Carl Marstrander

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Carl Marstrander, c. 1933

Carl Johan Sverdrup Marstrander (26 November 1883 - 23 December 1965) was a Norwegian linguist, known for his work on the Irish language.[1] His works, largely written in Norwegian, on the Celtic and Norse components in Norwegian culture, are considered important for modern Norway.[2]


He was a student of Sophus Bugge and Alf Torp, and spent time in Ireland from 1907, studying modern Irish on Great Blasket Island with Tomás Ó Criomhthain,[3][4] and then teaching at the School of Irish Learning in 1910. He jointly edited Ériu volumes 5~6 (1911–12) with Kuno Meyer.[3] From 1913 to 1954 he was Professor in Celtic languages at the University of Oslo.[3][1] During the German occupation of Norway he was jailed several times, and once came close to execution after an arrest by the Gestapo.[3][5] He influenced later linguists, including Alf Sommerfelt and Carl H. J. Borgstrøm.[6]

Scholarly work[edit]

He was general editor from 1910–14 for the long-projected historical Dictionary of the Irish Language, the first fasciculus of which was published by the Royal Irish Academy in 1913.[3][7] His articles were of enduring influence, and published in Revue Celtique and Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, and his own journal, Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap which he founded in 1928.[3]

His Bidrag til det Norske Sprogs historie i Irland (1915) and Les présents indo-européens à nasale infixée en celtique (1924), are two of his larger works.[3]

He is also known for his writings on the history of the Isle of Man,[8] and for securing support and recognition for the Manx historian J. J. Kneen.[9] He made pioneering sound recordings of the Manx language, at a time when few fluent native speakers survived.[10][11]

He theorised a North Italian or Etruscan origin for the runes. This was, however, partly based on an artefact known now to have been faked.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Binchy (1966), pp. 237–8.
  4. ^ Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (2000), pp. 125.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Oskar Bandle, Kurt Braunmüller. The Nordic Languages: an international handbook of the history of the North Germanic languages (2002), p. 130.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  8. ^ Professor Marstrander's contribution to Manx History
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2008-10-29.