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10579Re[2]: [norse_course] Old Norse grammar

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  • Brian M. Scott
    Sep 5, 2009
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      At 5:32:54 PM on Thursday, September 3, 2009, Scott wrote:

      > Is Modern Icelandic mutually unintelligible with Old
      > Norse?

      There have been some pretty extensive sound changes. There
      have also been semantic shifts, not to mention a good deal
      of new lexicon. In the personal pronouns the dual has
      replaced the plural in the first and second persons. There
      have been some changes in the endings of the mediopassive
      and subjunctive. I'm pretty sure that there have been some
      changes in sentence-level syntax as well, but I don't know
      enough to say just what they are, and I doubt that they're a
      very formidable obstacle to understanding.

      My best guess is that a fluent speaker of modern Icelandic
      wouldn't have too much trouble with classical ON once he got
      used to the sound changes. To make matters a bit easier, in
      many cases the modern spelling actually points to the older
      sound; <au>, <y>, and <ý> are good examples of this. I
      suspect that comprehension in the other direction would be
      harder but possible, especially if the modern speaker made a
      real effort to be cooperative.

      Brian
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