Linguists blew up in rage recently about the ridiculous conclusion reached by Norwegian linguist Jan Terje Faarlund: “English is a Scandinavian language.” His reasons for his claims: certain close similarities between the modern Scandinavian languages and Modern English, especially in syntax and a number of loanwords. The only way English and the Scandinavian languages could share such similarities, Faarlund claimed, was if the Old English language had actually died out after the Viking invasions and been replaced by the essentially Dano-Norse language of the settlers.
Mind you, Faarlund’s claim is not being reported in some reputable academic journal. It’s essentially a press release from the University of Oslo. It’s also completely bogus.
Since English and Norwegian are closely related genetically anyway (they have a common ancestor relatively recently), any structural similarities are hardly surprising. Nor do we need to discount some Scandinavian influence on syntax, morphology or the lexicon. But Faarlund hopelessly exaggerates the extent of those influences. Norse words are a small minority of the English lexicon. The essential base of English remains Anglo-Saxon. Norse had a limited impact on English, commensurate with the small size of the Viking population in Anglo-Saxon England (the Anglo-Saxon natives outnumbered the Viking rulers by an order of magnitude).
There are certainly legitimate arguments to be made about the exact history of the Germanic languages and the traditional models that group them cleanly into North-, West- and East Germanic are not entirely satisfactory. But this is not an improvement, because it’s not serious science.