Is Irish North Germanic plausible?

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Is Irish North Germanic plausible?

Post by Shemtov »

Inspired by the numerous bogolangs that are being created I had a thought: What if the Norse settlements in Ireland had a group that did not assimilate linguistically, but started to speak an Irish-influenced North Germanic language, that has the f from exposure to Irish, VSO word order. Consonant mutation, and palatalized consonants? Is this plausible? If so, how long would it last?
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Re: Is Irish North Germanic plausible?

Post by Salmoneus »

Plausibility is in the eye of the beholder.

Why don't you try it, and see whether you like the results?

Is it historically possible for a Norse population to settle in Ireland? Sure. In general, the Vikings didn't colonise enemy territory en masse, and so everywhere they went they assimilated into the local population - the Hebrides, Man, the Danelaw, Russia, Portugal, Normandy, etc. But that's not an iron law. They certainly did settle uninhabited areas en masse - Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland. And Donegal was not exactly Constantinople. So while it seems not that likely, a substantial settlement there doesn't seem impossible.

The key example here may be the Northern Isles. Shetland was uninhabited when the Vikings got there, but Orkney was not - and Orcadian Norn apparently survived (in the form of a few villages) up to around 1700. Norn was even at one time spoken in Caithness, though it died off by the 15th century.


Linguistically, I don't know enough about North Germanic to say much for sure. I don't know what you mean by "has the f from exposure to Irish". What f?

My own Wenthish language is a Germanic language influenced by Irish. (but mostly-Western Germanic, not Norse). It does indeed tend toward VSO, and I found that this came naturally: Old Germanic word order was in general quite free, allowing fronting, has already mostly fronted verbs to V2, and sometimes fronts them to V1 (imperatives, questions); having a general tendency to emphasise the verb didn't seem a problem (though it does make the usual inversion for questions more of an issue!). Wenthish also, at least at first, developed palatalisation - palatalisation of velars is already a thing in Anglo-Frisian, after all. I toyed with including mutation, and there is indeed a small amount of allophonic mutation... but what I found was that, in practice, there just weren't convenient distinctions that could plausible be made through mutation without dramatically changing the sound-changes.

You may find differently when you work with Old Norse - you'll have to look and see...
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Re: Is Irish North Germanic plausible?

Post by Znex »

Icelandic and Faroese are debatably borne of some Irish influence if you track their interactions, but it would be limited at best. For instance, the aspirated-lenis contrast that Scottish Gaelic and Icelandic and Faroese share could be argued as stemming from the Irish fortis-lenis series (although Germanic has already had fortis-lenis since Proto-Germanic).
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Re: Is Irish North Germanic plausible?

Post by Ælfwine »

I have played around with this idea.

Notably, all final vowels reduce to schwa (as in Danish) but not before a palatal/velar split in the consonants (also agreeable, as a lot of consonants become straight up retroflex in many dialects of Scandinavian while others become palatalized) which colorizes the vowel: written <a> or <e> (like Norwegian, but the distribution is quite different). The case system simplifies and becomes somewhat in between icelandic and norwegian, merging the nominative and accusativebut keeping the dative except in a few forms. Likewise verbs simplify, person marking is lost but number is retained.
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Re: Is Irish North Germanic plausible?

Post by dva_arla »

Very plausible, given that some cities in Ireland were founded by Vikings, most notable being Dublin and Wexford, the latter in particular being a Viking town "for about three hundred years" (Wikipedia).

An VSO word order, while plausible, would be much less likely than another Gaelic-influenced trait: inflected prepositions (tiljach, tiljask, tilloss, etc.) , since Germanic possessed clitics already, and Old Norse had started using clitics to signify definiteness. Also ( ... _languages ) :

"Old Norse had also some enclitics of personal pronouns that were attached to verbs. These were -sk (from sik), -mk (from mik), -k (from ek), and -ðu / -du / -tu (from þú). These could even be stacked up, e.g. "fásktu" (from Hávamál, stanza 116)."

You might want to pay attention to several features from Norn languages (then again, you need not include all of them in your conlang), which include:

"...a voicing of /p, t, k/ to [b, d, ɡ] after vowels and (in the Shetland dialect but only partially in the Orkney dialect) a conversion of /θ/ and /ð/ ("thing" and "that" respectively) to [t] and [d] respectively.

"There were two numbers, three genders and four cases (nominative, accusative, genitive and dative). The two main conjugations of verbs in present and past tense were also present. Like all other North Germanic languages, it used a suffix instead of a prepositioned article to indicate definiteness as in modern Scandinavian: man(n) ("man"); mannen ("the man") ... documents indicate that it may have featured subjectless clauses, which were common in the West Scandinavian languages." ( , morphological features likely to eventually simplify though.)
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