My studies so far on the percentages of Old English words found in metal lyrics have focused on native speakers of English. This post will compare the usages for non-native speakers of English. My first goal was to consider native speakers of Germanic languages; that is, any language descended from the north (Scandinavian) and west branches of Proto-Germanic (the east branch, Gothic, is extinct). This study includes German, Dutch, Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Faroese, and Frisian.
As a basis for comparison, I am also including a small analysis of songs written in English by native speakers of non-Germanic languages—Romance languages and Asian languages—which have varying degrees of dissimilarity with Nordic languages. This is where the unevenness of my research is most evident. It is difficult to find metal bands with non-native speakers who write in English. It is even more difficult to find full lyrics from websites that won’t give me computer viruses. I’m not entirely sure if the songwriters for all of these bands are not native speakers of English, but I did the best that I could with the data at hand.
|Raise the Dead, Bathory||Sweden||71%|
|Lionheart, Blind Guardian||Germany||72%|
|Procreation (of the Wicked), Celtic Frost||Switzerland||77%|
|Eerily Howling Winds, Ancient||Norway||79%|
|Triumphant Gleam, Darkthrone||Norway||79%|
|Crystal Light, Yyrkoon||France||67%|
|Blast Off, Angelus Apatrid||Spain||81%|
|Legions of the Rising Sun, Nightmare||France||95%|
|Dozing Green, Dir en grey||Japan||74%|
|I.V., X Japan||Japan||88%|
This brings us to the following totals:
- Germanic: 80%
- Romance: 81%
- Asian: 81%
- Native Metal: 81%
- Native Entirely Unlike Metal: 89%
I initially predicted that speakers of Nordic languages, especially Germanic languages, would be likely to use words of OE origin because the languages share common roots and are more likely than non-Nordic languages to have cognates or linguistically similar words (remember, English is a Germanic language). I also predicted that speakers of Romance languages would be more likely to use words of OE origin than speakers of Asian languages because of the proximity—French has had more exchange with English over the centuries than Japanese and shares a common Indo-European root.
None of this is the case. The data only shows 1% difference between native and non-native speakers. In fact, the songs above have some of the lowest percentages of OE words, though the categories average to about the same percentage as native speakers. The same information I gave before on creative songs using less OE words applies here. This data shows the skills of these songwriters. Though their skill with the English language ranges from fluent to barely competent, all show careful consideration of the words that they have used.