What Language Did the Vikings Speak?

What language did the Vikings speak? - Vikingkompass

The Viking era extended between 789 and 1100. The inhabitants of Scandinavia lived a peak, frightening the rest of Europe with their incursions. But in what language did the Vikings speak? Did they all speak the same language or did different languages ​​already exist?

The old Norse: the language of the Vikings

We can say that the language of the Vikings was the old Norse, a language of the Germanic family that was spoken in Scandinavia from the beginning of the Viking era until the year 1300. The old Norse derives from the protonórdico, a language spoken between the centuries III and VII.

The inhabitants of present-day Norway, Sweden and Denmark expanded the language of the Vikings to their overseas colonies, such as Iceland, Greenland or Vinlandia (in Canada), as well as in their settlements in the British Isles and other regions of northern Europe.

Old Norse dialects

The old Nordic presented two important variants: the western and the eastern. The differences between the two dialects were not large so that their speakers could be perfectly understood.

Generally speaking, we could say that the old western Nordic was spoken by the Norwegians, who expanded to Iceland, the North Sea islands Greenland and Vinlandia. Meanwhile, the eastern slope was spoken by Swedes and Danes, who established settlements in Russia, England, and Normandy. By the eleventh century, the old Norse was one of the most spoken languages ​​in Europe.

Over the centuries, both dialects of ancient Norse were evolving and fragmenting to give rise to languages ​​such as Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish or Danish. The last vestiges of this Viking language are found in the Russian Novgorod region, where it disappeared around the 13th century.

  • Old Norse Western:
    • Norwegian
    • Icelandic
    • Faroese (spoken in the Faroe Islands)
    • Norn (already extinct, spoken in Orkney and Shetland Islands, north of Scotland)
  • Old Eastern Nordic:
    • Swedish
    • Danish
    • Ancient Guttnic (spoken on the island of Gotland)

On the other hand, the old Norse influenced loans to languages ​​such as English, Scottish or Norman.

As for writing, a topic we will address in another article, the language of the Vikings used the runic alphabet until the spread of the Latin alphabet. The expansion of Christianity in Viking lands led to the arrival of this writing system from the year 1000.

 

 


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