Article published in:Language Contact and Development around the North Sea
Edited by Merja Stenroos, Martti Mäkinen and Inge Særheim
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 321] 2012
► pp. 169–192
For Heaven’s sake
The Scandinavian contribution to a semantic field in Old and Middle English
This chapter deals with the Scandinavian loanwords sky and loft and their role in the configuration of the semantic field concerning “sky”, “air”, and “cloud” during the transition between Old and Middle English. It outlines the etymology and Germanic cognates of the two words and explores the contexts of their first occurrences in Old and Middle English. I examine the relationship between ON ský and lopt and their Anglo-Saxon cognates, OE scēo and lyft, reaching the conclusion that they cannot be considered to be competing doublets and that the success of Norse-derived sky and loft over or alongside their native equivalents can be put down to a process of semantic differentiation and specialisation within the semantic field.
Published online: 18 April 2012