12 Facts About Old Norse


Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages.

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Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlements and chronologically coincides with the Viking Age, the Christianization of Scandinavia and the consolidation of Scandinavian kingdoms from about the 7th to the 15th centuries.

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Old Norse was divided into three dialects: Old West Norse or Old West Nordic, Old East Norse or Old East Nordic, and Old Gutnish.

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Today Old Norse has developed into the modern North Germanic languages Icelandic, Faroese, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, of which Norwegian, Danish and Swedish retain considerable mutual intelligibility while Icelandic remains the closest to Old Norse.

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Old Norse had an influence on English dialects and Lowland Scots, which contain many Old Norse loanwords.

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Unlike Proto-Norse, which was written with the Elder Futhark, runic Old Norse was originally written with the Younger Futhark, which had only 16 letters.

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The standardized Old Norse spelling was created in the 19th century and is, for the most part, phonemic.

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Old Norse was a moderately inflected language with high levels of nominal and verbal inflection.

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Old Norse had three grammatical genders – masculine, feminine and neuter.

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Subsequently, Old Norse became the vehicle of a large and varied body of vernacular literature.

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Old West Norse and Old Gutnish did not take part in the monophthongization which changed into, and into, nor did certain peripheral dialects of Swedish, as seen in modern Ostrobothnian dialects.

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The term Old Norse is often used to refer to Old West Norse specifically, in which case the subject of this article receives another name, such as Old Scandinavian.

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