Category Archives: Language

Children — Barn

Don’t worry! I won’t post pictures of mine. Perhaps because I don’t have any, or perhaps because I care about my readers.

A few brief reflections however …

If you are a woman and want to know if a man likes children or not, ask him! Don’t ask another man “Does X like children?”, or actually, you can ask that question but ask the man himself too, then you’ll find out if the first guy is a liar. If another man says X doesn’t like children, there’s still 90 % chance that he does — at least his own.

In Yorkshire barn is a dialectal word for children. In Sweden barn is the word in standard language. In Gothic it’s barn. In Syriac it’s yalud (infant) or taly. However son is bar ܒܪ . Coincidence?

Skäggebarn is a new word in Swedish. It is made up of two pieces — skägg = beard, barn = barn. And then there is the connecting vowel. Swedish doesn’t use as many connecting vowels as Danish and Scanian so the form skäggbarn could have been expected, and indeed it occurs but rarely perhaps even more often than skäggebarn (corrected based on feedback from a reader).

A skäggebarn is a man aged above 18, who travels to a foreign country (such as Sweden) and upon asylum claims that he has lost his ID-card and that he is x years old, where x << 18. This simple deception has been well known for at least five years and it is not clear why the migration authority insisted on getting fooled in the face of criticism. Today, they have been ordered by the government to switch to a restrictive extreme, as if a car driver who has been in the left roadside ditch could make up for her mistake by slipping into the right one as well.

I found it curious that /e/ was used for connecting vowel here. Some investigation revealed that the forms with /e/ were mostly used by people from central Sweden. Scanians used /a/ at least as often. The connecting vowels are not completely understood. I suggest /a/ is partitive and /e/ is locative or instrumental. Lucazin1 suggest it is genitive and should be /a/ for masculine and neuter nouns, and /e/ for most feminine except some old irregular ones. In this case our rules agree and it should be skäggabarn in Scanian.

1 Utkast till ortografi över det Skånska språket, tabell 12.1 sid 124.

Comparison between Bornholmsk and Mainland Scanian sounds

A table which compares the phones of Bornholmsk (Espersen 1908 & Prince 1924) with those in mainland Scanian (from the north-western area according to Lucazin 2010).

Phoneme Bh IPA Scy. IPA words so pronounced
/a/ [a] [ɑ] or [a] land (country/land), kat (cat)
/ā/ [aː] [aː] or [ɑː] fara (travel), kar (man/chap)
/ɑ̄/ [ɑʊ]1 [aʊ̭], [ɑʊ̭] or [ɑː] dag (day), klar (clear)
/e/ [e] [ɛ] fett (fat/grease)
/ē/ or /ei/ [eː] [eː]2 ner (down), reza (journey v.)
/ai/ [æi] [ai] Scy. fail/Sv. fel (failure/wrong)
/ī/ [iː] [ei]3 kniʋ (knife)
/i/ [i] [i] or [ei̭] brink (brink), sil (herring)
/o/ no info [ʊ] or [eʊ̭]4 ondra (lower), gold (gold)
/ō/ “English oh [eʊ] sol (sun)
/ū/ [ʉː]?? [øʉ] skruʋa (screw)
/ȳ/ [yː] [øʏ] sky (sky), myra (ant)
/ǣ/ [əe] [ai] or [ɛː] knæ (knee)
/ø̄/ “i in bird [øː]5 rød (red), bøste (loin/flank/ham)
/ɔ̄/ [eʊ] nål (needle), see ō
/b/ [b] [b] bæra (carry), flab (mouth)
/d/ [d] [d] dra (drag/pull)
/f/ [f] [f] fæ (cattle)
/h/ [h] [h]
/j/ [j] [ɪ̭] jord (earth)
/l/ [l] [l] luka (weed v.)
/m/ [m] [m]
/p/ [p] [p]
/t/ [t] [t]
/g/ and /j/ [g] and [j] [g] and [ɪ]
/z/ [z] [s] snaka (talk)
/s/ [s] [s] Bh. sten/Scy. stain (stone)
/r/ [r] [ʁ]
/k/ and /ɕ/ [k], [t͡ɕ] and [ɕ] [k], [t͡ɕ] and [ɕ]
/n/, /ɲ/ and /ŋ/ [n], [ɲ] and [ŋ] [n] and [ŋ] springa (chink/slit)
/ʋ/ [ʋ] [ʋ] kiʋa (row/quarrel v.)

1 Since the sources predate IPA, Prince doesn’t mention it and it doesn’t exist in Danish, my sources really don’t say what it sounds like, but [ɑʊ] is likely.

2 [eː] I am pretty confident that this sound isn’t a common realization of /ē/ in NW Scania, since I grew up in NW Scania and I can pronounce it in speech only with very much difficulty. [ei̭] possible.

3 actually [ei̭ː] is the notation in Lucazin p. 27. Certainly, in the NW, the i is pronounced longer than the e.

4 [o] is my guess for both accents.

5 This should probably be a diphthong instead.

Literature used:
Utkast till ortografi över Skånska Språket (2010), M Lucazin.
The Danish Dialect of Bornholm (1924) John Dyneley Prince.
Bornholmsk Ordbog (1908) J C S Espersen & Konglige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab.

Wairþan — ain waurd bruk

Let’s look at this very used and useful Gothic word. Its meaning is pretty clear. From corresponding words in Latin and Sanskrit, we get the meaning to turn, and in analogy with the English word, wairþan is used in expressions like “turn into X”. It is still used in many Germanic languages in one form or another. For example Svensk Etymologisk Ordbok mentioned that the Scanian expression ʋuren (how something turns out relative to expectations) is a form of the perfect participle.

Common uses are:
1. to become

Ïbai jah jus wileiþ þamma siponjos wairþan? — John 9:27.
If even you want his disciples to become(?)

blindai ussaiƕand, jah haltai gaggand — Matthew 11:5.
blind see, and lame walk
Great, but how do we say leprous encleanify? We don’t. Like in English we rewrite it with a helping verb — namely wairþan:
blindai ussaiƕand, jah haltai gaggand, þrutsfillai hrainjai wairþand

2. to describe stochastic outcomes, mainly nature

Wegs mikils warþ ïn marein, swaswe þata skip gahuliþ wairþan fram wegim — Matthew 8:24.
Wave high there was at sea, so the ship covered to be(come) by waves

Another example of this use is the fixed expression warþ þan which is very useful for story telling. It occurs 15 times in the gospels:

Ref W&H R&P SyP Sinaitic palimp.
Matthew 7:28 και εγενετο και εγενετο ܘܗܘܐ ܕܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 1:8 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܗܘܐ ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ
Luke 1:11 omit omit omit omit
Luke 2:1 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ
Luke 2:6 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܗܘܐ ܕܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 3:21 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܟܕ
Luke 6:6 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ non ext.
Luke 8:22 εγενετο δε και εγενετο ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ
Luke 8:40 εν δε εγενετο δε omit ܘܟܕ
Luke 9:37 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܗܘܐ ܘܟܗܘ
Luke 9:51 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܗܘܐ ܕܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 9:57 και εγενετο δε ܘܟܕ ܘܟܕ
Luke 16:22 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ
Luke 18:35 εγενετο δε εγενετο δε ܘܟܕ ܘܟܕ
(John 10:22) εγενετο τοτε εγενετο δε ܗܘܐ ܕܝܢ ܘܗܘܐ ܗܘܐ

The table shows the text of Wescott&Hort’s Alexandrian Greek edition, Robinson & Pierpont’s Byzantine Greek edition, the Eastern Classical Syriac Peshitta and the Old Classical Syriac Sinaitic Palimpsest respectively, in the places where the Gothic version has warþ þan.

Gothic keyboard layout for Mac

Update 2020-02-19: A newer Keyboard Layout with more IPA characters is available from this page. It is recommended over the one below, unless you wish to write runes or use the special characters used for text critical mark-up in Nestlé Aland’s Greek NT.

Type in Latin, Wulfilan, IPA and Runic.
This one was made primarily for Nordic keyboards, so to an American or German user, for example, the location of some characters will feel unintuitive.
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