Bæjarnafnið Brúar, fleirtölumyndirnar brýr og brúr

  • Margrét Jónsdóttir Háskóli Íslands
íslensk málsaga, beygingarfræði, áhrifsbreytingar, örnefni

Útdráttur

The purpose of this paper is to clarify forms like the place name Brúar, our only living witness to the old plural of the word brú. Other plural formations, such as brúr and brýr are dealt with as well. Our sources for these forms are widely distributed in space and time, and though a diachronical aspect is never absent, the form in question is investigated from a synchronistic standpoint.

The main conclusions of this paper are as follows:

  1.  a. Even though the plural form brúar no longer functions as plural of the common noun
     
    brú, the form Brúar is quite natural in the function it serves. This can readily be

    explained
     in the light of the theory that if a form has received a new inflectional form, this new form takes on the word's primary function as default form for the common noun. The earlier form may survive exercising a secondary function. The place name, here the name of a farm, is a natural candidate for that function. Its function is marked, given that its scope of use is more narrowly circumscribed.

    b. In Icelandic, the dative may, inter alia, indicate movement or rest at a location. The

    form Brúum is an archaic-looking dat. pl. form of a radical noun ending in (-)V:#.

    Such a dat. form could never coexist in a paradigm of feminine nouns with a monosyllabic nom. pl. form. In the same way, a monosyllabic dat. form like brúm is almost exclusively confined to feminine nouns. All these particularities are discussed in the context of the assumption that the dative is, indeed, the unmarked case of nouns indicating place; and thus a case likely to preserve more archaical forms than other cases or the corresponding common nouns.

    c. The plural forms brúr and brýr both have formal parallels in the system of feminine

    noun declension.

The interrelations between these phenomena are dealt with in a further discussion of how word forms influence each other and the effect that grammatical function may have on the preservation of forms. The dative is our focus; precisely in the dative forms we may find answers to many of the questions that present themselves. Analogical change has its roots in a relation of structural parallelism, a presence of similarity. This is the guiding thought throughout the rest of this paper. Meaning and function are seen to be decisive. It matters, for instance, whether we are dealing with a place name or a common noun. This is addressed in the light of theories such as those put forward by Kuryłowicz, Mańczak, Tiersma and Croft. In this way, well-known theories of general linguistics find application in unravelling a phenomenon of Icelandic language history.

 

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