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|Created by||Neil Whalley|
|Native speakers||13 million (2011)|
Official language in
Norþimris [nɔɹˈθɪmrɪs] (also Northimris or Northumbrian in English) is a Germanic language spoken by the people of Norþimer, one of the four states of Great Britain alongside Scotland, England and Wales. Physically situated between Scotland and England, Norþimris shares much in common with Scots and English, all of which descend from Old English, and may be seen as part of a dialect continuum with those two languages. However, unlike its neighbours, Norþimris has very little influence from French and retains a much stronger Anglo-Norse vocabulary.
- 1 History
- 2 Phonology
- 3 Grammar
- 4 Sample Texts
- 5 Vocabulary
- 6 Personal Names
Norþimris has its origins in the Northumbrian dialect of Old English, once spoken across central Britain between the River Humber and the Firth of Forth. Though already somewhat distinct from the dialects of Old English spoken further south due to the heavy Norse influence and the substantial reduction in inflexions, it would be the political changes of the late 11th century that ensured Norþimer developed as a language different from its neighbours to the north and south. Following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror (Wilem Bastard) was faced with strong opposition to his rule, not least from the fiercely independent Anglo-Norse nobles of the north. Despite repeated attempts to subdue them William was never able to conquer the north and, as the Normans consolidated their hold over southern England, the old earldom of Northumbria developed into a self-governing rebel state, eventually declaring itself an independent kingdom in AD 1100.
The period c.1100-1600 is called Early Norþimris. At the start of this period the language was really indistinguishable from the Anglian dialects of late Old and early Middle English, but as English (and Scots) became increasingly influenced by French and Medieval Latin the differences increased. During this period, Norþimris lost most of its remaining inflexions and underwent important phonological changes culminating in the Great Vowel Shift. As a language of government, law and literature it became increasingly flexible and sophisticated.
Modern Norþimris is said to begin c.1600 when the Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance encouraged efforts to standardise and describe the language, and simultaneously increased borrowing from Classical and Romance sources. During this period Norþimris became the language of religion alongside government and literature, and from the late 18th century it increasingly became a 'popular' language with written forms more representative of the spoken language. The spelling system of Þoruuff Þorsteynsun, published in 1877, was adopted as the official written form in 1884 and has remained in use ever since.
Norþimris is an a posteriori language based on Northumbrian Old English and Northern Middle English and influenced by the various modern dialects of northern England as well as Scots (and to some degree Dutch). It was developed as an answer to the hypothetical question "What would English sound like if William the Conqueror had never conquered the north?". Since French and Latin have so heavily influenced English vocabulary, grammar and orthography, I expected the result to be considerably different from Modern English. However, Modern English has also been heavily influenced by northern forms with many of the innovations of Middle and Early Modern English originating in the north (e.g. spread of plural -s, spread of 3rd person verb -s, use of they, them, their', use of hers, yours etc.).
There is a great deal of dialect variation across Norþimer, but there are generally considered to be four main dialects:
- Southern, which is the closest to a 'standard' dialect, found in Yorucschir
- Northern, extending north from Weer Ey (River Wear) to the Scottish border
- Western, the dialect west of the moors
- South-western, the dialect of the Þreeplands, sometimes called Þreeplandris
The consonant inventory of Norþimris is very similar to that of English and has changed little since the Old English period.
|Plosive||p b||t d||k g|
|Fricative||f v||θ ð||s z||ʃ||h|
|Flap or tap||ɾ|
- /ɹ/ is an allophone of /ɾ/ found before consonants.
The Norþimris vowel system is probably best understood as consisting of 6 short vowels, 7 historically 'long' vowels (which are more commonly pronounced as diphthongs) and 4 true diphthongs.
The short vowels are shown in the table below. They include the reduced vowel /ə/, which may be an allophonic variant of any other short vowel in an unstressed syllable.
The 'Long' Vowels and Diphthongs
The distribution of Norþimris long vowels and diphthongs is complicated. In general there is a tendency to pronounce historically long vowels as diphthongs in most environments.
|(/i̯a/)||ea||an allophone of /eə/ in initial position|
|(/oə/)||oo||an occasional allophone of /oː/ dialectally|
Primary stress is usually on the first syllable of a word (e.g. ápel, átermot, héfenlie). The prefixes a-, be- and fer- do not usually bear stress, so the following element takes it (e.g. ahínt, fersétand).
Norþimris is written with a Latin alphabet consisting of the following letters:
a b c d ð e f g h i l m n o p r s t þ u w x y z
The letters j, k, q and v do not occur, except in unassimilated borrowings. The letters ð (called eð) and þ (þorn) are retained from the runic alphabet.
The orthography is almost entirely phonemic, except notably in the case of s, the pronunciation of which is not always predictable in final position. The following table gives all the relevant values of the letters and digraphs.
|/a/||before word-final h|
|cg||/d͡ʒ/||traditionally not permitted to occur word initially, but now used in borrowings such as cgin 'engine'|
|d||/d/||word-final nd tends to become /nt/ or /nː/ (e.g. Ingland /ɪŋlənː/)|
|/ja/||often word initially or after initial /h/ (e.g. ean 'one' /jan/, heam /hjam/)|
|eu||/iə/||/ɪu̯/ in areas bordering Scotland|
|f||/f/||initially or before a voiceless plosive|
|/v/||medially and finally|
|/f/||finally following u|
|ie||/ɪ/||word-finally in unstressed syllables, notably the endings -ie, -lie (e.g. nouhtie 'poor').|
|/ʊ/||before word-final h|
|r||/ɾ/||before a vowel|
|/ɹ/||before a consonant|
|s||/s/||initially, adjacent to a voiceless consonant and sometimes finally after a vowel|
|/z/||between vowels or adjacent to a voiced sound, sometimes finally after a vowel|
|ss||/s/||only occurs following short vowels|
|/ə/||in final, unstressed syllables|
|hw||/ʍ/||in some dialects, tending to become /h/ before round vowels and /w/ elsewhere|
|z||/t͡s/||rare, used mostly in borrowed words|
- the pronunciation of <s> is not always predictable from its environment. In this article, voiceless /s/ will be written <ṡ> where confusion may arise (e.g. huyṡ 'house', riyṡ 'rice').
The indefinite article is identical to English: a before a consonant and an before a vowel (e.g. a man, an apel).
The definite article is 't in all cases (e.g. 't man, 't apel).
Nouns have no grammatical gender and case is limited to the genitive.
The plural of most nouns ends in -s, or -is after a sibilant (e.g. apels, huysis).
A few nouns have a rare plural in -(e)n or -er:
- ein 'eyes', ousen 'oxen', sceun 'shoes'
- lamer 'lambs', caufer 'calves' (sg. cauff), souter 'sheep', childer 'children' (no sg.).
There is also a small number of nouns with a change of vowel in the plural:
- man 'man' → men, wiman 'woman' → wimen, hand 'hand' → hend
- teuþ 'tooth' → teiþ, feut 'foot' → feit, geuṡ 'goose' → geiṡ
- muyṡ 'mouse' → miys, cuy 'cow' → ciy, luyṡ 'louse' → liyṡ.
The genitive has two forms:
- the dependent genitive is used directly before a noun or noun phrase and is unmarked (e.g. 't man huyṡ 'the man's house', his faðer sun 'his father's son').
- the independent genitive usually occurs as the complement in a copular construction and is marked with -s (-is after a sibilant; e.g. 't huyṡ is Cetels 'the house is Cetel's', ðat 's his faðers 'that's his fathers').
Adjectives precede the noun they qualify and are generally immutable, regardless of number or case (e.g. a micel hund 'a big dog', 't hwiyt deors 'the white doors').
All regular adjectives may form a comparative with the addition of -er and a superlative with -est (e.g. aud 'old' → auder, audest, healie 'holy' → healier, healiest).
The alternative endings -mer and -mest are also sometimes added colloquially to other adjectives, creating forms such as betermer, betermest.
The comparative adjective is frequently used with an 'than' (e.g. Cetel 's greeter an Micel 'Cetel's bigger than Michael'). An equative structure can be created with the adverbs auṡ ... auṡ or swea ... auṡ and the positive adjective (e.g. auṡ hwiyt auṡ snea 'as white as snow', swea stil auṡ a muyṡ 'as quiet as mouse').
|21||ean an twentie||ean an twentiand|
Several of the personal pronouns have different stressed and unstressed forms. The stressed forms are only used in speech and writing when particular emphasis is put on the pronoun, such as when they occur independently (e.g. ic leuf him 'I love him', hwea didd ðat? Yuy 'who did that? You') . Elsewhere, the unstressed forms are used (e.g. hi wuns in Yoruc 'he lives in York').
- the 2nd person singular -tu is an enclitic form used with interrogative verbs (e.g. censtu Cetel? 'do you know Cetel?').
- the 3rd person singular forms him, her and hit are pronounced without the h in unstressed position, but this is not expressed in writing.
- as in English, hi/hei are used for male humans, su/scheu for females and hit for inanimate objects.
- Norþimris maintains a T/V distinction, in which 2nd person plural yei etc. can be used as formal 'you' when addressing a single person. Its use is generally more restricted than in many European languages, only used in particularly formal situations and not necessarily expected when speaking to elders or strangers.
- there is an informal use of us/uus in place of mi/mie (e.g. gie us hit 'give me it').
The genitive pronouns have dependent and independent forms, used like the nominal equivalents.
There is no independent form for the 3rd person neuter.
Reflexive pronouns are formed with -(s)seln, irregularly pronounced /sɛl/ or /sɛn/ according to dialect, which is added to the object pronouns (e.g. misseln 'myself', herṡeln 'herself'). These pronouns are more emphatic than their English counterparts and the object pronouns are preferred when the sense of reflexiveness is already implied (e.g. i sau mi in 't schewer 'I saw myself in the mirror').
The demonstrative pronouns are:
- ðiss 'this' and ðir 'these', used for objects close at hand or abstracts metaphorically so;
- ðat 'that' and ðea 'those', used for objects or abstracts at a distance or out of sight;
- yon 'that, those', used only for objects in sight but at a distance.
These may be employed as demonstrative adjectives, preceding the noun (e.g. ðat wiyff 'that woman', yon fel 'that mountain').
The interrogatives are:
- pronouns: hwea 'who', hwat 'what', hwilc 'which', referring to things already mentioned or implied, hweðer 'which of two';
- adjectives: hwilc 'what, which', hweaṡ 'whose';
- adverbs: hwiy 'why', huy 'how', hwear 'where', hwan 'when'.
Norþimris has only two conjugated tenses: the present and the past. Beyond this, a number of moods, tenses and voices are created using auxiliary verbs and modals.
All regular verbs follow the same pattern in the present tense, given below with leuf 'love':
Whenever the present tense verb is separated from its pronoun or is used with a noun, the -s form is used throughout (e.g. ic, your cining, beeds yu 'I, your king, command you', 't men sings 'the men sing').
In the past tense, regular verbs may be divided into strong and weak conjugations, the former conjugating by a vowel change, the latter by the addition of a suffix. There are no distinctions of person in the past tense.
Following the typical Germanic classification, there are 7 classes of strong verb, each with different changes in the past tense and the past participle:
Weak verbs form their past tense with a dental suffix, the form of which depends on the stem:
- stems ending in -l, -m, -n, -nd or a voiceless consonant take -t (e.g. smelt 'smelled', fiyct 'fidgetted', lamt 'beat');
- stems ending in -d or -t take -it (e.g. liltit 'hummed', bratit 'curdled, breedit 'stretched');
- other stems take -d (e.g. bleðerd 'talked loudly', ligd 'lay', hiysd 'hoisted').
A number of verbs in <ei> may undergo shortening in the past. Those in eid, eit take an additional -d or -t (e.g. bleid → bledd, meit → mett, sleip → slept/sleept). The following weak verbs are irregular in the past: teech 'show, explain' → taut, seic 'seek' → sout, þenc 'think' → þout, wurc 'work' → wrout, reec 'reach' → rout, lach 'catch' → laut, rec 'pay attention to' → rout, dou 'be of use' → dout, reic 'smell' → 'reyt.
The imperative of regular verbs is identical to the stem (e.g. leuf mi 'love me', eet ðiy meet 'eat your food').
The present participle of all verbs is formed with -and (e.g. leufand 'loving', singand 'singing').
The past participle of most weak verbs is identical to the past tense form (e.g. leufd 'loved', ligd 'laid'). The strong verbs form a past participle with -(e)n and a change of vowel, as shown in the table above but a number of weak verbs ending in -d, -t also form their past participle in -en (e.g. breeden 'stretched', leaden 'loaded').
A number of irregular verbs occur in Norþimris, the most important of which is bei 'be':
|Present||is, 's||ar, 'r||beiand|
The contracted forms 's and 'r are very common in all but the most formal writing and stand alone in the sentence (e.g. 't man 's singand 'the man's singing').
Other irregular verbs are:
|Present||Past||Present Ptc||Past Ptc|
Each of the present forms takes -s in the 2nd and 3rd person singular, but hea has the separate form has.
The majority of tenses in Norþimris are form periphrastically.
|Present Continuous||present of bei + present participle||i 's singand||I am singing|
|Past Continuous||past of bei + present participle||i wer singand||I was singing|
|Perfect||present of hea + past participle||i hea sungen||I have sung|
|present of bei + past participle||i 's faun||I have fallen|
|Pluperfect||past of hea + past particple||i hadd sungen||I had sung|
|past of bei + past participle||i wer faun||I had fallen|
|Future||auxiliary sal + stem||i sal sing||I will sing|
In the perfect and pluperfect, bei is used with unaccusative verbs, i.e. verbs in which the subject is not the agent but the patient of the verb (e.g. 't snea 's mouten 'the snow has melted').
|au-||all-, pan-, omni-||augeud 'omnibenevolent'|
|be-||makes intrans. verbs trans.||beþink 'consider'|
|ean-||one, mono-, uni-, sole, only||eanreed 'unanimous, resolute'|
|ed-||re-, again,||edgrou 'regrow'|
|eer-||early, ancient, primary||eerdey 'ancient times'|
|em-||even, equal, co-||emlang 'of equal length'|
|feur-||fore-, before, pro-, pre-||feurgang 'precede'|
|forþ-, for-||forward, pro-||forgang 'proceed, progress'|
|heed-||head, chief, main||heedcirc 'cathedral'|
|hey-||high, arch-, main||heystreet 'highstreet, main road'|
|lees-||false, pseudo-||leesneam 'pseudonym'|
|miṡ-||bad, wrong, fault||misdeu 'do wrongly'|
|un-||un-, in-||uncuyþ 'unknown, strange'|
|Adjectives & Adverbs|
|-en||made of, like a material||gouden 'golden', eacen 'oaken'|
|-ffast||stuck, firm, secure||cragffast 'stuck on a crag'|
|-ffaud||multiplicative||þreiffaud 'threefold', meniffaud 'numerous'|
|-ffuy||full of||sacffuy 'quarrelsome', earffuy 'compassionate'|
|-ie||general adj. ending||dewie 'dewy', pretie 'cunning, sly'|
|-iṡ||of, pertaining to (particularly with countries etc.)||Scotis 'Scottish', foucis 'popular'|
|-leṡ||deprivative||neamleṡ 'nameless', frendleṡ 'friendless'|
|-lie||like, pertaining to||hefenlie 'heavenly', sumerlie 'summerlike'|
|-ṡum||characterised by, having; -able||angṡum 'irritating', leufṡum 'lovable'|
|-wiyṡ||like in manner||reitwiyṡ 'just', neidwiyṡ 'necessary'|
|-craft||skill, occupation||develcraft 'Satanism', taucraft 'arithmetic'|
|-dem||i. domain, jurisdiction
ii. condition, state
|ciningdem 'kingdom' |
|-en||feminine||giden 'goddess', fixen 'vixen'|
|-er||i. male agent
iii. inhabitant of
|leufer 'lover' |
Yorucer 'inhabitant of York'
|-ffuy||measurement of||handffuy 'handful'|
|-head||abstract, condition, quality; office, rank||preesthead 'priesthood', woruldhead 'secular world'|
|-ing||verbal nouns||geting 'conception'|
|-iṡ||languages||Engliṡ 'English', Ebriṡ 'Hebrew'|
|-leyc||condition, state||reifleyc 'robbery'|
|-ling||diminutive (often pejorative)||recling 'runt', manling 'little man'|
|-man||agent, person||freeman, pleuman 'ploughman'|
|-neṡ||abstract state, quality||geudneṡ 'goodness', micelneṡ 'largeness, abundance'|
|-reden||condition, state||sibreden 'relationship', cinreden 'kin'|
|-ric||office, dominion||cinric 'kingdom', biscopric 'bishopric'|
|-schip||condition, state||manschip 'humanity'|
|-ster||female agent||spinster 'spinner'|
|-ṡum||a group of||sexṡum 'group of six'|
|-uc||diminutive||paduc 'toad', hilluc 'hillock'|
|-wiyff||female agent, woman||huyṡwiyff 'housewife'|
|-en||causative, to make or become||hwiyten 'make white'|
The basic word order of Norþimris is Subject-Verb-Object:
- i leuf ði 'I love you'
- Cetel sang 't sang 'Cetel sang the song
- Maria leers Frencis 'Maria teaches French'
Unlike some other Germanic languages, Norþimris prefers to keep auxiliary and lexical verbs together:
- Cetel 's singand 't sang 'Cetel is singing the song'
- ðu hadd seen him 'you had seen him'
A direct object follows an indirect object, unless both are personal pronouns, in which case the direct object comes first:
- hi gaf Ascil 't beuc 'he gave Askil the book'
- hi gaf hit him 'he gave it to him'
Adverbial expressions are not in a fixed position and generally come at the beginning or end of the sentence:
- yestren, gangd i til 't seichuyṡ 'yesterday, I went to the hospital'
- i gangd til 't seichuyṡ yestren 'I went to the hospital yesterday'
Adverbs of manner are placed close to the words to which they relate:
- su leyct wel 't geamen / su leyct 't geamen wel 'she played the game well'
- wi ran snel heam / wi ran heam snel 'we ran home fast'
When an adverbial or other element is placed before the verb, the subject is moved to come after the auxiliary verb:
- in a circ wer ðey wedit 'in a church they were married'
- tomorn, sal i gang til 't sceul 'tomorrow I will go to school'
The relative pronoun is at:
- 't wiyff at i leuf 'the woman who I love'
- a barn at cens au 'a child that knows everything'
The Lord's Prayer
|Þt Dreet Beid
Uur Faðer at is in hefen
Halud siy ðiy neam
Ðiy cinric becum
Ðiy wil wurð deon
On erd auṡ in hefen
Gie uss uur deylie leaff todey
An fergie uss uur scilds
Auṡ wie fergie uur scildiers
Leid not uss til costing
Auh free uss frea il
Þiyn is 't cinric an 't meyn an 't wuuder, for-ea
|The Lord's Prayer |
Our father who is in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever
The Night's Watch Pledge
|'T Neit Ward Eaþ
Neit gaðers an nuu agins miy ward.
Hit sal not end oð miy deeþ.
Ic sal tac nea wiyff, haud nea lands, faðer nea barns.
Ic sal beer nea bey an adel nea reuþ.
Ic sal leef an dey at miy stau.
Ic is 't sord in 't mirc. Ic is 't weacer on 't waus.
Ic is 't scheild at wards 't riycs o men.
Ic wed miy liyff an miyn ear til 't Neit Ward, þruh ðiss neit an ilc neit heðen.
|The Night's Watch Pledge|
Night gathers, and now my watch begins.
It shall not end until my death.
I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children.
I shall wear no crowns and win no glory.
I shall live and die at my post.
I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls.
I am the shield that guards the realms of men.
I pledge my life and honour to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
|Greetings ~ Heylsings|
|Good morning||Geud morn|
|Good afternoon||Geud ourneun|
|Good evening||Geud ein|
|Good night||Geud neit|
|Goodbye||Geud dey (fml) |
|How are you?||Huy 'stu? (inf) |
Huy 'r yi? (fml)
|Fine thanks, and you?||Wel, þank yu, an yei? (fml) |
|What's your name?||Hwat heatstu? |
Hwat heat yi? (fml)
|My name is Ascil||I heat Ascil|
|Where are you from?||Hwear 'stu frea? (inf) |
Hwear ar yi frea?
|I'm from Durham||I 's frea Dunhoum|
|The Basics ~ 'T Stounlies|
|Yes||Ey, aie |
|Please||Gin yi wil|
|Thank you||Þank yu (fml) |
Feel þanks 'many thanks'
|Excuse me||Ferleit mei|
|Et cetera ~ An Swea Forþ|
|Good luck||Hap til ði (inf) |
Hap til yu
|Bon Appetit!||Meis yu wel|
|I love you||I leuf ði|
|Get well soon||Sceut betering|
|Happy Birthday||Eedie Birddey|
|Merry Christmas||Glad Yuyl|
|Happy New Year||Eedie Niw Yeer|
Personal names are generally of Germanic origin, inherited from Old English and Old Norse, or have been borrowed at various periods from the Christian tradition.
|Norþimris Name||English Equivalent||Alternate forms||Notes|
|Ander||Andrew||Andreas (Bib.), Anda|
|Maþe||Matthew||Mateus (Bib.), Mata|
|Peeter||Peter||Petrus (Bib.), Peet|
|Yacob||James, Jacob||Yacobus (Bib.), Yaca|
|Yon||John||Yohanes (Bib.), Yona|
|Zacarie||Zachary||Zacarias (Bib.), Zaca|