OE and Old North were very much alike. Englishmen and Scandinavians could understand each other without any translation. Culturally these two peoples were equal. Scandinavian borrowed words were rather numerous in OE. These words were basic every day. The scand. infl. can be seen in place names. All the English settlements whose names and in scand. morpheme [by] mean town, and [tafe] mean house and grounds.
Under the year 787 three shiploads of Northmen landed upon the coast of Britain and invaded the country. These invaders were Scandinavian tribes: The Danes, the Swedes. They inhabited the north of Europe (modern Denmark, Norway and Sweden). They started their invasion taking possession over the East of Britain and the Danish invasion resulted in the occupation of a great part of the territory by Scandinavian settlers. In the year 878 the English King Alfred the Great, by the Treaty of Wedmore was obliged to recognize Danish rule over a territory covering two-thirds of modern England; all Northumbria, all East Anglia and one half of Central England made up District called the Danelaw.
The effect of the Danish Conquest was a contribution of many Scan¬dinavian words to the English vocabulary.
The criterion of sound in many cases may be applied in distinguish¬ing Scandinavian words. Since in native English words the sk sound had regularly changed to sh and since the k sound before the vowels e and i had regularly changed to ch, the greater part of the Germanic words in English with the sk sound such as scare, skill, skin, skirt, sky and many words with the k sound before e and i, such as kettle, keg, kirk are to be assigned to Scandinavian origin.
In cases where the Scandinavian form of a word differed from the Eng¬lish form, sometimes both forms survived with a different meaning.
The Scandinavian influence was especially marked in place-names in Northern England, Among the more common ones are those ending in-by (0. N. byr, a dwelling, village); in -beck (has been used as an inde¬pendent word since 1300 especially in the North; 0. N. bekker, a brook, Ger. Bach); in-dale (O. N. Dalr, a valley, Ger. Thai); in thorp or-torp (0. N thorp, a hamlet, village); in -toft (O. N, toft a homestead, enclosure) and in -twaite (0. N. veiti, a clearing).
In some cases when the English word and the Scandinavian agreed in form, the Scandinavian form has imported a new meaning to the English. Thus dream in О. Е. meant toy, but in Middle English the modern meaning of dream was taken over from O.N. draumr. The same is true of bread (formerly meaning a fragment or bloom (O. E. bloma, mass of metal), plough (О. Е. ploh, a measure of land); holm (О. Е. holm, ocean).
A number of common words which existed in Old English have been assimilated to the kindred Scandinavian synonyms only in form (e. g. sister descends not from the Old English sweoster, but from the O. N. syster. The same is true of such everyday words as birth, get, give, etc.
Sometimes the Scandinavians gave a fresh lease of life to obsolescent or obsolete native words. The preposition till, for instance, is found only once or twice in Old English texts belonging to the pre-Scandinavian period, but after that time it begins to be exceedingly common in the North, from whence it spreads southward. The same is true of the words barn, blend and dale.
From no other foreign source has the English language derived words so elemental in character. Scandinavian elements combine with native elements in hybrid compounds such as awkward and greyhound. Since these Scandinavian words are, as has been mentioned already, so nearly related to the Anglo-Saxon, and since they were borrowed so early and have consequently undergone changes in form and in meaning along with the Anglo-Saxon element, one may almost reckon them as belonging to the native stock of English words. In later periods of English, history the con¬tact between English and Scandinavian-speaking peoples was never so close.