Renæssanceforum 5 • 2008

Luc de Grauwe
The Representation of the Scandinavian Languages by German, Flemish and Dutch Humanists (1555–1723)

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European humanists took a great interest, not only in the origins of their own mother tongues, but also in the classification of cognate languages. Amongst other things, this led scholars from the Continental West Germanic area (i.e. the territory of present-day German and Dutch-Flemish) to study the place and characteristics of the Scandinavian languages within the Germanic language family. The present article presents and discusses the views of C. Gessner, J.G. Becanus, B. Vulcanius, J.J. Scaliger, F. Junius, J. Vlitius and L. ten Kate with regard to this topic. Covering the period from 1555 to 1723, their work displays a gradual improvement in scientific quality and even prefigures many insights of modern linguistics. Not only did these scholars recognize the individuality of the different Scandinavian languages (with the exception of Faroese), they also referred to them as separate linguae, thus reflecting, or at least foreshadowing, the Nordic varieties’ own ongoing development into distinct standard languages.