinavian language speakers had no equivalents – i.e. they had been introduced by the German speakers. Literally thousands of MLG loans and words derived from MLG loaned elements entered into the Mainland Scandinavian languages, and many native Scandinavian words were displaced. The lower prestige Scandinavian elements of the population who wanted to do business with the German immigrants, the main wielders of power at the time, were obliged to learn the foreigners’ language – or at least enough to get by. Nordic merchants probably mixed in MLG words into their speech in order to be better understood by their Hansa counterparts. This partial learning of the immigrants’ tongue paved the way for hundreds of their everyday words to enter the Scandinavian languages.

During the late Middle Ages MLG was closer to the Scandinavian languages in terms of syntax, conjugation and pronunication than is the case between modern High German and Scandinavian.

Around the period 1325-1425, the Danish written language was in danger of being replaced as a written language for letters and official documents by MLG. The nobility, the clergy, the chancellry and the court were the primary users of written communication, and especially in Denmark and southern Sweden MLG was close to becoming the accepted, standard written language.  Even the internal correspondance of the officials was partly in MLG.

MLG affected almost all spheres of the Mainland Scandinavian lexicon (in Einar Haugen’s words: personal names, titles [herr, fru and frøken began as titles for the nobility, but eventually reached their way down to ordinary citizens], curses, devices and equipment, weapons, musical instruments, weights and measures, trade, courtly and refined behaviour, mining, animals, food, weather, illness, laws, administration and education), but the examples given below of words current in modern Danish (unless stated otherwise) indicate the main spheres of influence. The areas most borrowing took place were in trade and professions, house and home, food, clothing, warfare, shipping, local administration and the courtly life. Many of these words are loan-translations (i.e. Low German elements are translated directly into their Scandinavian etymological and semantic equivalents – often using word-forming elements borrowed from MLG), for example MLG hantwerk becomes håndværk “craft, trade” and unwetenheit becomes uvidenhed “ignorance”. Many of these loans are now among the most everyday words in the Mainland Scandinavian languages:

1.     Trade and professions: arbejd “work”, bager "baker", bytte “exchange”, bødker “cooper”, børs “stock exchange”, bøssemager "gunsmith", fisker "fisherman", fragt "freight", garver “tanner”, gesäll (Swed.) “journeyman”, glasmästre “glazer”, handel “trade”, handle "to trade", handskemager "glover", håndværk "handicraft", håndværker “craftsman, workman”, høker “shopkeeper; huckster”, isenkræmmer "ironmonger", klejnsmed "locksmith", kræmmer “shopkeeper”, krögare (Swed.) “innkeeper, restauranteur”, kunstner "artist", købe "to buy", købmand "merchant", køgemester “master cook”, köpenskap (Swed.) “trade”, lærling “apprentice”, maler “painter”, murer “mason”, pels "pelt, hide", portner “porter; janitor”, pund "pound", præst "priest", regne "calculate; consider", regning "calculation", regningskab (now regnskab) "accounts", rente "interest, dividend", sadelmager "saddler", skomager "cobbler" (replaced suder), skrædder "tailor", slagter "butcher" (replaced kødmanger), snedker “joiner”, told “customs, duty”, tømmermand "ship-wright", udgift "expenditure", vare "product, article", værkmester “foreman”, værksted "workshop", værktøj “tool”.

(Some in this category have disappeared or are seldom encountered because the trade, profession or occupation is obsolete, e.g. bægermager “cup maker”, fyrbøder “stoker”, hjulmager “wheelwright”, pottemager “potter”, buntmager “furrier”, kedelflikker “tinker”, skoflikker “cobbler”, klokkeguder “clock caster”, plåtslagare (Swed.) “plate smith”, slutter “gaoler”, spillemand “minstrel”, stratenrøver “highwayman”, væbner “weaponsmith”).

2.     Tools and implements: bolt “bolt”, fork “pitchfork”, fusthammer “hammer for horseshoes”, høvl “plane”, knibtang “pincers”, skrue “screw”, fyrtøj “tinderbox”.

3.     Court and nobility: eventyr "adventure, fairy tale", frøken "young woman, Miss", fyrste "prince", greve "count, earl", herre "lord" (now "gentleman"), hertug "duke" (replaced native jarl), hof "court", hofmester "steward" (now "waiter"), hovmod "pride", jagt “hunting”, jomfru "noble young lady" (now "virgin"), junker "nobleman", kejser “emperor”, krone "crown", ridder "knight", slot "castle, palace", væbner "squire", ære “honour, glory”, ærlighed "honour".

4.     Government, law and church: almisse “alms”, bann “excommunication”, borger "citizen", borgmester "burgomaster", burskap (Swed.) “freedom”, domherre "judge" (now dommer), embedsmand "goverment offical" (cf. English loan from Swedish ombudsman), forbud “ban”, fordel "advantage", forhør “inquiry; interrogation”, fuldmagt "authority", kansler “chancellor”, kætter “heretic”, lægmand “layman”,  magt "power", mester “master”, nåde “grace; mercy”, oldermand "alderman", pant “lien”, pave “pope”, pinse “Whitsun”, påske “Easter”, regere "rule", rådhus “town hall”, rådmand "alderman", sprog “language”, straf “punishment”, told "duty, customs", trykkeri “printing works”, tugthus “prison”, tvist “dispute”, vægter “watchman”.

5.     Military: afdelning “unit, detachment”, anfalde “attack”, angreb “attack”, armborst “crossbow”, befaling “command”, befalla (Swed.) “order, command”, bøsse “gun”, erobre "conquer", fane "banner, standard", fejde "feud; war", flag “flag”, fodgænger "infantryman" (now "pedestrian"), gevær "gun, rifle", harnesk “armour”, høvedsmand "captain", kamp "battle", krig "war", krudt “gunpowder”, kunskapare (Swed.) “scout”, magt “power”, nederlag "defeat", orlog "naval battle", overfalde “attack, assault”, panser "armour", plyndre "plunder", rejse (with the meaning) "campaign", trommeslager “drummer”.

6.     Shipping, fishing and navigation*: agter "astern", bådsmand "boatswain", dok “dock”, dørk “floor”, fartøj "vessel", fiskeri “fishing”, flag "flag", fok “foresail, jib”, fribytter “freebooter, buccaneer”, gast “hand”, haj "shark", kaj "quay", klyver “jib”, kyst "coast", lods “pilot”, malstrøm "whirlpool, maelstrom", mandskab "crew", matros “sailor”, roder (Swed.) “rudder”,  ræling “gunwale”, skipper “skipper”, stuva “stow”, styrbord "starboard", styrmand "first mate; helmsman", sælhund "seal", tackla (Swed.) “rig”.

7.     Relationships etc.: fadder “godparent”, formynder “guardian”, fætter “cousin”, gemal “consort”, oldefar “great-grandfather”, oldemor “great-grandmother”, pebersvend “bachelor”, slægt “kindred, relations”, svoger “brother-in-law”, til ægte “have someone’s hand in marriage”, ægteskab “marriage”.

8.     Food: bakelse (Swed.) “pastry, cake”, brændevin “aquavit”, fennikel “fennel”, frokost “breakfast” (Dan.: lunch), frugt “fruit”, gaffel “fork”, husgeråd “kitchen utensils”, ingefær “ginger”, koge “cook; boil”, koldskål “cold buttermilk dish”, kop “cup”, krus “mug, tankard”, krydderi “spice”, køkken “kitchen”, medvurst “mettwurst”, mynte “mint”, måltid “meal”, mørbrad “tenderloin”, peber “pepper”, persille “parsley”, postej “pie”, senap “mustard”, skinke “ham”, smag “taste”, smage “(to) taste”, spæk “blubber, fat”, suppe “soup”, sylte “brawn”, tallerken “plate”, tallrik (Swed.) “plate”, vaffel “waffle”.

9.     Clothes: bukser “trousers”, dragt “dress, clothes”, ficka (Swed.) “pocket”, kappe “cloak, coat”, mössa (Swed.) “cap”, rock (Swed.) “coat”, skørt “skirt, petticoat”, strømpe “stocking, sock”, støvle “boot”.

10.                        Buildings, house and home: bädd (Swed.) “bed”, bænk “bench”, disk “counter”, fönster (Swed.) “window”, gemak “apartment”, herberg “shelter; hostel”, kammer “chamber”, kuffert “trunk”, kælder cellar”, køkken “kitchen”, lampe “lamp”, mur “wall”, skab “cupboard”, skorsten “chimney”, spejl “mirror”, sæbe “soap”, tegl “tile, brick”, trappe “stairs”, tæppe “carpet”.

11.                        Medical: brok “hernia”, feber “fever”, gigt “gout”, krank “ill”, kramp “cramp”, pokker “pox”, stær “cataract”, svulst “tumour”.

12.                        Misc: angst “anxiety”, anledning “ocassion, cause”, art “type”, digt “poem”, fiol “violin”, fløjte “flute”, forhold “conditions, relations, circumstances”, frygt “fear”, gunst “favour; mercy”, klokke “clock; bell”, kunst “art”, lykke “happiness; good fortune”, pligt “duty, obligation”, rygte “reputation; rumour”, slange “snake; hose”, iver “zeal, fervour”, fare “danger”, herkomst “origin, descent”, äventyr (Swed.) “adventure”, hovmod “pride, arrogance”, högfärd (Swed.) “pride, vanity, conceit”, bihang (Swed.) “appendix”, bilaga (Swed.) “enclosure, attachment”, uppförande (Swed.) “building; behaviour, conduct”, taske “bag”, lægmand “layman”, vandel “morals, good conduct”, videnskab “knowledge, science”, vemod “sadness, melancholy”, vilkår “conditions”.

13.                        Common and auxilary verbs: anføre “lead; state, quote”, anholde “arrest, apprehend”, anmelde “announce; subscribe”, anvende "use", arbejde "work", begribe "comprehend", begynde "begin", behøve “need”, berette “tell, narrate”, beskrive “describe”, bestemme "decide", betale "pay", betyde "mean", blive "become", bringe "bring", bruge "use", digte "compose, write, write poetry", erfare "experience", erhålla (Swed.) “obtain, receive”, fatte "comprehend", fordærve “spoil, corrupt”, forekomme "appear", forklare "explain", foreslå "suggest", forfatte “write, compose”, forlade “leave, abandon; forgive”, formå “be able to, be capable of”, fornøje “gratify, please”, forsage “renounce, give up”, forstå "understand", fortjene “deserve”, forsvinde "disappear", fortsætte “continue”, fortælle "tell, narrate", frukta (Swed.) “fear, dread”, fråga (Swed.) “ask”, føle "feel", förgäta (Swed.) “forget”, gælde “apply”, håbe "hope", klage "complain", koge "boil, cook", købe "buy", kæmpe "fight", lære "learn", mene "mean, intend", male "paint", opdage "discover", ordne "arrange", oversætte "translate", overveje "consider, comtemplate", pleje "be in the habit of", prate "chat" (now only "talk nonsense"), prøve "try", redde "save, rescue", rejse "travel", regne "estimate, reckon (with)", råbe “shout, cry out”, samle "collect", ske “happen”, skildre "describe", skrive “write”, slute "finish", smage "taste", snakke "talk, chat", spille "play", stille "put, place", straffe “punish”, støtte "support", tilgive “forgive, pardon”, trække "draw, pull", tænke “think”, undersøge "investigate", undgå "avoid", undkomme “escape”, undskylde "excuse", vandre “”walk, wander”, vare "last", øve "practice".

14.                        Common adjectives: alvorlig "serious", bange "afraid", berømt “famous”, billig "cheap", bra (Swed./Nor.) “good, excellent; well”/ brav (Dan.) “good, worthy”, dejlig "pleasant", dygtig "capable", egentlig "real; proper", elendig “wretched, miserable”, endelig "final", enig “united, agreed”, enkel "simple; single", evig “eternal”, falsk "false", fin “fine”, flink "clever", fri "free", frisk "fresh, healthy", fremmed "foreign, strange", from "pious", færdig "ready", forsigtig "cautious", gemen "public", grov “coarse”, hemmelig "secret", hændig "practical", herlig "splendid", høvisk "courteous", høflig "courteous", klar “clear; ready”, klejn “tiny; delicate”,  klog "wise", kort "short", krank "sick", læsbar “readible”, middelmådig "mediocre", mulig "possible", rar "nice, kind", rask "quick", rund “round”, skøn "pretty", smal “narrow”, smuk “fair, beautiful”, stille “still, quiet”, stolt "proud", svag "weak", tapper "brave", tilfreds "satisfied", underdanig “submissive, subservient”, ædel “noble”, ægte "genuine", ærlig “honest”, åbenbar "public, manifest".

15.                        Common adverbs, prepositions and conjuctions: alene “only, solely”, allerede “already”, blott (Swed.) “merely, only”, bra (Swed./Nor.) “well, excellently; very, awfully” / bravt (Dan.) “stoutly, well”, dog "however, yet", emellertid "however" (Swed.), forbi "past", ganske "quite; very", jo "yes indeed, certainly", likväl (Swed.), likevel (Nor.) "all the same, nevertheless", men "but", måske “perhaps, maybe” (Dan.) nemlig "namely, that is", overalt "everywhere", redan "already" (Swed.), samt "and also, plus", sikker "certainly", straks "immediately", sådan "such", temmelig "rather", tilsammen "in all, altogether", trods "despite", ur "from, of" (Swed.), vældig "awfully, very", øvrig "the rest, what's left".

(*note: there are many specialised loans for shipping and types of fish which are not included in the main lists below.)

Vibeke Winge points out interestingly enough that Danish words for artisans, goods and tools are by and large from MLG.

For about 300 years (approx. 1250-1550) Middle Low German was the language of prestige, close to the speakers’ own languages, from which Scandinavian speakers augmented their own because it was the fashion to do so, rather than from any real necessity (in some cases, however, they had no equivalent words in their own languages). Germans formed the intellectually and economically leading class, so making MLG the “feine Sprache” and one to be imitated. The Scandinavian citizen in his appearance and language tried to make the “fineness” of the German higher class his own. As Dahlberg puts it “Niederdeutsch wurde Modesache”. This factor no doubt eased considerably the passage of MLG words into Mainland Scandinavian. The non-clergy upper class and the middle classes used MLG as their favoured second language, as the royal family, the nobility, the merchants and the craftsmen were either German or had close ties with German-speakers. Otto Höfler is of the view that this language contact went on at a high level as in many cases the gender of MLG nouns is retained with their borrowing into Middle Scandinavian. Despite the men of the Hansa representing practical people – merchants, administrators, law-makers, shipwrights, sailors – there is no doubt they represented not only a higher material but also a higher intellectual culture than the native culture.

In the course of this process of borrowing, many Scandinavian arveord (words from the common Nordic stock), such as are in most cases still present in Modern Icelandic, developed direct competitors. Loans from MLG (lånord in the table below) considerably enriched the vocabularies of the mainland Scandinavian languages, and examples are to be found of word pairs which are roughly synonymous (and therefore competitive) in the modern languages from both native and borrowed sources, for example (Norwegian Bokmål unless stated):

 

Arveord

Lånord

ON (OSwed.)

Meaning

ale opp

opdra

ala upp

raise, bring up

allesteds

overalt

allsstaðr

everywhere

andlet; anlete (Swed.)

ansikt

andliti; andlite

face

bardage (arch.)

kamp

bardagi

battle

berg

klippe

bjarg

rock, mountain

besk

bitter

 

bitter

bjuda (Swed.)

befalla

biuþa

offer

borg

slot

borg

castle, fortress

borge

betala

borga, greiða

pay, defray

bot

vederlag

bót

recompense

bratt

steil; plutselig

brattr

steep; sudden

brygge

kai

bryggja

wharf

budskap

beskjed

boðskapr

message

bølgje; bölja (Swed.)

våg (arch., dial.); våg

bylgja; (OSwed.) bylghi

wave

börja (Swed.); byrje (Nyn.)

begynna; begynne

(OSwed.) byria, børia; (ON) byrja

begin

djerv

dristig

djarfr

brave

dugelig

flink

duglegr

capable, clever

dyrd (Swed., arch.)

ära

(OSwed.) dyrth

honour

eie

besitte

eiga

to own

ende

slutt

endi

end

ende

slutte

enda

to end

fager

skjønn, smukk

fagr

pretty, fine

fattigdom

armod

fátækr-

poverty

ferd

reise

ferð

journey

frende (arch.)

slektning

frændi

relative

gagn

fordel

gagn

benefit, gain

gave

skjenk

gjöf

gift

genast (Swed.)

strax

(OSwed.) genast

immediately

glad

fro

glaðr

cheerful, joyous

gjemme

bevare

gøyma

store, keep

glömma (Swed.)

förgäta

(OSwed.) gløma

forget

grein

fag

grein

branch, subject

grein

regnskab

grein

account

gripe

fange

grípa

grasp, grip

gälda (Swed.)

betala

(OSwed.) giælda

pay

heder

ære

heiðr

honour

hænde (Dan.), hende (Nor.)

ske

henda

happen, occur

hest

hingst

hestr

horse

hird

hof

hirð

court, retinue

hjelpe

støtte

hjálpa

to help

hjälpa (Swed.)

bistå

(OSwed.) hiælpa

to help

hug

sinn

hugr

mind

huske

erinde

hugsa

to remember

ild

fyr

eldr

fire

jorde

begrave

jarða

to inter

kjenne

føle

kenna

to feel

kjensle

følelse

kensl

feeling

kjære

klage

kæra

to complain

kledning

drakt

klæðnaðr

clothing, garb

kvede

dikt

kvæði

poem

kvide

angst

kviði

pain, anxiety, fear

leik

spill

leikr

play

leike

spille

leika

to play

lott

del

hlutr

lot, share

love

berømme

lofa

praise

lønnlig

hemmelig

leyniligr

secret

lød

farge

litr

hue, colour

makt

vald

máttr, veldi

power

meget

veldig

mjök

much, very, a lot

miskunnelig

barmhjertig

miskunnsamr

merciful

mista, tapa (Swed.)

förlora

(OSwed.) mista; tapa, tappa

to lose

morgenmat

frokost

morgunmatr

breakfast

mål; tungomål (Swed.)

språk

mál

language, speech

möta (Swed.)

drabba

(OSwed.) møta

meet

nytte

anvende, bruke

nýta

use

nåde

gunst

náðr

favour

ran

rov

rán

plunder, robbery

rane

røve, plyndre

ræna

to rob, plunder

redd

bange

hræddr

afraid

reddes

frykte

hræðast

to be frightened (of)

redsel

frykt

hræðsla

fear

rolig

stille

rólegr

quiet, calm

rope

skrike

hrópa

to shout

røyne (Nyn.)

erfare

reyna

to experience

røyne (Nyn.)

forsøke, prøve

reyna

to test, try

røynsle

erfarenhet

reynd

experience

sann

ekte

sannr

true

sanne

prøve

sanna

to verify, confirm

sende

skikke

senda

to send

si fra

berette

segja frá

to narrate, tell

si fra

fortelle

segja frá

to narrate, tell

si til

underrette

segja til

to give an account

skifte

dele

skipta

divide

skire

døpe

skíra

to baptise

skjønne

begripe, forstå

skynja

to grasp, comprehend

skydevåben (Dan.)

bøsse, gevær

(ON) skotvopn

firearm, rifle

skytevåpen

gevær

skotvopn

firearm, rifle

skär (Swed.)

klar

?

clear, pure

sorg (Swed.)

bekymmer

(OSwed.) sorgh

grief, care

spörja (Swed.)

fråga

(OSwed.) spyria

to ask

sted

plass

staðr

place

strand

kyst

strönd

coast, beach

strid

krig

stríð

war

styrka (Swed.)

bevisa

(OSwed.) styrkia

prove, attest

støe

støtte

stoða

to support

sveinn

knape

sveinn

squire, lad

svik

fals

svik

false, deceitful

svikte

bedra

svíkja

to deceive

syde

koke

sjóða

to boil

syssel

len

sýsla

administrative district

sømd

æra

?

honour

säng (Swed.)

bädd

(OSwed.) sæng, siang

bed

tala (Swed.)

prata

tala

speak, talk

tale

snakke

tala

talk, chat

telle

rekne

telja

count

dra(ge)

trekke

draga

pull, draw

turve (Nyn.); tarva (Swed.)

behøve; behöva

þarfa; (OSwed.) þarva

to need to

trygge

borge

tryggja

guarantee, secure

useier

nederlag

ósigur

defeat

vedgå

erkjenne (HG loan)

viðganga < ganga við

admit, acknowledge

veide

jage

veiða

to hunt

veik

svak

veikr

weak

velde

makt

veldi

power

verk

smerte

verkr

pain, ache

vindöga (arch., dial.); vindue (Dan.)

fönster

vindauga

window

vettug

klok

vitr

wise, sage

vorde

bli

verða

to become

vrang

falsk

rangr

false, incorrect

vård (Swed.)

vakt

(OSwed.) varþer

care, charge, guard

ætt

herkomst

ætterni

descent, lineage

ætt

slekt

ætt

kin, family

 

 

 

 

 

In some cases, the native Scandinavian word acquired a different or more narrow meaning, such as with syde "seethe, boil, fizz", which used to denote the wider-meaning "cook" now taken by MLG loan koke. Danish lød, once a general term meaning "colour", now denotes the narrower "hue, complexion" and has been largely replaced by loaned farve "colour; paint, dye" (In Norwegian, lød still denotes "colour", alongside commoner farge). In other cases, the native word survived but became marginalised or less used than the loanword, e.g. in Norwegian, the case of the loaned trekke and the native dra (in Danish, drage has in almost all cases been replaced by trække). Native Scandinavian mål, which used to mean “language” (cf. ON mál), has largely come to mean the narrower “dialect” (cf. though Swedish tungomål “language” from Old Swed. tungo mal). Also in Swedish native arvode (from Old Swed. arvoþe) has narrowed in meaning from “work” to “remuneration for work done”, presumably under the influence of MLG-derived arbete. Some further examples, now from Danish, will illustrate the weaker position of some native words against MLG import (near-)synomyns: Danish fager (cf. English fair) is now considered poetic and archaic, having been marginalised by the preferred and synonymous MLG import smuk (fager is also poetic in Norwegian); ræd is still in use but MLG import bange is definitely commoner (in Norwegian, however, the reverse is true); brat is also still in use, but both its meanings are more commonly covered by the MLG imports stejl for "steep" and pludselig for "sudden". Leika “play” was replaced by spille (< MLG spelen) when denoting playing music or acting.

In most cases, however, the old Nordic words simply fell out of use in Mainland Scandinavian, and loans from MLG (some of which could also be seen as unncessary) replaced them. Dahlberg makes a pertinent point in this connection:

Auf diese Weise sind leider viele einheimische, gut brauchbare Wörter verlorengegangen.” (p.196)

In the mainland languages, native vorde (Old Danish warthæ, Old Swedish varþa, cf. ON verða, German werden) has as good as been ousted by the MLG derived form bli(ve)/bliva (although vorde still survives in poetic and biblical usage). In Danish, the loaned forms arbejde "work" and men "but" ousted Old Danish ærvæthæ "work, labour" (cf. ON erfiði) and æn "but, and" (cf. ON en), as well as use of uden/utan “except”. Older Danish børje (cf. Swedish börja (which is still the preferred choice in that language), Nynorsk byrje) gradually lost the struggle against loaned begynde, while the same fate was suffered by older anlæte “face” to ansigt (anlete still exists in Swedish though alongside ansikte), øbe/öpa "cry, shout" to råbe/ropa (a Nordic word whose meaning has been influenced by the MLG cognate ropen) and MLG import skrige, older røne “try, experience” fell to prøve (cf. Norwegian røyne though) and genest fell to MLG import straks (genast still exists in Swedish though - alongside strax), in Swedish older fell to måste, Scandinavian ván “hope” was ousted by MLG hope (Danish håb, Swedish hopp), as was vónast by hopast, frjáls by fri, everðeligr by evig and samþykkiliga by endrægteliga, while common verbs of motion ganga and standa both lost out to MLG forms gân and stân, resulting in modern and stå. Furthermore, þarf fell to behóf “need”, gøyma and varðveita to bevara “preserve”, sanna and prófa to bevisa “show, demonstrate”, skipta to býta “change, swap”, lutr to deil “part”, vitr to klókr “wise”, giäf (Old Swed.) to gava, máttr and veldi to makt “might, power”, háttr to máti “custom; manner”, hyggja and ætla to meina “intend”, ætla to akta (MLG achten), kenna “teach” and nema “learn” to læra “learn; teach” (MLG lêren), (in Denmark) kenna lost meaning of “feel” to følæ (MLG vôlen), løyfi to orlof “leave”, stríð to krig “war”, ætt to slekt “lineage”, hyggia, ætla and hugsa to þenkia “think”. Furthermore, in Danish we can note the loss of neita to MLG-derived nægte, nytja to bruge, rædd to bange and reyna (ODan. rønæ) to forsøge. Social changes led to such words as bygd, træl, kone and rise becoming antiquated in Danish, although in modern times they have been partly revived due to Norwegian influence. Peter Skautrup notes some further words that were lost in Danish in the early modern period (1350-1500): bukser “trousers” replaced brog, dog “however” replaced tho, straks “immediately” replaced thegær, and sådan “such” replaced slig.

 

When a choice still exists and there are two forms to choose from, the Low German loan generally tends to take precedence. Some otherwise obsolete Norse forms, however, still survive and are used preferentially in Norwegian Nynorsk. There are far too many in Nynorsk to give here.

Following the MLG model in late medieval Swedish the k-sound was reproduced in writing as ch, and this can still be seen in och “and”, cf. Danish og. In Danish of the same period [sk] was written sch-, e.g. SchanningSkåne”.

In some cases words were borrowed differently or provided different inspiration in the respective recipient languages. So, for example, Danish loaned MLG merschûm “meerschaum” as merskum, whereas Swedish rather loan-translated it as sjöskum. Similarly, Danish loaned MLG schadenfroh (cf. German Schadenfreude) as skadefro, whereas Swedish loan-translated as skadeglad. In other cases one language borrowed a word which was never taken up in another. The classic example is Swedish fönster “window” where Danish still uses the Nordic word vindue.  Other well-known examples are Swedish bädd versus Danish seng, Swedish börja versus Danish begynde, Swedish fråga versus Danish spørge, Swedish förgäta versus Danish glemme, Swedish ficka versus Danish lomme, Danish føle versus Swedish känna, Swedish hustru versus Danish kone, Swedish rita versus Danish tegne, Swedish skicka versus Danish sende, and Swedish äta versus Danish spise. More examples are given in the table below:

 

MLG-derived word

Native Nordic equivalent

Meaning

Swedish

Danish

 

anspråk

krav, fordring

claim

belåten

mæt

satisfied, full

bittida

tidlig

early

bädd

seng

bed

drabba

træffe

hit, strike, befall

ficka

lomme

pocket

flod

elv

river

fort

rask, hurtigt

fast, quickly

fråga

spørge

ask

fönster

vindue

window

förgäta

glemme

forget

förlora

miste, tabe

lose

förlust

tab

loss

förstöra

ødelægge

destroy, wreck

hustru

kone

wife

hyra

leje

rent, hire

inrymma

inholde

contain, include

lärjunge

lærling

apprentice

ort

sted

place, locality

rita

tegne

draw

skicka

sende

send, dispatch

stad

by

town

tillhopa

helt, helt og aldeles

altogether, in all

umbära

undvære

do/go without

upprepa

gentage

repeat

uppsåt

forsæt (also from MLG)

intent, purpose

även

også, ligeledes

also, too

***

***

***

Danish

Swedish

 

altid

jämt

always

bange

rädd

afraid

begynde

börje

begin

forfærdelig

hemsk

awful

forkert

orätt, vrång

wrong, incorrect

forlade

lämna

leave

fornøden

---

necessary, needful

forskel

skillnad

difference

føle

känna

feel, perceive, know

hvordan

hur

how

kundskab

kännedom

knowledge

men

utan

but

måske

kanske, kanhända (ske and hända also from MLG)

perhaps

nøle

tveka

hesitate

omtrent

omkring

around, about

rejse (køre is Nordic however)

åka

go, drive, travel

slem

elak

bad, nasty

smuk

fager, vacker

pretty, fair

spise

äta

eat

straks

genast

immediately

sådan

dylik

such

tænke

tycka

think

undertiden

ibland, stundom

sometimes

undervejs

---

underway, in motion

undskylde

ursäkta

excuse

årsag

skäl (orsak also exists in Swedish)

reason, cause

 

The average speaker in Bergen, Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm could not help learning enough Middle Low German to be tempted to colour their speech and writing with them. The German settlers enjoyed the economic and social advantage and it was natural for the locals to use a kind of Mischsprache for their communication needs. The settlers from northern Germany put down their roots not only in the commercial centres but in all towns in Norway and their higher status meant that they did not need to learn the complexities of the Norse language.

This settlement resulted in a large expansion of the vocabulary for everyday things, as well as more abstract concepts, and the developing urban dialects were strongly characterised by Low German loans. The influence of Middle Low German on the later development of the Scandinavian languages was succinctly described by the Norwegian Nordicist Didrik Arup Seip when he remarked:

"Two Norwegians cannot in our day carry on a conversation of 2-3 minutes without using Low German loanwords...of course without knowing that they are doing so."

This statement applies in equal measure to Swedish, and perhaps even in slightly greater measure to Danish.

As we would expect, it would be reasonable to suppose that because of its geographical proximity, as well as closer political and trading ties, Denmark was the initial borrower of most of these terms. It is at any rate unlikely to have received many terms later than Swedish, and in fact probably transmitted not a few items into Swedish and Norwegian, rather than MLG itself being the donor language. There are only a few cases, however, for which it can be proven by linguistic methods that MLG words came into Swedish via Danish. The most typical Danicism in phonology – the weakening of intial stops k, p and t – has only left small traces in Swedish (one therefore concludes that the transmission into Swedish was overwhelmingly direct). Both Swedish and Danish opened the door in Norwegian to MLG words and they had already borrowed many words, especially in the written language. Because all three languages took up much the same MLG words and word-forming elements, it in some respects brought the three languages closer together.

According to some Swedish linguists up to 75% of the modern Swedish vocabulary derives from MLG or MLG-mediated words. (But this figure is clearly absurd – the actual percentage must be much lower, probably 25-30%). Most of such words came into Old Swedish in the 12th-14th centuries. In fact it is difficult to arrive at a reliable figure, but there can be no doubt that MLG loans, words inspired by them or words made form originally MLG elements are among the most common in the language.

In many cases the loans were for new concepts, e.g. borgmeistari and radman – these were institutions not previously in existence in Scandinavia. New professions or offices were imported that bore the name of the owner or actor, e.g. skómakari, bartskærer, bøssemager, maler, pladeslager, mægler, portner, tolk. Even the word handel “trade” is itself of MLG origin. Furthermore in connection with their notable seafaring prowess the Low German seamen and traders brought with them such loans as galei, jakt, kogge, mers and mast.

Some MLG words were importated to express negative or destructive elements in society, e.g. skalkar “rogue”, rövare “robber, thief” and bödel “hangman”.

To describe animals there were also new words such as bæver, falk “falcon”, flädermus (Swed.) “bat”, hingst “stallion”, kamel, lærke “lark”, løve “lion”, näktergal (Swed.) “nightingale”, panter, rotte “rat”, sköldpadda “tortoise, turtle”, vagtel “quail”. These words often eventually rendered the native terms – if such existed – obsolete.

Swedish took in most loans after 1350, where we find such everyday words as bädd, frukost, rock, språk, släkt, fri, from, klar, klen, smal, arbeta, bliva, bruka, lära, smaka, sådan. Other loans from MLG are falskhet (valschheit), frihet (vrîheit), and ärlighet (êrlikheit). Of words made on Danish or Swedish soil but formed using MLG elements we could mention such words as benægte, begagna, benägen, forfremme, forsinke, förbrylla, undeselig and undvære (loaned into Swedish as umbära).

Many common, everyday words which make up a speaker of modern Scandinavian’s basic vocabulary were brought in during this period of Hansa domination when MLG when the prestige language, e.g. nouns such as arbete “work” bevis “proof, evidence”, bukse “trousers”, fel “error” förstånd “reason, intelligence”, kopp “cup”, papir “paper”, skrin “box”, støvler “boots”, tröja “sweater”, tvivel “doubt”, vilkor “conditions” verbs such as bevisa “prove, show”, forklare “explain”, forlike “reconcile”, mene “mean, intend”, prøve “test” and skaffe “procure”, adjectives such as falsk “false”, fin “fine”, främmande “foreign”, färdig “ready, done”, klok “wise”, möjlig “possible” svag “weak”, adverbs such as altid “always”, bittida “early”, blott “only”, ganske “quite”, straks “immediately” and även “also”, and conjunctions such as jo “yes; oh” and men “but”. We could also mention some common expressions that came into Mainland Scandinavian from MLG: dit og dat “one thing and another” (dit un dat), få i sigte “to sight” (sichte), göra klart “make clear; prepare”, klappet og klart “ready, all set” (klapp un klar), med rätta “rightly, justly” and till godo “to the good, in credit”, til rette “in order, to rights” (to rechte). We can also note that the plural of Swedish stad “town” is städer, which is due to MLG influence (in Old Swedish it would be stathir).

A word frequency study by Martin Gellerstam of 6,000 of the most common Swedish words shows that 24.1% of these are from German and for 30.3% of the words, German was the medium of borrowing. And yet to a modern speaker of Scandinavian the low and high German element in their languages now appear as if they were there from the beginnings of the language. As Gellerstam puts it:

Vem tycker idag att de lågtyska lånen språk, arbete, lära, fråga är något annat än gamla hederliga svenska ord?”.

Dierecks and Braunmüller, quoting Moberg, make the point of how easy it was for words of MLG origin to enter the Swedish language and quickly become adopted:

Die Anpassung der mittelniederdeutschen Lehnwörter an das altschwedische Flexionssystem konnte im allgemeinen ohne größere Schwierigkeiten geschehen. Aufgrund der ähnlichen Struktur und oft verwandten Wortbildungsmuster konnten viele Substantive, Adjektive und Verben relativ einfach an entsprechende einheimische Wortgruppen anschließen.” (p.23)

 

Another point worth bearing in mind is how the mutual loaning into the Nordic languages meant all three languages more closely approached each other in terms of vocabulary, something which no doubt eased communication between Scandinavian speakers and continues to do so today.

 

It is just at the end of the middle ages that the modern Scandinavian languages were taking shape and precisely during and by the end of the this period of MLG influence that modern Scandinavian languages as we know them were coming into being. MLG had much to do with their modernisation and the present form. As Marquardsen says of Danish:

Diese moderne Form, die sich während der zweiten Hälfte des 14. und im 15. Jahrhundert herausbildete, weicht so wesentlich von der Sprache der vorhergehenden Period ab, dass innerhalb des Zeitraums von 1350-1500 eine durchgreifende Veränderung der Dänischen Sprache zu constatieren ist.” (p.405-406).

 

Borrowed Affixes

German-derived prefixes and suffixes play a major role in the modern Scandinavian languages.

Scandinavian speakers were adept at resolving Middle Low German forms into their own sound and inflexional systems, and many affixes borrowed from Middle Low German later became productive in the formation of native Scandinavian words on home soil. Middle Low Saxon and Middle Dutch thus had an effect at a morphological level, as well as a lexical one. Indeed the fact that such word-forming elements were borrowed and made so productive serves to stress just what an extraordinary influence MLG exerted on the Mainland Scandinavian languages (it is true to say, however, that the language was already in the process of simplification before contact with MLG – but this language contact accelerated and intensified the change). Native abstract suffixes which were common to North and West Germanic -dom, -inge and -skap were revitalized and the vocabulary enriched owing to masses of MLG imports in -schap, -inge, -en(t) and -nisse which become productive elements in the borrowing languages (with -nisse becoming -else in Scandinavian), e.g. broderskap, betalning, bedrövelse. Furthermore, the elements -hed/-het, -inde/-inne and -ske/-ska which appeared in the 1300s were better suited to the creation of new words than the native affixes, some of which were weakened by syncope and the reduction of unstressed syllables, meaning there were fewer options for word-formation based on native Scandinavian elements. The imported elements thus fulfilled a need. The suffix -hed becomes completely common in Danish during the 1400s. The native intensifying prefix for-/för- was reactivated by MLG vor- (and later by High German) – new words coined from native resources with this prefix are legion, for example, forarbejde “prepare, process”, forbedret “improved”, fortabe “forfeit”, forskyde “displace”, forøde “waste, squander”, forglemme “forget” (ODan. forglømæ based on MLG vorgeten), forbryde “forfeit” (ODan. forbrytæ based on MLG vorbrêken). MLG -ent is still very productive in Swedish forming nouns in -ende and -ande, e.g. letande “searching”, vetande “knowledge, learning”. The adjective suffixes -agtig/-aktig (equivalent to HG -haftig), -bar, -dan, -vortes/-vörtes were borrowed after around 1400. Native suffix -sk became -isk from a MLG model, while -ugh became -ig (see below).

Kurt Braunmüller makes the point that the loaning of word-forming elements from MLG changed the nature of the Scandinavian languages, making them less Nordic in character and bringing them closer to West Germanic:

Ein Ergebnis dieses intensiven Sprachkontakts war – wie gezeigt – z.B. die typologische Annäherung des Skandinavischen an das Mnd./Westgermanische auf den Gebieten der Morphologie und besonders der Wortbildung.” (p.159).

H. Bach makes the interesting observation that these borrowed affixes became so productive with both loaned and native lexical elements that the Scandinavian languages have in the course of time developed a large number of words which now have direct parallels in modern High German, which separately created the same words using the same affixes and lexical material. There are far too many to examine here, but a few examples will suffice to clarify the point: forandring <> Veränderung, forfalske <> verfälschen, fordragelig <> verträglich, indgang <> Eingang, udgang <> Ausgang, udsætte <> aussetzen, opgang <> Aufgang, overenstemmende <> übereinstimmend, medarbejder <> Mitarbeiter, modstand <> Widerstand, tilflugt <> Zuflucht, tilstand <> Zustand, tillade <> zulassen, undergang <> Untergang, understøtte <> unterstützen.

What follows is a list of the main affix loans, illustrated with examples from all three modern languages (many of these will be familiar to readers who know German):

 

Nordic affix

Affix (MLS)

Modern examples

Meaning

an- (late 1300s)

an-

anbefale, anklage, angrepp

recommend, accuse, attack

be- (since 1350)

be-, bi-

bidrage, behandle, betænke, beslut

contribute, treat, consider, decision

bi- (Swed.)

bi-

bifalla, bistå

assent, support

fore-

vor-

forekomst, foretrække, foredrag

occurrence, lecture/address

för- (Swed.)

vor-

försiktig, fördöma

cautious/careful, condemn

om-

um-

omgive, omstendighet, omkreds

surround, circumstance, circumference

over-

over-

overbevise, overhøre, oversætte

convince, interrogate, translate

över- (Swed.)

over-

övermod, översätta

arrogance/pride, translate

un-/und- (since around 1400)

unt-

undgå, undskylde, unnvære

escape/evade, excuse, do or go without

-aktig (Swed. post-1450, Nor.);
-agtig (Dan.)

-achtich

varaktig, karlaktig, lögnaktig, dåraktig, småaktig, byagtig, livagtig, nøjagtig

enduring, manly, lying,  foolish/silly,petty, urban, lifelike, precise

-ande (c.1400 in Swed.),

-ende (Dan., Nor.)

 -ent

inflytande, forehavende, udseende

influence, enterprise, appearance

-bar (1500s in Swed.)

-bâr

brukbar, frugtbar, kostbar, holdbar, strafbar, stridbar, åbenbar

usable, costly/precious, durable/tenable, punishable

-dan (Dan.)

-dân(ne)

sådan, ligesådan, hvordan, ligedan

 

so, thus, similar, how, similar

-else (many orig. in –nisse)

-sel

skapelse, overdrivelse, spøgelse

shape/creation, exaggeration, spectre

-are (Swed.), -er (Dan., Nor.)

-êre

borgare, jägare, bæger, maler, lærer

citizen, hunter, beaker, painter, teacher

-eri (pre-1400 in Dan.)

-erîe

fiskeri, bedrageri, tyveri, skriveri, slagteri

fishery, fraud, theft, abattoir

-(er)ska (Swed.)

-ske (Dan.) (pre-1400)

-ersche

tvätterska, studentska, syerske, husholderske

laundress, student, seamstress, housekeeper

-het (Swed. pre-1375; Nor.),
-hed (Dan.)

-heit,     -hêt

nyhed, storhet, flertydighet, rigtighed

novelty, greatness, ambiguity, correctness/truth

-häftig (Swed. post-1450), -heftig (Nor)

-haftig (Dan)

-heftich

mandhaftig, standhaftig

mannish, firm

-inna (Swed.)
-inde (Dan.) (pre-1400)
-inne (Nor.)

-inne,    -in

furstinna, hertuginde, grevinde, gudinna

princess, duchess, countess, goddess

-isk (loaned or influenced)

-isch

høvisk, upprorisk, jordisk

courteous, rebellious, earthly/wordly

-liken

-ligen (Swed.)

-liken

troligen, skäligen,

very likely, rather; reasonably,

-mager (Dan.)

-maker (Nor.)

-makare (Swed.)

-maker

hattemager, skomager, urmaker

hatter, cobbler, watchmaker

-näre (Swed.), -ner (Dan., Nor.)

-(e)nêre

kunstner, gartner, väpnare

artist, gardener, squire

-skap (Swed., Nor.)
-skab (Dan.)

-schap

vennskap, landskab, ekteskap, borgerskab

friendship, landscape, marriage

-slager (Dan.)

-släger

blikkenslager, plattenslager

tinsmith, con man

 

Not all of these affixes are productive in the modern languages. Some like an-, be-/bi-, fore-/för-, -ska and und-/unn- are no longer productive as word forming elements, while om- and over-/över- are active elements. The following suffixes used to form adjectives, agent nouns and abstract nouns are still very productive: -aktig/-agtig, -bar (also from HG influence), -else, -er, -hed/-het, -ig/-lig. Productive adjectival endings in the past were -et, -sk, -som (agtsom, arbejdsom, beslutsom) and -vorn (drillevorn, sladdervorn, slingrevorn). Most of these suffixes could be used with both native and loaned words. –else becomes much used with word material of native Scandinavian origin. Old Scandinavian was relatively poor in word-forming elements for abstract concepts, whereas MLG provided such elements in abundance.

Niels Åge Nielsen’s Dansk Etymologisk Ordbog (3rd ed. 1976) contained no less than 283 words with the MLG-derived prefix be-. A large dictionary of Danish will contain many more.

Although -ing was productive and native to the Old Scandinavian dialects, this noun-forming suffix was greatly expanded in terms of use and scope owing to MLG influence, in which the suffix was highly productive (it is also native to the West Germanic languages cf. Eng. -ing, Dutch -ing, German -ung). Since -ing had a direct native equivalent in Old Swedish (Danish, Norse), it could easily be loaned in or form new words without further ado. In Swedish and Norwegian (especially Nynorsk), -ing has been replaced by variant -ning. This element often denoted an activity or person.

The same ease of adoption cannot be ascribed to another MLG noun-forming suffix, -nisse (cf. Eng. -ness, German -nis), which as stated in the table above, has been transformed into -else in the modern Scandinavian languages, from association with a small group of words in the languages which originally had this ending (e.g. Old Danish døpælsæ from Old Saxon dopilsi). Thus MLG vengenisse becomes fängelse “prison”, begencnisse becomes begängelse “cremation”, bedrovenisse becomes bedrøvelse “sorrow, grief” and schickenisse becomes skickelse “decree”. Initially only appearing in loanwords, it later quickly became productive in the formation of new compounds made from native Danish words, e.g. hændelse “event, occurrence”, styrelse “control, governance”, lignelse “likeness”, tilhørelse “belonging”, skikkelse “form; character”, velsignelse “blessing” and fristelse “temptation” etc. This suffix became far more productive in the Scandinavian languages than did the corresponding element -ilsi in German. However, according to Norwegian linguists Didrik Arup Seip and Olav Næs this ending in -else is native and found in south-east Norwegian as early as 1150, i.e. before it was used to domesticate words from MLG. It has to be said that Seip and Næs are in a minority in this belief.

The prefix be- first appeared in Norwegian in 1376 (behalda) – bytala was already known in Swedish from 1370. Bitala appeared in Norwegian before 1400, beating off competition from the native terms gjalda, greiða and reiða.

The prefix und- was related to ON undan meaning that words such as undfly were supported by native fly undan.

The suffix -heit is found in Norwegian as early as 1353. It was already productive in Danish and Swedish for making abstract words (e.g. falskhet, frihet, ärlighet, gudelighed, vanvittighed, retighed, vitterlighed, barmhjertighed, with wârheit and swârheit providing the models for sandhed and tunghed), and in Norwegian it become the most productive suffix for turning adjectives into nouns, so making it difficult for scholars to decide whether a word was borrowed or formed on home soil. So, for example, in Middle Danish, witscap “knowledge” could be a native construct as both wit + -skap are found in the language. But the word is thought to be loaned in its entirety from MLG witscap. This element -hed competed with native -lek and -ned and as good as ousted them from Danish (-nad is somewhat common in Swedish and Norwegian however).

The suffixes -dom and -skap were rare, however they are found in small number of words, e.g. vennskap, borgerskap, hedendom, trældom.

The affixes ge- and er- appeared late (around 1550 and the late 1500s respectively) and were probably more due to the influence of High German than Low German.

In the 1400s -eri appeared in Norwegian and was used for a range of professions and business institutions (thus denoting activity or place of activity) e.g. skriveri, as well as forming words with derogatory meanings such as ketteri, røveri, svineri, tiggeri, snobberi. It is also still productive in Danish and Swedish (e.g. avguderi “heathendom”, baktalari “slander”). Another important suffix is represented by nouns ending in -er and denoting “doer/agent”, e.g. borger, lærer.

The other main affixes are detailed in the lists below. Mention also needs to be made of MLG influence on the use of the native adjective and adverbial ending, -lig (-ig). Although this element is common Germanic (cf. ON -ligr, -legr, OE -lîc, OHG -lîh, Goth. -leiks, ODan. -likær, OSwed. -lîker), its present popularity and widespread usage in word-formation has a great deal to owe to MLG influence, through the suffix -lîk. Niels Åge Nielsen (see booklist) makes the point in his Dansk Etymologisk Ordbog:

"De Nord. adj. (og adv.) på -lig er for en stor dels vedkommende lånt fra el. påvirket af de modsv. former mnty. -lîk, nty. -lik, ty. -lich." (P.261; he then procedes to give a list of examples of native words in -lig and those which have been loaned from, or influenced by, MLG). Indeed, the nominalizing suffix -leikr almost disappeared in Danish, and fell togther with the adjectival ending -lig (but cf. Norwegian kjærleik, Swedish kärlek).

Similar observations regarding Swedish -ig are made by Bertil Molde (see booklist below):

"Att -ig dominerar som avledningselement för adjektivbildning (blodig, stenig) beror också i hög grad på inflytande från lågtyskan." (p.78)

The influence of MLG adjectival suffix -ich was to render native nouns in -ogh to change form to -ig (an easy change), words in -ig were activated and became productive due to MLG influence.

Direct loans, however, are, for example, Middle Swedish ävigh “eternal”, pliktligh “bound, obliged” and värdigh “worthy” from MLG êwich, pliktigh and werdich.

Forms in -ug from a native Swedish adjectival suffix are still, however, found in some northern Swedish dialects e.g. nyttug “useful”, stenug “stony”, tokug “silly”.

Diminutives -ken, -ke and -lín (cf. German -chen, -lein) as a rule only exist in direct loans from MLG, e.g. frøken “Miss”, tallerken “plate”, nellike “clove”, sønneke “lad, sonny”, hønnike “pullet”.

H. Bach mentions lykke, klog and smuk as probable Modewörter, and points out that these words are MLG imports in High German as well.

Middle Low German had a slighter effect on syntax and such morphological aspects as nominal inflexional endings, although most scholars do agree that that MLG influence is behind the general levelling of the Scandinavian inflexional system and the more analytic (relying on word order to convey meaning), rather than synthetic (case-endings bear the grammatical information) structure of Scandinavian syntax which developed over the period in question, meaning that by the 1500s the Mainland Scandinavian languages had developed into the language stage we have now. (The most intense period of language contact appears to have been 1300s and 1400s, and the Nordic languages were most influenced during this period of high intensity). As Lars S. Vikør puts it (p.41): “The influence from Low German may have been even more profound…it may have stimulated the morphological simplification of [Mainland] Scandinavian.” That having been said, inflexional levelling and increasingly analytical syntax has occurred in all the Germanic languages to a greater (e.g. English) or lesser (e.g. German) extent, regardless of the nature of language contacts. Some commentators have argued that these features were the result of Low German users being unable to speak Scandinavian correctly and so a grammatically-simplified Mischsprache arose - which is a defensible viewpoint. (This view is especially prominent among Swedish scholars). The real nature of such a mixed language first becomes clear when the number of loanwords has reached such an extent that a direct effect on the grammatical structure of the native language is visible. Many of the MLG words did not fit easily into the Scandinavian case system and this leads to the alternative view, i.e. that the loanwords themselves were the cause of the loss of the classic case system. Keith Boden presents a counter-argument to the Mischsprache theory, pointing out that Hanseatic Germans, as the speakers of the prestige language, would have no motivation to learn Scandinavian until the decline of the Hansa and the resurrgence of the Scandinavian kingdoms. Therefore improper learning by Low German speakers cannot account for the MLG influence on the Scandinavian form system.  Whatever the cause, however, it seems likely, as argued above, that MLG contact both accelerated and helped determine the direction of these already existing processes in the Mainland Scandinavian languages.

In summary of the above, worth repeating here are comments made by Bertil Molde concerning the relative ease with which MLG loans could be assimilated into the native Scandinavian phonological, morphological and lexical systems:

"Detta lågtyska språk hade på vissa viktiga punkter stora likheter med svenskan (och danskan). Det hade t.ex. inte högtyskans diftonger, och den s.k. högtyska ljudskridningen (dvs. övergangen av t.ex. äldre /p/ till /f/) hade inte genomförts i lågtyskan. Detta gjorde att lågtyskan hade ordformer som sten, hûs, ôge, tunge, dragen, gripen (motsvarande högtyskans Stein, Haus, Auge, Zunge, tragen, greifen) dvs. former som uttals- och stavningsmässigt låg mycket nära svenskans. Sådana likheter mellan lågtyskan och den medeltida svenskan var av avgörande betydelse för möjligheterna för svenskan att ta emot lån från lågtyskan. Dessa lån kom att bli av väldig omfattning, och de finns inom praktiskt taget alla områden." (p.77)

and further:

"Deres allmänna struktur (i fråga om ljud, stavning, böjning) låg redan från början så nära strukturen hos inhemska ord att assimilations processen gick snabbt." (p.79)

To those listed by Molde, we might add such MLG forms as open, tam, eten, riden, vören, varen, leggen, setten, gôt and dôt (cf. the close Swedish words öppen, tam, äta, rida, föra, fara, lägga, sätta, god and död). Compare these with the rather more distant High German offen, zahm, essen, reiten, führen, fahren, liegen, setzen, gut and tot.

This closeness in vocabulary and sounds of the language is given by Moberg as one important reason why MLG did not become the language of the Scandinavian nations despite being so well ingrained. The Scandinavian languages were close enough to MLG for it not to seem very alien and due to the loaning of new, productive affixes, speakers of Scandinavian were quite easily able to form new words based on either native or loaned elements as the need arose. The natives did not feel they were learning and using a language so different from their own. The fact that elements with no independent meaning could be loaned from one language to another and form productive word classes indicates the in some respects closeness of MLG and the late medieval Scandinavian languages.

Furthermore, a class of bilingual speakers which arose from intermarrying between the natives and the Low German immigrants would have intensified the influence of MLG on the less prestigious Scandinavian languages and is another reason why MLG came to impact on Scandinavian in the way that it did. Moberg mentions a Helmik van Nörden who kept the records for Stockholm’s rådstuga at the close of the 1400s. Helmik does not hesitate to use words with originally Low German endings affixed to native bases, e.g. sanhet, thunghet for MLG wârheit and swârheit. He switches effortlessly between native läkiare “doctor”and import arst, between native vindögha “window” and import fenster, and between native anlite “face” and import ansikt.

Gradually as the power of the Hanseatic League declined in the 1400s, and the New World was discovered, so did the influence of Middle Low German on the Nordic tongues. (However, as Ahldén demonstrates in his article, MLG loans into Scandinavian continued in far smaller numbers into the 1800s). It is unlikely that many Scandinavians developed a full command of MLG. This partial bilingualism gradually faded, the Germans were assimilated and soon spoke a Scandinavian coloured by LG.

At the same time, the advent of printing, and later the Luther Bible, brought a new High German influence to bear. Indeed, the many MLG loans in the Mainland Scandinavian languages eased the passage for these High German loans or models to begin arriving in force from the middle of the 1500s. The 1526 Swedish New Testament was aimed at the town dwellers and eschewed older native words and expressions such as found in the Vadestena Bible with the aim of being clear and easily understandable for its intended audience, who were by now users of a considerable number of Low German loanwords. So we find words such as fråga instead of native spörja, begynna instead of native börja, behaga and behaglig instead of native thäkkias and thäkkelig, måste instead of måtte, ansikte instead of anlete. The Scandinavian letter å came in from around this time from the Low German literary tradition. Not only the Bible but many psalms and songs were based on German models.

By 1540 the chancellery of the Danish king had made the switch to High German. The Lutheran Reformation in particular, opened the way for a flood of High German lexical items and syntactical influence. Many of the men of the Swedish Reformation had been schooled in Germany. High German as a source of loans and other linguistic features, which was still very influential up until 1945, will be considered in a separate article. It is as well to point out here, however, that MLG loans and words based on MLG loaned elements have never been as much the object of the language purists’ energies as the later High German imports – indeed many could barely identify MLG words to be such, so ingrained were they in the language.

MLG would have been reflected in speech before writing, so our knowledge of its exact route is limited. One of the greatest controversies in this field is whether the loans in Swedish came in via Danish, or directly from MLG. For a small number of words, e.g. bagare, the forms in Swedish indicate that they have passed through Danish first. But for the great majority of the words in Swedish the jury is still out until more detailed studies are made. This controversial but important issue cannot be considered any further here.

Whatever their route, MLG-derived words are attested even in rural Swedish dialects by the late 1500s and studies by Lennart Elmevik have shown that the dialects have been penetrated by LG to a far higher extent than previously believed.

By 1600 the MLG loans were so well assimilated that few suspected such words were of foreign origin (unlike many later High German loans that were purged from the languages). Nowadays only linguists among Scandinavian speakers recognize that such words are of MLG origin.

When Esaias Tegnér the Elder (1782-1846) in the poem Språken (1817) described Swedish as “Ärans och hjältarnas språk!”, he presumably was not aware of the irony that the three nouns in his sentence are all descended from MLG!! (êre, helt, sprâke).

**

*NOTE: these lists can only give some of the more common, important or else interesting MLG loans. There are thousands and whole books have been written detailing them. Deliberately excluded are some specialised registers, especially in the field of fishing and shipping, but also quite a few terms about the natural world. All the words in the lists, as far as I know, are still current in all or at least one of the Mainland Scandinavian languages - and the lists give the modern forms of these, along with their current meanings. Loans into Icelandic and Faroese from MLG are a separate and more complex issue and will be treated later. However a few general remarks about the uptake of Low German loans into these insular Nordic languages is appropriate now.

Icelandic and Faroese received far fewer direct loans from Middle Low German mainly owing to their remote location and trade agreements with Norway, and later, Denmark. Most loans into these North Atlantic languages therefore were taken up indirectly with Norwegian or Danish (especially the latter) acting as an intermediary. There were fewer loans into Icelandic compared to the mainland, but those that existed were used with vigour in the learned written language until the 1600s when the tide began to turn against them. Such loans (as well as those that were entirely Mainland Scandinavian in origin) were increasingly frowned upon as corruptive and unncessary. This feeling gradually increased and culminated last century in the hreintungustefna (policy of linguistic purism) which still defines the criteria concerning the adoption of foreign words into Icelandic. Many Low German loans through Danish as well as pure Danish words have been ejected in favour of native constructs and most of the productive word-forming elements loaned from the original imports have been cleansed from the written language. The result is a purer but rather different Icelandic from that of the 1600s and before. A similar principle guides some of the more ardent adherents of Norwegian Nynorsk, who want to see Low German "interference" minimised. The situation with Faroese is rather more complicated, as the language is still subjected to considerable Danish influence. There has been a movement for a less mixed language there too, but the impetus has been weaker. Consequently the Low German lexical influence in Faroese (mostly through Danish) is more noticeable, but still not nearly so important as the corresponding effect on the Mainland Scandinavian languages.

A few words in the lists below are element loan-translations (e.g. domkyrka from MLG dôm and (originally) ON kirkja), but these have been included as important or interesting words).

Middle Low German forms use circumflexes as a diacritic to indicate long vowels because using macrons was impossible in an HTML text.

In many cases, supposedly Middle-Low-German-derived words in Scandinavian seem more closely related to the corresponding ModLS forms than to the corresponding MLG forms as we know them from written sources. This is especially obvious where front vowels (represented by the letters y, ö/ø and ä/æ/e) correspond to front vowels in ModLS (ü/üü, ö/öö, ä/ää e/ee) while corresponding to what are represented as back vowels in Middle Low German writing (u/û, o/ô, a/â). Other MLG loans in Scandinavian are more similar to their ModLS cognates than to the written MLG ones in other ways. This may be an indication that such loans came from spoken Low Saxon dialects in which vowel fronting (umlauting) and other changes had already taken place, while this was not yet reflected in the more or less standardized and assumedly rather conservative written language at the time. Also, in some cases comparisons between the Scandinavian forms and the ModLS forms reveals that there was more than one MLG donor dialect. For example, the Swedish word sedel is related to ModLS Zedel, while the Danish equivalent seddel is related to the ModLS variant Zeddel. For this reason ModLS and, where deemed necessary, Modern Dutch (Du) cognates are added for comparison. This is limited to actual cognates, i.e. to directly corresponding words. It does not mean that closely related words do not exist. A cognate may or may not have the same meaning as that of the loanwords in Scandinavian.

ModLS has many dialects and so far no standard dialect and standard orthography. ModLS forms are here provided in a North Saxon dialect of Germany in conventional German-based orthographies. A long vowel is represented by a single letter if it is in an open syllable (e.g., Damen 'ladies') and by a double letter if it is in a closed syllable (e.g., Daam 'lady') or anywhere before two or more consonant letters (e.g., Paaschen 'Easter'). Long /i/ is always written as ie . German-based spelling distinguishes long vowels from diphthongs only optionally by a small hook (ogonek) underneath e and ö to mark monophthong long vowels. However, this is rarely utilized. Instead of placing a hook we underline a letter that represents a long vowel; e.g., beden [be:dn] ~ [bE:dn] 'to request', 'to pray' vs. beden [bEIdn] ~ [baIdn] 'to offer', Kööm [kø:m] 'caraway' vs. kööm [kœIm] ~ [kOIm] 'came', Toon [to:n] 'tone' vs. Book [bouk] ~ [bauk] 'book'. An apostrophe following a consonant indicates that, where an older -e has been dropped, "superlength" or "drawl tone" applies: the consonant does not undergo the usual devoicing, and the preceding vowel or diphthong is extra long.

 

* note: a number of possible MLG loans appear in my article on High German loans in the Scandinavian languages

 

1 - NOUNS

(Dates given for first appearance in Swedish).

*All loans assumed to be Middle Low Saxon (MLS) unless given otherwise.

Swedish

Danish

English

MLS

Old Norse

Mod LS or Du

------

bødker

cooper

bödiker

 

 

------

forskel

difference

vorschel

munr

Verscheel, Verschääl

------

forsæt

intention, purpose

vorsat

mál, ætlan

Vörsatt (decision, plan)

------

fætter

cousin

vedder

frændi

Vedder

------

kok

cook

koch

 

 

------

køgemester

master cook

kôkenmester

 

 

------

maler

painter

 

 

Maler

------

optog

procession, paegeant

optoch

 

---

 

pebersvend

bachelor

 

 

 

------

taske

bag

tasche

 

Tasch

------

tæppe

carpet

teppet

 

 

------

udtog

abstract, summary

ûttoch

 

Uttog

adel

adel

nobility

adel

 

Adel

akt

agt

document, record; act

âcht

rit; lög

Akt(e); akte (Du)

allvar

alvor

earnestness

alwâr

alvara (loan from MLG)

(alwaar 'whereas' (Du))

amma

amme

nurse

amme

 

Amm

amt
(1620)

amt

county

ambacht,
ammecht

 

Amt

andakt (c.1620)

andagt

devotion, prayers

andacht

bænir

Andacht

andel

andel

share, portion

andêl

hlútr

Andeel

andrake

andrik

drake

anderik

andarsteggr

---

anfall

anfald

attack

anval, aneval

áhlaup

Anfall

angrepp

angreb

attack

angrepe

áhlaup

Angreep

anhang
(1527)

anhang

supplement

anhang

 

Anhang

ankomst

ankomst

arrival

ankumpst

koma, kváma

Ankumst

anrop

anråb

challenge

anrop

áskoran

Anroop (call)

ansikte

ansigt

face

ansichte

andlit

 

anskri

anskrig

cry, scream

anschrî

óp, öskr

---

anslag

anslag

impact; estimate; allowance

anslach

ætlan

Anslag, Anslach

anspråk

------

claim, demand

ansprake

kröf

Anspraak

anstöt

anstød

offence

anstôt

afbrot

Anstoot

antal

antal

number

antal

tala

aantal (Du)

antal

antal

number, figure

antal

tal

Antall, Antaal

arbete

arbejde

work, labour

arbeit

erfiði

Arbeid

armod

armod

poverty

armôt, armôde

fátækð

Armood

art

art

kind, sort

art

tigund, kyn

Aard, Aart, Oort

avdelning

afdeling

division

afdêlinge

deild

afdeling (Du)

avlösning

afløsning

relief

aflosinge

 

 

bagare

bager

baker

bakker

 

Backer

bedrift

bedrift

achievement, exploit; enterprise

bedrif

afrek, dáð

Bedriev, Bedrief

bedrövelse

bedrøvelse

sorrow, grief

bedrôvenisse

 

 

befallning

befalning

order, command

 

 

Befehl

befordring

befordring

conveyance

 

 

 

begrepp

begreb

idea, concept

begrîp, begrêp

 

Begreep

begär

begær

desire, craving

beger

þrá, lyst

Begehr

behag

behag

pleasure, satisfaction

behach

lyst, ánægja

Behaag, Behaach, Behagen

behov

behov

need

behôf

þorf

behoef (Du)

behov

behov

requirement, need

behôf

þörf, nauðr

---

behåll

behold

keeping, preservation, retention

beholt

geymsla, varðveizla

---

bekymmer

bekymring

worry, concern, anxiety

bekumberinge

áhyggja

 

belevenhet

------

good breeding, fine manners

belewtheit

kurteisi

---

belopp

beløb

amount

belôp

 

beloop (Du)

beläte

billede

image, picture

bilde, belde

mynd

Bild; beeld (Du)

beråd

beråd

doubt, hesitation, uncertainty

berât

tvímæli, tvísýni

---

besked

besked

message

beschêd

boð

Bescheed

beslag

beslag

fittings, mountings

beslach

 

Beslag, Beslach

beslut

beslutning

decision, resolution

beslut

ákvæði

Beslutt

bestyr

(bestyrelse)

work, business, management

bestür

verk, stjórn, viðskipti

Bestüür

bestånd

bestand

stock, number

bestant

birgðir

Bestand

beställning

bestilling

order

 

 

 

besättning

besættelse

occupation

besettinge

hernám

bezetting (Du)

betryck

betryk

distress, need

bedruck

nauð

---

bevillning

bevilling

grant, appropriation

bewillinge

veiting

---

bevis

bevis

proof, evidence

bewîs

sannindi

Bewies

bevåg (c.1540)

------

responsibility, authority

bewach

ábyrgð

---

bihang

------

appendage, appendix

bîhank

viðauki 

 

bilaga

bilag

enclosure, supplement, insert

bilage

 

Bi(e)lage, Bi(e)laag'

bild

billede

image, picture

bilde, belde

mynd

Bild; beeld (Du)

bisittare

bisidder

assessor, observer

bisitter

 

Bisitter

bislag

bislag

porch

bislach

 

Bislag, Bislach

blick
(c.1593)

blik

look, gaze

blick

ásyn

 

borgare

borger

citizen

borgere

 

Börger

borgmästare

borgmester

burgomaster

borgermêster

 

Börgermeester

bovete

boghvede

buckwheat

bôkwête

 

Bookweten

brännvin

brændevin

brandy, gin

bernewîn

 

Brandwien

bukt

bugt

bay, gulf

bucht

vík

Bucht

bult

bolt

bolt

bolte

 

Bult, Bült

burskap

borgerskab

franchise; citizens

bûrschap

borgarlýðr

 

byxa

bukse

trousers, breeches

buxe

 

Büx(e), Bux(e)

bålverk

bolværk

rampart, bulwark

bolwerk (MLG)

 

Bollwark
bolwerk (Du)

båtsman

bådsmand

boatswain

bôtsman

bátsmaðr

Bootsmann

bädd

-------

bed

bedde

rúm, sæng

Bedd, Bett

bägare

bæger

baker

beker

bakari

Backer, Bäcker

bäver

bæver

beaver

bever

bjórr

Bever, Bewer

bödel

bøddel

executioner, hangman

bodel, boddel

 

Bödel, Bodel

börs

børs

purse, fund

börs (LG), burse (MLG)

fjárfundr, sjóðr

Börs(e) ('purse', 'stock exchange')

bössa

bøsse

gun; cashbox

busse

 

Büss(e), bus

?

bøssemager

gunsmith

?

------

 

del

del

part, fraction

dêl, deil

hlutr

Deel

dikt

digt

poem

dichte

kvæði

 

docka

dok

dock

MDu dok, MLG docke

 

 

domherre
(1640)
(now domare)

domherre
(now dommer)

judge

dômherre

dómsmaðr

Doomherr

domkyrka

domkirke

cathedral

dôm (MLG) +
kirkja (ON)

dómkirkja

Dookark

dop

dåb

baptism

dope

 

 

drake

drage

dragon

drake

dreki

Drake

dryckenskap

drukkenskab

drunkenness

drunkenschap

drykkjuskapr

 

dräkt

dragt

dress, garb

dracht

umbúningr, klæði

Dracht

dunder

dunder

thunder, rumble

dunner

 

 

dust

dyst

fight, clash, tussle

dust, diest

bardagi

 

däck

(c.1690)

dæk

deck

dek (LG or Du)

 

 

döp

dåb

baptism

dôpe

skírn

Dööp

ebb
(1787)

ebbe

low tide, ebb

ebbe (Du)

fjarra

Ebb; eb(be) (Du)

egendom

ejendom

property

êgendôm (MLG)

eign

Egendoom

egendom

ejendom

property, estate

egendom

eign,

Egendom

elände

-------

misery

ellende

aumleikr

Elend

endräkt

endragt

harmony, concord

eindracht

samræði, samhljóðan

Eendracht

-eri

-eri

(suffix forming nomen agentis)

-erîe

 

-eree, -erie

fack

fag

line, trade; subject

vak (MLG)

 

Fack

fadder

fadder

godparent

vadder

 

 

falk

falk

falcon, hawk

valke

haukr, fálki

Falk(e)

fals

fals

deceit, falsehood

vals

lygi

falsch 'wrong'

falskhet

falskhed

falsness, duplicity

valschheit

 

Falschheit 

fana

fane

banner, standard

vane

merki

Faan, Fahn

fara

fare

danger

vâre

hætta

Faar, Fahr

fartyg

fartøj

vessel, ship

fartüg (MLG)

skip

Faartüüg, Fahrtüüg

feber

(c.1533)

feber

fever

feber

 

 Fever, Fewer

fejda

fejde

feud, strife, war

veide

stríð, ófriðr

Fede, Feed'

fel
(c.1520)

fejl

mistake, error

feil, fegel

villr

Feel

fett

fedt

fat, lard, grease

fett
(MLG)

feitr

Fett

ficka

-----

pocket

ficke

 

Fick

fiol

fiol

violin

viole

 

 

flagg
(1605)

flag

flag

flagge (MLG) or vlag (Du)

 

Flagg(e)

flykt

flugt

escape, flight

vlucht, vlücht

flótti

Flucht, Flücht

flöjt

fløjte

flute

flöite

 

 

fogde

foged

sheriff, bailiff

voget

sýslumaðr

Voogt

fotfolk

fodfolk

infantry

vôtvolk

fótgönguherr

 

fotgängare

fodgænger

infantryman
(now "pedestrian")

vôtgenger

fótgöngumaðr

 

frakt
(1524)

fragt

freight

vracht

farmr

Fracht

fru

frue

lady; Mrs

vrouwe

kona

Fru, Fro

frukost

frokost

breakfast
(Dan. ="lunch")

vrôkost

 

Fru(h)kost
Frö(h)kost

frukt

frugt

fruit

vrucht

 

Frucht

fruktan

frygt

fear, dread

vruchte

hræzla, ótti

Forcht, Furcht

fröken
(1560)

frøken

young lady; Miss

vrouwekin, vrouken

 

 

fukt

fugt

damp, moisture

vucht

 

 

fullmakt

fuldmagt

authority

vulmacht

yfirskipan

Vullmacht
Vollmacht

fullmäktig

fuldmægtig

principal, delegate

vulmechtich

forstjóri

Vullmacht

furste

fyrste

prince

vorste, vurste

vísir

 

furstinna

fyrsteinde

princess

vorstinne

dróttning

Förstin

fyr

fyr

fire

vûr, vuer

eldr

Füür

fält

felt

sphere; field

velt

 

Feld

fängelse

fængsel

prison; imprisonment

vengnisse

fangelsi

 

färg

farve

colour, hue

varwe, varve

litr

Farv(e)

fästning

(c.1630)

fæstning

fortress

vesteninge

 

 

föga

(falla till föga)

føje

(falde til føje)

cause, ground, reason

(yield, submit)

vôge

(in de vôge fallen)

örsok 

 

fönster (ousted OSwed. vindögha)

------

window

vinster, venster

gluggr

Finster, Fenster

förakt

foragt

contempt, disdain

voracht

 

---

förbud

forbud

ban, prohibition

vorbot

 

 

förbund

forbund

union, league, federation

vorbunt

lag, samfélag

Verbund

fördel

fordel

advantage

vordêl

gagn

Fördeel

fördrag

------

lecture, address, delivery

vordrach

 

verdrag (Du)

förekomst

forekomst

occurence, incidence

vorkumpst

 

---

föreståndare

forstander

principal, director

vorstender

forstjóri

---

förfall

forfald

decay, decline

vorval

niðrfall

Verfall

förfång

------

detriment; prejudice

vorvank

 

---

förgift

forgift

poison

vorgift

eitr

---

förgängelse

(forgængelighed)

corruption

vorgenknis

spilling

---

förhänge

forhæng

curtain, drape; veil

vorhenge

tjald

Vörhäng

förhör

forhør

interrogation

(vorhören)

 

 

 

förköp

forkøb

pre-emption

vorkôp

 

Verkoop

förlopp

forløb

lapse; course of events

vorlop

 

 

förlov

forlov

permission, leave

vorlôf

leyfi

Verlööv, Verlööf

förlust

------

loss, damage

vorlust

tapan, skaði

Verlust

förnuft

fornuft

sense, reason

vornuft

skynsemd

 

förräder

forræder

traitor

vorrêder

svikamaðr

Verrader, Verräder

förstånd

forstand

intellect, brains, reason

vorstant

vitsmunr, skynsemd, samvizka

Verstand

förtret

fortræd

annoyance, vexation, harm

vordrêt

skapraun; skaði

Verdreet

gaffel

gaffel

fork

gaffel(e)

 

Gaffel

garvare

garver

tanner

garwer, gerwer (LG)

sútari

Garver

gemål

(c.1565)

gemal

consort, spouse

gemâl

maki

 

gesäll

gesel

journeyman

geselle

 

Gesell(e)

gevär
(1620)

gevær

rifle, gun

gewêre

 

Geweer, Gewehr

gikt

(c.1578)

gigt

gout

gicht, jicht

 

Gicht, Jicht

greve

greve

count, earl

greve, grave

jarl

Graaf
Greef

grevinna

grevinde

countess

grevinne

greifinna

(Gräfin)

gräns

grænse

border, boundary

grense, grenitze

merki

Grenz(e), Grenß(e)

gunst

gunst

favour, grace

gunst

náð

Gunst

gåva

gave

gift, present

gâve

gjöf; giäf (Old Swed.)

Gaav', Gave

-gängare

-gænger

-walker, -goer

-genger, -ginger

fótgöngmaðr

-gänger

haj
(1674)

haj

shark

haai

 

Hai

handel

handel

trade, commerce

handel

 

 

handske

handske

glove

hantschô, hantsche

hanzki

Handsch(e)

handskmakare

handskemager

glover

 

 

 

hantwerk
(1540)

håndværk

handicraft, trade

hantwerk

iðn

Handwark;
handwerk (Du)

hast

hast

haste, hurry

hast

skynding, skyndir

Hast

helgon (pl.)

helgen

saint

thie hêlagon (OSax.)

 

 

herre

herre

gentleman; Mr

hêrre (MLG)

maðr, karlmaðr

Herr

herrskap

herskab

master and mistress

hêrschop, hêrschap

 

Herrschup(p)
Herrschop(p)

hertig

hertug

duke

hertoch, hertich

hertoga 

Hertog, Hertoch

hertiginna

hertuginde

duchess

hertochinne

 

 

hingst

hingst

stallion

hinxt, hingest

hestr

Hingst

hjälte

helt

hero

helt

hetja

Held

hjältinna

heltinde

heroine

 

 

 

hopp

håb

hope, expectation

hôpe (MLG)

ván

hoop (Du)

hov

hof

court, noble society

hof

hirð

Hoff

högmod

hovmod

pride, arrogance

hogmôt

 

 

husgeråd

husgeråd

household utensils

hûsgerât

 

 

husman

husmand

smallholder

hûsman

smábóndi

 

hustru

hustru

(house)wife

hûsvrouwe

húsfreyja

Huusfru, Huusfro

hytt
(1842)

hytte

cabin

hütt, hütte (LG)

 

Hütt

häkte

hægte

custody, jail

hechte

varðhald

hecht; haft (Du)

härbärge

herberg

shelter, lodging

herberge

gisting

Harbarg;
herberg (Du)

härkomst

herkomst

origin, lineage

herkumpst

ætterni

Herkumst, Herkomst

höft
(c.1538)

------

hip

hûfte

mjöðm

Hüft(e)

högfärd

------

pride, vanity

hôchvart

hégómadýrð

---

högmod

hovmod

pride, arrogance

hogemôt, homôt

dramb

Hoogmood
Hoochmoot

högmod

højmod

magnanimity

hôgmôd

gjöfli

Hoogmood, Ho(o)chmoot

hökare (1693)

høker

provision dealer, huckster

höker (LG)

 

Höker 

hövitsman

høvedsmand

captain

hôvetman

 

hoofdman (Du)

innbyggjare

indbyggere

resident

inbûwe

 

 

ingefära

ingefær

ginger

ingever

 

Ingwer, Engwer

inkomst

indkomst

income, profit

inkomst

ávinningr

Inkumst

-inna

-inde

fem. noun-forming suffix

-inne, -in

 

-in

innandöme

------

inside, interior

ingedöme

 

Ingedööm(t) (inner organs)

inpass

indpas

footing, entry

inpas

innganga

---

intrång

(indtrængen)

encroachment, trespass

indrank

ágangr, yfirgangr

---

intåg

indtog

entry

intoch

innganga

Intog, Intoch

invånare

indvåner