Faroese place names in Danish 17th-century documents, 17 May 2019

Here is the abstract of the talk to be given by Miro Metsämuuronen at our Annual Meeting in 2019 (see the Events page for more details).

Faroese place names in Danish 17th-century documents

Miro Metsämuuronen, University of Helsinki

I will present some aspects of my dissertation project, the final goal of which is to provide a description of the phonological development of the Faroese language. Faroese itself is a North Germanic language spoken in the Danish self-governed territory of the Faroe Islands and it derives historically from Old West Scandinavian.

Throughout the 17th and 18th century, land taxation registers and accounts were issued by the Danish bailiff’s office in the Faroes as a part of collecting annual lease on the crown’s land on the islands. The Faroese place names written down in these extant documents (from 1584 onwards) make up our most extensive source material for studying the development of the Faroese language before the end of the 18th century.

I will speak about the special challenges related to working with these documents, show examples and discuss ways of interpreting the place name material distorted by Danish spelling. I will also demonstrate how a simple HTML-interface can be employed for annotating poorly-structured (documentary) data sets, allowing the busy philologist to better concentrate on his research. Once finished, my thesis will hopefully even include a digitally compiled lexicon over the Faroese language fragments attested in the various sources.