I believe the language of the people that settled in England to create the Danelaw was Old East Norse. Do we know if the Danelaw became a homogeneous Old East Norse speaking region, or did it become bilingual with enclaves of Old English speakers?

As some background, and to explain my reason for asking, the YouTube channel Cambrian Chronicles has made several videos suggesting that when the Anglo-Saxons invaded England the region under Anglo-Saxon control became bilingual with Old English as a high prestige language and Brythonic as the language of the masses. Much as happened with French and English when the Normans invaded. Then Old English gradually replaced Brythonic as people started adopting the high prestige language, but Brythonic speaking communities survived within the Anglo-Saxon region until at least the eighth century.

This made me curious to know if a similar process happened within the Danelaw, although in the Danelaw Old English presumably eventually replaced Old East Norse since that region was English speaking by the end of the first millennium.

  • 1
    A quick google turned up this useful article: What can linguistics tell us about the Vikings in England? May 22 at 5:34
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    @LarsBosteen Thanks :-) Having read the article I suspect the answer to my question is that no-one knows as there is too little written evidence. May 22 at 7:00
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    There's a pushback against the term "Dark Ages" in the historical community these days. However, if one mostly applies the term in relation to the amount of written records we have from a period, then if there were ever a time it applies properly, it is the "Early Middle Age" period from the fall of the Western RE to about 1000AD (getting "darker" the later you get). The history of the Danelaw is right in the darkest of this "dark" period.
    – T.E.D.
    May 22 at 13:01


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