Chapter published in:History of Linguistics 2017: Selected papers from the 14th International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences, (ICHoLS 14), Paris, 28 August – 1 September
Edited by Émilie Aussant and Jean-Michel Fortis
[Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 127] 2020
► pp. 101–112
Nation and race in the twentieth century scientific discourse on Viking Age runestones
The boom for researching runestone inscriptions in the early twentieth century coincided with a renewed romantic and often nationalistic interest in the Viking Age. This study investigates how a passage of the most famous runestone inscription, the Rök Runestone, was interpreted as a reference to the Ostrogoth emperor Theodoric the Great. It focuses on the work of two linguists, Otto Höfler (1901–1987) and Elias Wessén (1889–1981), who engaged in a three-decade-long debate on this issue. The analysis unfolds a discursive tension between race and nation in the legitimisation of the supposed Gothic connection.
Keywords: runestones, Scandinavian linguistics, nationalism, Nazism, imagined community
Published online: 20 May 2020