Styles of Communication, Vol 2, No 1 (2010)

Из истории слов в Скандинавии. Исследование по культуре протокниги/On the History of Words in Scandinavia: Researching the Culture of Proto-Books

Piotr P. Chruszczewski


By the year 800 A.D. Scandinavian speech communities were forming a new cultural and linguistic entity which had fossilized and considerably expanded by the end of the Viking Age. The conversion to Christianity was connected with abandoning the worship of pagan gods and the acquisition of new cultural values which at that time could not have been more foreign to the mainstream Vikings. Thanks to the runic notations one can trace the passage from paganism to Christianity. There were many attempts to define what the book is. In one of the attempts at such a definition it is claimed that it is the book which materializes in a graphic form the essence of culture in which the book is produced. Book production materials depend to a large extent on the historical and cultural circumstances of the epoch in which the book is produced. What is more, books are supposed to meet social expectations of their time, and fulfill a series of utilitarian functions. Runic inscriptions, functioning as indispensable tools of social communication fulfilled the information-warning function; they also served the function of intergenerational links which have the potential to last for a very long time in extremely adverse conditions. The paper argues in favor of understanding a certain number of runic inscriptions carved on stone as culture-dependent instances of Scandinavian proto-books, for they fulfill precisely the same functions as contemporary books.


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