Þriðji íhaldskarl

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Published Jan 1, 1970
Jón Helgason

Abstract

In the so-called Fourth Grammatical Treatise which is preserved in a 14th century manuscript (AM 242 fol., Codex Wormianus) there are incorporated three stanzas (one of them incomplete) in scaldic metre (dróttkvætt). The aim of the poet was apparently to point out the interrelationship of certain similar words, and it is striking that all of them have the vowels á, ó or æ (umlaut of a), ce (umlaut of ó) in the root syllable. The fact that the poet's interest was limited to words with these vowels indicates a connection between the stanzas and a phonetic ohange which took place in Icelandic in the 13th century: the rounded vowel oe was replaced by the unrounded Æ. The stanzas can be explained by assuming that the author was a conservative man who regretted that the previous distinction between the two umlaut vowels was disappearing. A more detailed interpretation presents several problems which are discussed in the paper. It seems almost certain that the stanzas were written down from oral tradition and that the text is incorrect at some points.

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Section
Linguistics