Greenlandic Norse is an extinct North Germanic language, spoken in the Norse settlements of Greenland until their demise in the late 15th century. The language is attested through some 80 runic inscriptions, many of which are difficult to date and not all of which were carved by people born in Greenland, it is difficult to identify Greenlandic linguistic features in the limited runic material. There are inscriptions showing the use of t for historical þ in words such as torir rather than þorir and tana rather than þana; this linguistic innovation has parallels in West Norwegian in the late medieval period. On the other hand, Greenlandic appears to have retained some features which changed in other types of Scandinavian; this includes initial hl and hr, otherwise only preserved in Icelandic, the long vowel œ, which merged with æ in Icelandic but was preserved in Norwegian. Greenlandic Norse is believed to have been in language contact with Greenlandic, the language of the indigenous Kalaallit, to have left loanwords in that language.
In particular, the Greenlandic word Kalaaleq, meaning Greenlander, is believed to be derived from the word Skrælingr, the Norse term for the people they encountered in North America. It has been suggested that the word kona, meaning woman, is of Norse origin; the available evidence does not establish the presence of language attrition. A main characteristic of Greenlandic Norse was that it was conservative; the older forms of speaking, which had come from Iceland and Norway, were kept intact. In keeping with this conservatism, the Greenlanders maintained the older runic characteristics, most of which had fallen out of use in other countries. Notwithstanding this, they created new designs for the ð-, b-, p- and r-runes; the Kingittorsuaq Runestone dates from c. 1300, discovered near Upernavik, far north of the Norse settlements. It was carved by Norse explorers; the patronymic Tortarson shows the change from þ to t while the word hloþu shows the retention of initial hl. Bandle, Oskar; the Nordic Languages: An International Handbook of the History of the North Germanic Languages: Volume 2.
ISBN 311017149X. Barnes, Michael. "Language" in A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, ed. by Rory McTurk. ISBN 0-631-23502-7. Jahr, Ernst Håkon and Ingvild Broch. Language Contact in the Arctic: Northern Pidgins and Contact Languages. ISBN 3110143356. Old Norse List of extinct languages of Europe List of extinct languages of North America Runic inscription from Greenland
In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The most studied traditions of alliterative verse are those found in the oldest literature of the Germanic languages, where scholars use the term'alliterative poetry' rather broadly to indicate a tradition which not only shares alliteration as its primary ornament but certain metrical characteristics; the Old English epic Beowulf, as well as most other Old English poetry, the Old High German Muspilli, the Old Saxon Heliand, the Old Norse Poetic Edda, many Middle English poems such as Piers Plowman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Alliterative Morte Arthur all use alliterative verse. Alliterative verse can be found in many other languages as well; the Finnish Kalevala and the Estonian Kalevipoeg both use alliterative forms derived from folk tradition. Traditional Turkic verse, for example that of the Uyghur, is alliterative.
The poetic forms found in the various Germanic languages are not identical, but there is sufficient similarity to make it clear that they are related traditions, stemming from a common Germanic source. Knowledge about that common tradition, however, is based entirely on inference from poetry. One statement we have about the nature of alliterative verse from a practicing alliterative poet is that of Snorri Sturluson in the Prose Edda, he describes metrical patterns and poetic devices used by skaldic poets around the year 1200. Snorri's description has served as the starting point for scholars to reconstruct alliterative meters beyond those of Old Norse. There have been many different metrical theories proposed, all of them attended with controversy. Looked at broadly, certain basic features are common from the earliest to the latest poetry. Alliterative verse has been found in some of the earliest monuments of Germanic literature; the Golden horns of Gallehus, discovered in Denmark and dating to the 4th century, bear this Runic inscription in Proto-Norse: x / x x x / x x / x / x x ek hlewagastiʀ holtijaʀ || horna tawidō This inscription contains four stressed syllables, the first three of which alliterate on <h> /x/ and the last of which does not alliterate the same pattern found in much verse.
All alliterative poetry was composed and transmitted orally, much went unrecorded. The degree to which writing may have altered this oral art form remains much in dispute. There is a broad consensus among scholars that the written verse retains many of the features of the spoken language; the core metrical features of traditional Germanic alliterative verse are as follows. Half-lines are known as'verses','hemistichs', or'distichs'; the rhythm of the b-verse is more regular than that of the a-verse, helping listeners to perceive where the end of the line falls. A heavy pause, or'cæsura', separates the verses; each verse has two stressed syllables, referred to as'lifts' or'beats'. The first lift in the a-verse alliterates with the first lift in the b-verse; the second lift in the b-verse does not alliterate with the first lifts. Some of these fundamental rules varied in certain traditions over time. Unlike in post-medieval English accentual verse, in which a syllable is either stressed or unstressed, Germanic poets were sensitive to degrees of stress.
These can be thought of at three levels: most stressed: root syllables of nouns, participles, infinitives less stressed: root syllables most finite verbs and adverbs less stressed: most pronouns, weakly stressed adverbs, conjunctions, parts of the verb to be, word-endingsIf a half-line contains one or more stress-words, their root syllables will be the lifts. If it contains no stress-words, the root syllables of any particles will be the lift. A proclitic can be the lift, either because there are no more stressed syllables or because it is given extra stress for some particular reason. If a lift was occupied by word with a short root vowel followed by only one consonant followed by an unstressed vowel these two syllables were in most circumstances counted as only one syllable; this is called resolution. The patterns of unstressed syllables vary in the alliterative traditions of different Germanic languages; the rules for these patterns remain imperfectly understood and subject to debate. Alliteration fits with the prosodic patterns of early Germanic languages.
Alliteration involves matching the left edges of stressed syllables. Early Germanic languages share a left-prominent prosodic pattern. In other words, stress falls on the root syllable of a word, the initial syllable; this means that the first sound of a word was salient to listeners. Traditional Germanic verse had two particular rules about alliteration: All vowels alliterate with each other; the consonant clusters st-, sp- and sc- are treated as separate sounds. The precise r
The medieval runes, or the futhork, was a Scandinavian 27 letter runic alphabet that evolved from the Younger Futhark after the introduction of dotted runes at the end of the Viking Age and it was formed in the early 13th century. Due to the expansion, each rune corresponded to only one phoneme, whereas the runes in the preceding Younger Futhark could correspond to several; the medieval runes were in use throughout Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, provided the basis for the appearance of runology in the 16th century. Towards the end of the 11th century, the runic alphabet met competition from the introduced Latin alphabet, but instead of being replaced, the runes continued to be used for writing in the native Old Norse language; the Latin alphabet, on the other hand, was used by the clergy for writing in Latin, but Latin prayers could be written down with runes. Whereas the Latin letters were written with quill and ink on expensive parchment, the runes were carved with sharp objects on prepared wood staffs that were cheaper.
Although, it may at first appear that the church did not provide a congenial environment for tradition of writing in medieval runes, there are many known church objects that were engraved with runes, such as reliquaries, baptismal fonts, iron work on church doors, church porches and church walls. In fact, one of the last runestones was raised in memory of the archbishop Absalon. Most of the runes in the medieval runic alphabet can be traced back to forms in the Younger Futhark as the runemasters preferred to use, or modify, old runes for new phonemes rather than invent new runes. At the end of the 10th century, or the early 11th century, three dotted runes were added in order to represent the phonemes in a more exact manner. Rather than create new runes for the /e/, /ɡ/ and /y/ phonemes, dots were added to the i, k and u runes. At the mid-11th century, the ą and the R runes had become obsolete, instead they were reused for other phonemes; when the distinction between /r/ and /ɽ/ was lost, the R rune was used for /y/ instead, when the nasal /ɑ̃/ changed into /o/, this became the new phoneme for the ą rune.
Towards the end of the 11th century and in the early 12th century, new d and p runes were created through the addition of dots to the t and b runes. When the medieval runic alphabet was developed in the early 13th century, it mixed short-twig and long-branch runes in a novel manner; the short-twig a rune represented /a/, while the long-branch one represented /æ/. The short-twig ą rune represented /o/, whereas the long-branch form represented /ø/; as the two alphabets were used alongside each other, there was a mutual influence. The Latin alphabet early borrowed the þ rune to represent the /θ/ and /ð/ phonemes, but in Denmark it was used. In the 15th century and Swedes stopped using the þ letter, but the Icelanders still retain it in their Latin alphabet. Due to the Latin alphabet the m and the l runes changed places. In addition, Scandinavians began to double spell runes for consonants, influenced by this use in the Latin alphabet. In the oldest Scandinavian manuscripts that were written with Latin letters, the m rune was used as a conceptual rune meaning "man".
This suggests that the medieval Scandinavian scribes had a widespread familiarity with the names and the meanings of the individual runes. In the oldest preserved manuscript of the Poetic Edda from 1270, and, written with the Latin alphabet, the m is used as a conceptual rune meaning "man" and in Hávamál it appears 43 times. In the early 13th century, the runes began to be threatened by the Latin letters as the medieval Scandinavian laws were written; until the laws had been memorized and recited by the lawspeakers. Still, when the runes began to experience competition, they went through a renaissance. A thorough reformation of the runes appeared and the medieval runes reached their most complete form; this may be because the laws were written down, the oldest manuscript with a Scandinavian law, the Codex Runicus, was written in runes. The Latin letters were introduced during the 13th century, but farmers and traders continued to write with runes to communicate or to mark goods, it appears that in many parts of Sweden, people considered Latin letters to be a foreign practice throughout the Middle Ages.
Still in the 16th century, the runes were engraved on official memorials or as secret writing in diaries. In the mid-16th century, the parson of the parish of Runsten on Öland wrote a sign on the chancel-wall of the church that said "The pastor of the parish should know how to read runes and write them", it is that the text represented the general opinion of the parishioners. Since the runes were still known and used in the 16th century, when the first runologists began to do scholarly work on the runes, the runic tradition never died out. Many manuscripts written in Iceland through the 16th to 19th centuries featured Medieval runes, Rune Poems and secret rune sets; when Linnaeus visited the province Dalarna in 1734, he noted the common use of runes, this province has been called "the last stronghold of the Germanic script". In Dalarna as in the rest of Sweden, the medieval tradition of using runic calendars was universal until the 19th century. A notable case of a runic calendar is the calendar from Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine.
It was made on Dagö in 1766 before the Swedish settlement was deported on a forced march to the steppes of Ukraine. During 134 years, the people of Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine used it to calculate the passage of time, until 1900 when a member of the community brought it to Stockholm; the prominent Swedish runo
Poetic Edda is the modern attribution for an unnamed collection of Old Norse anonymous poems, different from the Edda written by Snorri Sturluson. Several versions exist, all of text from the Icelandic medieval manuscript known as the Codex Regius; the Codex Regius is arguably the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends. From the early 19th century onwards, it has had a powerful influence on Scandinavian literatures. Not only by its stories, but by the visionary force and the dramatic quality of many of the poems, it has become an inspiring model for many innovations in poetic meter in Nordic languages, offering many varied examples of terse, stress-based metrical schemes that lack any final rhyme by instead using alliterative devices and strongly-concentrated imagery. Poets who have acknowledged their debt to the Codex Regius include Vilhelm Ekelund, August Strindberg, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ezra Pound, Jorge Luis Borges, Karin Boye. Codex Regius was written in the 13th century, but nothing is known of its whereabouts until 1643, when it came into the possession of Brynjólfur Sveinsson Bishop of Skálholt.
At the time, versions of the Edda were known in Iceland, but scholars speculated that there once was another Edda, an Elder Edda, which contained the pagan poems that Snorri quotes in his Edda. When Codex Regius was discovered, it seemed that the speculation had proved, but modern scholarly research has shown that Edda was written first and the two were, at most, connected by a common source. Brynjólfur attributed the manuscript to Sæmundr the Learned, a larger-than-life 12th century Icelandic priest; that attribution is rejected by modern scholars, but the name Sæmundar Edda is still sometimes associated with both the "Codex Regius" and versions of "Poetic Edda" using it as a source. Bishop Brynjólfur sent Codex Regius as a present to the Danish king. For centuries, it was stored in the Royal Library in Copenhagen but in 1971, it was returned to Iceland; the Eddic poems are composed in alliterative verse. Most are in fornyrðislag; the rest, about a quarter, are composed in ljóðaháttr. The language of the poems is clear and unadorned.
Kennings are employed, though they do not arise as nor are they as complex, as those found in skaldic poetry. Like most early poetry, the Eddic poems were minstrel poems, passing orally from singer to singer and from poet to poet for centuries. None of the poems are attributed to a particular author, though many of them show strong individual characteristics and are to have been the work of individual poets. Scholars sometimes speculate on hypothetical authors, but firm and accepted conclusions have never been reached; the dating of the poems has been a source of lively scholarly argument for a long time, firm conclusions are hard to reach. Lines from the Eddic poems sometimes appear in poems by known poets, but such evidence is difficult to evaluate. For example, Eyvindr skáldaspillir composed in the latter half of the 10th century, he uses a couple of lines in his Hákonarmál which are found in Hávamál, it is possible that he was quoting a known poem, but it is possible that Hávamál, or at least the strophe in question, is the younger derivative work.
The few demonstrably historical characters mentioned in the poems, such as Attila, provide a terminus post quem of sorts. The dating of the manuscripts themselves provides a more useful terminus ante quem. Individual poems have individual clues to their age. For example, Atlamál hin groenlenzku is claimed by its title to have been composed in Greenland, seems so by some internal evidence. If so, it can be no earlier than about 985, since there were no Scandinavians in Greenland until that time. In some cases, old poems may have been merged with other poems. For example, stanzas 9-16 of Völuspá, the "Dvergatal" or "Roster of Dwarfs", is considered by some scholars to be an interpolation; the problem of dating the poems is linked with the problem of finding out. Iceland was not settled until about 870, so anything composed before that time would have been elsewhere, most in Scandinavia. Any young poems, on the other hand, are Icelandic in origin. Scholars have attempted to localize individual poems by studying the geography and fauna to which they refer.
This approach does not yield firm results. For example, there are no wolves in Iceland, but we can be sure that Icelandic poets were familiar with the species; the apocalyptic descriptions of Völuspá have been taken as evidence that the poet who composed it had seen a volcanic eruption in Iceland - but this is hardly certain. Some poems similar to those found in Codex Regius are included in some editions of the Poetic Edda. Important manuscripts include AM 748 I Hauksbók and Flateyjarbók. Many of the poems are quoted in Snorri's Edda, but only in bits and pieces. What poems are included in an edition of the Poetic Edda depends on the editor; those not in Codex Regius are sometimes called Eddica minora, from their appearance in an edition with that title edited by Andreas Heusler and Wilhelm Ranisch in 1903. English translators are not consistent on the translations of the names of the Eddic poems or on how the Old Norse forms should be rendered in English. Up to three translated titles are given below, taken from the translations of Bellows and Larrington with proper names in the normalized English forms found in John Lindow's Norse Mythology and in Andy Orchard's Cassell's Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend.
Egil's Saga or Egill's saga is an Icelandic saga on the lives of the clan of Egill Skallagrímsson, an Icelandic farmer and skald. The saga spans the years c. 850–1000 and traces the family history from Egil's grandfather to his offspring. Its oldest manuscript dates back to 1240 AD, comprises the sole source of information on the exploits of Egil, whose life is not recorded. Stylistic and other similarities between Egil's Saga and Heimskringla have led many scholars to believe that they were the work of the same author, Snorri Sturluson; the work is referred to as Egla by Icelandic scholars. The saga begins in Norway around 850, with the life of Egil's grandfather Ulf aka Kveldulf or "Evening Wolf", his two sons Thorolf and Skallagrim. Strife with the royal house drive the family out of the country, they settle in Iceland; the brothers Egil and Thorolf Skallagrimsson are born. They have a tenuous tenure in Norway, but Egil is outlawed and they roam Scandinavia and serve the king of England. Egil tries to reclaim property back in Norway, but this is blocked, Egil develops a personal vendetta against the King.
There are vivid descriptions of his other fights and friendships, his relationship with his family, his old age, the fate of his own son Thorstein and his children, who had many children of their own. The saga ends around the year 1000 and spans many generations. Ulf had Hallbjorn Halftroll as his maternal uncle, was known for his surpassing size and strength, he had accrued land and property from viking raids, was a man of wisdom. He earned the nickname Kveldulf because of his erratic temper at nightfall, reputation for manifesting the so-called "shape-shifter" abilities, explained in chapters to be comparable with berserk fury. Extreme personal traits like these are manifested by his son Skallagrim and his grandson Egil as well. King Harald Fairhair was warring to unite all of Norway. Kveldulf refused to assist the local king of Fjordane, but rebuffed Harald's overtures as well, incurring his wrath. A compromise was mediated by Olvir Hnufa, Kveldulf's brother-in-law and Harald's court poet: Kveldulf was to send his elder son Thorolf, as soon as he returned from viking expedition.
Thorolf served the king well, but suspicion fell on him due to his becoming overly successful, exacerbated by words of slanderers. Thorolf was killed by the king who led a band of warriors, the rift would force Skallagrim and his father Kveldulf to flee Norway to settle in Iceland. Skallagrim journeyed to Harald's court seeking compensation for the death of his brother Thorolf, but offended the king and had to make a hasty exit empty-handed. Skallagrim and Kveldulf recaptured a boat, seized from Thorolf, after killing everyone on board, sent a taunting poem to the King. In the battle, Kveldulf displayed his "frenzy", which left him weakened; when the family emigrated to Iceland, Kveldulf did not survive the trip, his coffin was set adrift. Near the spot where the coffin washed ashore in Iceland, Skallagrim established his settlement, which he named Borg, he took up a peaceful livelihood as a farmer and blacksmith, raised his sons and Egil. The saga proceeds to describe the lives of Thorolf and Egil Skallagrimsson, born in Iceland, making their way to Norway in adulthood.
Thorolf visited Skallagrim's old friend in Thorir the Hersir. Here Thorolf befriended Harald's favorite son and Thorir's fosterling, he approached the prince with a gift of a painted warship that Eirik was admiring, on advice of Bjorn, Thorir's brother-in-law. Afterwards Eirik Bloodaxe was crowned co-king, as Thorolf headed home to Iceland, the king gave him a gold-inlaid ax as a gift to Skallagrim. Skallagrim abused the ax and shattered it, reciting an insulting poem about it to Thorolf and handing back what was left of the axe, a sooty handle with a rusted blade. Thorolf flung the axe overboard, but reported to King Eirik that his father was grateful for the axe, presenting a bolt of longship sail cloth pretended to be from Skallagrim. In this way Thorolf managed to somewhat keep the peace between King Eirik Bloodaxe. Egil's boyhood foreshadowed poetic prowess, his unbridled behavior and strength beyond his age earned him a stay at home when a feast was held by Yngvar. Egil defiantly rode a horse to attend, composed his first skaldic verse at age three.
At the age of seven while playing in the ball games, he committed his first murder. By the time Egil was twelve few grown men could compete with him in games, but when he and his friend challenged his father one day, Skallagrim manifested such strength at nightfall that he slammed the friend dead against the ground. Egil was so upset he killed one of his father's favorite workers, the two were not on speaking terms; the summer after Egil's father killed his friend, Thorolf came home to visit Iceland. Egil forcibly insisted on accompanying Thorolf back to Norway. On this trip, Thorolf was taking alongside his prospective wife, Asgerd (Ásgerðr Bja
Laxdæla saga. Written in the 13th century, it tells of people in the Breiðafjörður area of Iceland from the late 9th century to the early 11th century; the saga focuses on a love triangle between Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir, Kjartan Ólafsson and Bolli Þorleiksson. Kjartan and Bolli grow up together as close friends but the love they both have for Guðrún causes enmity between them and, in the end, their deaths. Second only to Njáls saga in the number of medieval manuscripts preserved, Laxdæla saga remains popular and appreciated for its poetic beauty and pathetic sentiment; as is the case with the other Icelanders' sagas, the author of Laxdæla saga is unknown. Since the saga has been regarded as an unusually feminine saga, it has been speculated that it was composed by a woman; the extensive knowledge the author shows of locations and conditions in the Breiðafjörður area show that the author must have lived in Western Iceland. Internal evidence shows that the saga must have been composed sometime in the period 1230-1260.
On several occasions, Laxdæla saga explicitly cites. It twice refers to the writings of Ari Þorgilsson, once to a lost Þorgils saga Höllusonar and once to a Njarðvíkinga saga an alternative name for Gunnars þáttr Þiðrandabana; the author was likely familiar with a number of other written historical sources. The main sources of the author must have been oral traditions, which he or she fleshed out and shaped according to his or her tastes. Laxdæla saga is preserved in numerous manuscripts; the oldest manuscript to contain the saga in its entirety is Möðruvallabók dating to the mid-14th century. There are five vellum fragments, the oldest dating to ca. 1250, numerous young paper manuscripts, some of which are valuable for textual criticism of the saga. Scholars have divided the manuscripts into two groups, the Y group, which includes Möðruvallabók, the Z group, which includes the oldest fragment; the greatest divergence between the groups is that the Y group contains an addition of ten chapters to the saga.
These chapters were not written by the original author and are regarded by scholars as a separate work, Bolla þáttr Bollasonar. Another difference between the groups is that the theft of Kjartan's sword is narrated in two different ways. Most other differences between the manuscripts are minor variations in wording. Laxdæla saga begins in Norway in the late ninth century as Ketill Flatnose and his children leave Norway to escape the tyranny of Harald Fairhair; the saga focuses in particular on Ketill's daughter Unnr the Deep-Minded. Unnr leaves Norway to travel with her family to Iceland. In the saga when she hears that her father and her son are dead, she has a ship built so that she can take all of her surviving kinsmen as well as a great deal of wealth to safety. Unnr goes on to travel to Scotland and the Orkney and Faroe Islands before claiming lands in Breiðafjörður in Western Iceland. In life, Unnr decides to leave her wealth to Olaf, the youngest of Thorstein's children, she decided to leave her inheritance to him because he was good looking and likable.
The saga describes her ship burial. The next principal character is great-grandson of Unnr, he travels to Norway to acquire wood for house-building. While abroad, he purchases a beautiful and expensive slave-girl, he meets King Hákon the Good, who gives him wood, as well as a ring and a sword. Höskuldr travels back to Iceland. Höskuldr and the slave-girl have a child named Olaf nicknamed Olaf the Peacock. One day, when Olaf is two years old, Höskuldr finds his mother talking by a stream. Höskuldr tells the slave-girl that she asks for her name, she reveals that she is Melkorka, daughter of King Mýrkjartan of Ireland, that she was taken captive at the age of fifteen. Höskuldr fights the reanimated Hrappr. Olaf the Peacock grows up to be a well-mannered man; when he is eighteen years old he travels abroad. He first goes to Norway where he pays his respects to King Harald Greycloak and befriends his mother, Gunnhildr; when Gunnhildr learns that Olaf wants to travel to Ireland to seek his grandfather, she orders a ship to be made ready for him and gives him a crew of sixty men.
Olaf sails to Ireland but ends up with his ship stranded in an unfavorable area, far from any port. Local Irishmen lay claim to all property according to Irish law on ship strandings. Olaf, fluent in Irish, refuses to give up the ship; the Irish attempt to take the ship by force but Olaf and his men resist. King Mýrkjartan arrives at the scene. Olaf tells the king that he is the son of Melkorka, his daughter, offers him a gold ring from Melkorka as proof. Mýrkjartan had given his daughter the ring as a teething present; as the king examines the ring, his face grows red and he acknowledges Olaf as his kinsman. Olaf and his men spend the winter with the king. Mýrkjartan offers Olaf to inherit the crown but he rejects the offer and travels back home. Olaf's journey abroad has brought him great renown and he now settles in Iceland, he marries daughter of Egill Skallagrímsson. Olaf and Þorgerðr have a number including the promising Kjartan; as Höskuldr dies, he gives Olaf, his illegitimate son, the ring and sword which King Hákon had given him.
Olaf's half-brother, Þorleikr, takes offence at this. In order to make peace with his brother, Olaf offers to foster Þorleikr's so
Old Swedish is the name for two distinct stages of the Swedish language that were spoken in the Middle Ages: Early Old Swedish, spoken from around 1225 until 1375, Late Old Swedish, spoken from 1375 until 1526. Old Swedish developed from the eastern dialect of Old Norse; the earliest forms of the Swedish and Danish languages, spoken between the years 800 and 1100, were dialects of Old East Norse and are referred to as Runic Swedish and Runic Danish because at the time all texts were written in the runic alphabet. The differences were only minute and the dialects began to diverge around the 12th century, becoming Old Swedish and Old Danish in the 13th century, it is not known when Old Gutnish and Elfdalian began to diverge from Swedish, but Old Gutnish diverged long before Old Danish did. Early Old Swedish was markedly different from modern Swedish in that it had a more complex case structure and had not yet experienced a reduction of the gender system and thus had three genders. Nouns, adjectives and certain numerals were inflected in four cases: nominative, genitive and accusative.
The writing of the Westrogothic law marked the beginning of Early Old Swedish, which had developed from Old East Norse. It was the first Swedish language document written in the Latin alphabet, its oldest fragments have been dated to around the year 1225. Old Swedish was stable during this period; the phonological and grammatical systems inherited from Old Norse were well preserved and did not experience any major changes. Most of the texts from the Early Old Swedish period were written in Latin, as it was the language of knowledge and the Church. However, Old Swedish was used as a literary language as well, laws were written in it. Much of the knowledge of Old Swedish comes from these law texts. In addition to laws, some religious and poetic texts were written in Old Swedish; the Catholic Church and its various monastic orders introduced many new Greek and Latin loanwords into Old Swedish. Latin had an influence on the written language; the Middle Low German language influenced Old Swedish due to the economic and political power of the Hanseatic League during the 13th and 14th centuries.
Many German speakers worked in trade and administration. Accordingly, loanwords relating to warfare, trade and bureaucracy entered the Swedish language directly from Low German, along with some grammatical suffixes and conjunctions; the prefixes be-, ge- and för- that can be found in the beginning of modern Swedish words came from the Low German be-, ge- and vor-. Some words were replaced with new ones: the native word for window, vindøgha, was replaced with fönster, eldhus was replaced with kök and gælda with betala; some of these words still exist in Modern Swedish but are considered archaic or dialectal. Many words related to seafaring were borrowed from Dutch; the influence of Low German was so strong that the inflectional system of Old Swedish was broken down. In contrast to the stable Early Old Swedish, Late Old Swedish experienced many changes, including a simplification of the grammatical system and a vowel shift, so that in the 16th century the language resembled modern Swedish more than before.
The printing of the New Testament in Swedish in 1526 marked the starting point for modern Swedish. In this period Old Swedish had taken in a large amount of new vocabulary from Latin, Low German and Dutch; when the country became part of the Kalmar Union in 1397, many Danish scribes brought Danicisms into the written language. Old Swedish used some letters that are no longer found in modern Swedish: ⟨æ⟩ and ⟨ø⟩ were used for modern ⟨ä⟩ and ⟨ö⟩ and ⟨þ⟩ could stand for both /ð/ and /θ/. In the latter part of the 14th century ⟨þ⟩ was replaced with ⟨th⟩ and ⟨dh⟩; the grapheme ⟨i⟩ could stand for both the phonemes /i/ and /j/. The graphemes ⟨u⟩, ⟨v⟩, ⟨w⟩ were used interchangeably with the phonemes /v/ and /u/, ⟨w⟩ could sometimes stand for the consonant-vowel combinations /vu/ and /uv/: dwa. Certain abbreviations were used in writing, such as ⟨mꝫ⟩ for meþ; the letter combinations ⟨aa⟩ and ⟨oe⟩ were written so that one of the letters stood above the other as a smaller letter, which led to the development of the modern letters ⟨å⟩, ⟨ä⟩, ⟨ö⟩.
The root syllable length in Old Swedish could be long or overlong. During the Late Old Swedish period the short root syllables were lengthened and the overlong root syllables were shortened, so modern Swedish only has the combinations V:C and VC:. Unlike in modern Swedish, a short vowel in Old Swedish did not entail a long consonant. There were eight vowels in Early Old Swedish: /iː, yː, uː, oː, eː, aː, øː, ɛː/. A vowel shift occurred during the Late Old Swedish period, which had the following effects: became became became The consonant sounds were the same as in modern Swedish, with the notable exceptions of /ð/ and /θ/, which do not exist in modern Swedish; the Modern Swedish tje-sound and sje-sound were and, respectively. A similar change can be seen from Old Spanish and to Modern Spanish