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Old Norse (was Re: New to the list)

From:Oskar Gudlaugsson <hr_oskar@...>
Date:Saturday, June 17, 2000, 6:02
Padraic wrote:

> >Funny thing is, not a single "yes" appears in any of the ancient texts >(the > >Sagas). > >I didn't mean it literally! I remember "ek vil (eigi) that, herra." >Of course, eigi = not. In English the yes and no would probably be >there.
Forget the "herra". I don't recall seeing it in a saga. The setting of the sagas was more "egalitarian" than that of Feudal Europe at the same time. There were no peasants that had to say "Lord", "Sire", etc to bypassing knights so as not to have their heads chopped off (or was that Japan? :). And Icelandic (and Old Norse) has an unusual way of positioning its negative, so the sentence would be "ek vil that eigi", or, more stylistically, "that vil ek eigi".
>Fine with me: English has no honorific pronoun, and imperatives >(often involving nearly impossible sexual manoevers) are quite >common.
:) Well, I was mostly referring to my Ecuadorian girlfriend, who, being a Spanish-speakers, finds imperatives rather uncouth. And I think she misses her 'usted', poor thing (in Iceland, any single person is "þú", whether s/he is the president, a worker, an infant, or a cat). As regards English, the honorific pronoun has overtaken the normal 'thou' (I know you know that). I see this as the single most annoying, confusing, and intolerable part of the language: failure to make a singular-plural distinction in the second person pronouns. "You guys" can't always cover the plural, as it's very colloquial and often inappropriate. I've often heard English speakers say something like "you, and with you I mean all of you, as a nation, not you personally..." to me. One of those things I don't really understand how they could happen (as well as the overuse of the /-s/ morphophoneme).
>But I know they _had_ them, and it seems attached to the house, to >boot! But I expect an Icelandic winter night is no time to be >wandering about outside searching for the loo.
Actually I'm sure you'll find scenes including the toilet in an Icelandic sagas. It's just their kind of humour, say, something were a poor fellow is murdered while sitting on the toilet, unable to reach his sword in time ;) Oskar ________________________________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at