Lehnwörter – A Double Bill on Etymology & a Cultural History of Writing through Words

When: Week 8, 10 March  2023, 3–5pm

Where: 47 Wellington Square, 1st floor, lecture room 1

What: Double bill on etymology in German and English with Dr Aletta Leipold (Althochdeutsches Wörterbuch, Leipzig, working also on the history of magic) and Dr Philip Durkin (Oxford English Dictionary, author of ‘Borrowed Words’ & al.). This is part of Henrike Lähnemann’s Paper IV lecture series ‘Topics in German Historical Linguistics’, aimed at honours students of German literature and linguistics but open to anybody interested in history of the German language and its intersection with English.

Aletta Leipold: rûna, rîzan, scrîban – A Cultural History of Writing from the Old High German dictionary

The lecture will examine the evidence of transmission and usage of two Old High German termini technici for writing, rîzan and scrîban. The indigenous Germanic verb *wrîtan, which has remained the general term for the writing process in English, is displaced in German by the Latin loanword scrîbere. I will examine whether there is evidence of this process in Old High German, and where there are overlaps. The third part will focus on the Old High German noun rûna, which is frequently attested in North Germanic as the object of *wrîtan. Unlike in New High German, OHG rûna does not mean ‘rune, Germanic character’ but is predominantly associated with the oral realm. I will discuss whether the designation of the Germanic characters was transmitted into West Germanic or whether it perished with the runes themselves on the continent. Can we see traces of rûna being used in Old High German as a general term for a ‘written character’?

Lecture translated and read by William Thurlwell

Philip Durkin (Oxford English Dictionary): Lexical Borrowing – Fremdwörter, Lehnwörter and German words in English

How can we survey borrowings from German into (modern) English? How does borrowing from German compare with borrowing from other languages, in scale and nature? What issues are there in identifying loanwords, and various types of loan formations? Are concepts such as Fremdwort and Lehnwort of practical use, and what issues do they raise? Link to the OED.

Part of the Paper IV lecture series
Runic alphabets in St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 270, p. 52 – Educational manuscript 

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