The Corresondences of English-Danish Cognate Words
San José State University

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Thayer Watkins
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The Corresondences of
English-Danish Cognate Words
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There are good historical reasons for English and Danish to be linguistically related. First of all the tribe of Angles of the fifth century Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain came from what is now southwestern Denmark. They settled in the midsection of Britain north to the Lowlands of Scotland. The Saxons came from the northwest coast of what is now Germany and they settled in southern England. There was a third trible, the Jutes, They settled in the extreme south coastal area of Britain. They came from what is now the northwestern area of Denmark and it still known as Jutland.

The primary influence of Danish on English came from the two centuries from about 800 CE to 1000 CE when the Danes controlled eastern Britain. During that time many people were fluent in both Danish and Old Engish (Anglo-Saxon) and elements of each language were unconsciously adopted in the other language and effectively simplified English through the elimination disparate differences.

There are also many cognate words in Danish and English which derive from the same sources; i.e. Latin and Greek. These primarily are technical terms.

There are correspondences on the level of the spoken languages and on level of the written languages. These will be referred to as phonetic correspondences and orthographic (spelling) correspondences.

The emphasis will be first on the orthographic correspondences. The hope is derive rules such that for a given English word if it has a Danish cognate then it would be spelled thus and so.

Cognates Differing Only Because
of the Use of Different Alphabetic Letters
to Represent the Same Sound

EnglishDanishExample(s)
hard ckcat → kat
cold → kold
final e(blank)private → privat
soft csprince → prins
ice → is
qukvquality → kvalitet
final yetpuberty → pubertet
final yicopy → kopi
wvwest → vest
warm → varm
whhvwhite → hvid
what → hvad
final tdwhite → hvid
flat → flad
foot → fod
final fvself → selv
half → halv
ouuhouse → hus
thtthing → ting
eaødead → død
deaf → døv
iøfirst → føst
xksexpert→ ekspert
extra → ekstra
sssexpress →ekspres
glass → glas
unuunofficial → uofficiel
shskwash → vaske

(To be continued.)

Combinatorial Forms

Some combinatorial forms, such as -tion are the same in both languages. Others are subject to systematic variation.

EnglishDanishExample(s)
s, es
plural
er
plural
phones → phoner
pills → piller
-ible-ibelcompatible → kompatibel
-ic-iskelectronic → elektronisk
erotic → erotisk
-ate-ereevacuate → evakuere
vacinate → vaksinere
-sh-skfish → fisk
-ual-uelvisual → visuel

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