Magic language: The transmission of an idea over geographical distance and linguistic barriers

Arne Kruse, Liv Helene Willumsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article demonstrates how traces of language in historical sources relates to ideas transferred across linguistic and national borders. Sources for this study are court hearings from the intense persecutions of witches that took place in Scotland and in Finnmark in northern Norway in the 1590s and 1620s respectively. It is argued that the Scotsman John Cunningham, who became District Governor in Finnmark in 1619, brought the new doctrine of demonology with him from Scotland and applied it locally. Concepts in cognitive linguistics are instrumental in showing that certain demonological notions are present in the court hearings from both Scotland and Finnmark. In Finnmark, formulas and phrases point to one particular individual's background in Scotland, where he will have learnt how witches should be dealt with in accordance with the doctrine of demonology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalMagic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • witchcraft
  • sorcery
  • magic
  • early modern demonology
  • cognitive lingustics
  • Finnmark
  • Norway
  • Scotland
  • Vardø
  • Sami
  • John Cunningham
  • admiral
  • ballvollen


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