Lågtyskt och svenskt i Stockholms medeltida tänkeböcker

Abstract: The main aim of this study is to investigate which factors contributed to the extensive Middle Low German influence on Old Swedish during the Middle Ages and to test the hypothesis that bilinguals played an active role in this process. The study is based on material from the Stockholm city court records 1474—1508. Two city scribes kept the records during that time, Ingevald (1474—1487), undoubtedly of Swedish descent but of whom little is known, and his successor the bilingual Helmik van Norden (1487—1508) of German descent, whose family had lived in Stockholm for at least two generations. Approximately 1350 different words and expressions of Middle Low German origin have been examined with regard to their adaptation to Old Swedish graphonomic-phonologic and morphologic patterns. Marked differences between the two scribes have been observed. While Ingevald usually reproduces the Low German loan-words in an integrated form that conforms with the traditional Old Swedish norm, the loan-words in Helmik’s texts often appear in their original Middle Low German form. Helmik’s vocabulary of German origin is also more extensive and specialized than Ingevald’s. In Ingevald’s texts prefixes and suffixes of Low German origin appear mainly within the context of established loan-words, whereas Helmik uses the word formation possibilities he knows from Middle Low German to create new words as well. Close relationship between the two languages and similar structures have facilitated the transfer of loan-words and the creation of new words with both Low German and Old Swedish elements. Apparently Helmik represents an important group of bilinguals who served not only as intermediaries of Low German vocabulary but also as introducers of linguistic novelties. Loan-words sometimes appear in forms that reflect regional or colloquial variation in Middle Low German. In some cases these appear to be of Westphalian origin.