English was spoken in pre-Roman times and does not descend from Anglo-Saxon

Jul 2011
579
western Europe
#1
The main content is based upon this website: How old is English?
However, I'd like to clarify some further points, before responding to any counter-arguments.


Anglo-Saxon (dubbed "Old English")
: :suspicious:

Fæder ūre, þū þe eart on heofonum;
Sīe þīn nama gehālgod,
tō becume þīn rīce,
gewurþe þīn willa,
on eorðan swā swā on heofonum.
Urne gedæghwamlican hlāf sele ūs tōdæg,
and forgif ūs ūre gyltas,
swā swā wē forgifaþ ūrum gyltendum,
and ne gelǣd þū ūs on costnunge,
ac ālȳs ūs of yfele, sōþlīce.

Middle English: :relieved:

Oure fadir þat art in heuenes
halwid be þi name;
þi reume or kyngdom come to be.
Be þi wille don
in herþe as it is doun in heuene.
yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.
And foryeue to us oure dettis þat is oure synnys
as we foryeuen to oure dettouris þat is to men þat han synned in us.
And lede us not into temptacion
but delyuere us from euyl.

As you can see, while both texts should be very similar, they are in fact very different. Eventhough they do share a few common traits, this is just because both are germanic languages -
if you look at the text in another germanic language (e.g. Dutch, Danish, Swedish...), you'll notice that they also share a few similarities with Middle English
all languages

Why such a huge gap between Old and Middle English?

The Norman influence accounted for lots of new vocabulary, as did the language of the Vikings, eventhough only 150 words had been introduced after the Viking period - it wasn't until the 12th century that writers began to include more words into the language.

However, if Modern English were a mix of A-S, Norman and Norse, then shouldn't the language sound more like a mix of French (Norman) and German/Scandinavian (A-S + viking)?

Why are some aspects so unique?
e.g. What is the origin of the English r sound (alveolar approximant), which is common to no other germanic language?

Every book about the history of the English language will mention a change from Old English to Middle English, but none of them will explain to you HOW such changes gradually occured.

For example, the author of this website reveals what he predicts English to resemble in the future - to illustrate, he elicits how the language evolves each step of the way,
e.g. Early American - 2100
- Assimilation In Syllable-Onset
:
Any syllable-onset t, d or s t with a following r undergoes assimilation (that is, features of one sound bleed over into the other); the results are the clusters tSr<o>, dZr, stSr<o>.
Futurese (JBR Precoglang)

The closest language to English is Frisian - both are grouped into an Anglo-Frisian sub-family of Germanic.
However, Old English (A-S) is wrongly included into this subset of languages.
The language of the Anglo-Saxons is both grammatically and orally very close to scandinavian languages and to german and bares no resemblence whatsoever, either to Modern English or to Frisian, eventhough A-S is considered as an Anglo-Frisian language to suit the official theory that posits that Modern English descends from the latter.

Why is the language of 1000 years ago so very different from today's?
French texts from the 10th century (and even before!) can still be partially understood by Modern French speakers.

The stipulation that Roman place-names are all exclusively of Celtic origin is also questionable:
e.g. lindum (Lincoln): simply derived from lind, which one can consider as the proto-english word for lime, refering to the meaning in other germanic languages; moreover, many place names in England refer to trees (e.g. Sevenoaks)
Roman place names

In this video the author talks about an area where the names of towns end in -ey, originally refering to islands; geographical studies have shown that a lake could well have existed long ago in the area. But the fact that a Roman road runs right across the lake suggests that the lake had dried up long before the Romans arrived and that a germanic language was once spoken in Britain long before.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwXOr47EJ1E"]proto-english theory[/ame]

the Upper Thames


for a deeper insight: How old is English?

alternatively, you can view discussions relevant to this topic in similar threads: Anglo-Saxon invasion, which language does Old English sound like most?
 
#2
The main content is based upon this website: How old is English?
However, I'd like to clarify some further points, before responding to any counter-arguments.


Anglo-Saxon (dubbed "Old English"): :suspicious:

Fæder ūre, þū þe eart on heofonum;
Sīe þīn nama gehālgod,
tō becume þīn rīce,
gewurþe þīn willa,
on eorðan swā swā on heofonum.
Urne gedæghwamlican hlāf sele ūs tōdæg,
and forgif ūs ūre gyltas,
swā swā wē forgifaþ ūrum gyltendum,
and ne gelǣd þū ūs on costnunge,
ac ālȳs ūs of yfele, sōþlīce.

Middle English: :relieved:

Oure fadir þat art in heuenes
halwid be þi name;
þi reume or kyngdom come to be.
Be þi wille don
in herþe as it is doun in heuene.
yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.
And foryeue to us oure dettis þat is oure synnys
as we foryeuen to oure dettouris þat is to men þat han synned in us.
And lede us not into temptacion
but delyuere us from euyl.

As you can see, while both texts should be very similar, they are in fact very different. Eventhough they do share a few common traits, this is just because both are germanic languages -
if you look at the text in another germanic language (e.g. Dutch, Danish, Swedish...), you'll notice that they also share a few similarities with Middle English
These examples might be specifically cherry-picked from certain dates far apart on the evolutionary scale to show the maximum possible difference. Compare a text from 1000 to one from 1100 to one from 1200 and 1300... so on and so on and you will note that there is a more fluid evolution, although it is indeed rapid (not surprising since English was reduced to the level it was).

Why such a huge gap between Old and Middle English?

The Norman influence accounted for lots of new vocabulary, as did the language of the Vikings, eventhough only 150 words had been introduced after the Viking period - it wasn't until the 12th century that writers began to include more words into the language.

However, if Modern English were a mix of A-S, Norman and Norse, then shouldn't the language sound more like a mix of French (Norman) and German/Scandinavian (A-S + viking)?

Why are some aspects so unique?
e.g. What is the origin of the English r sound (alveolar approximant), which is common to no other germanic language?
Plenty of Dialects of English have different r sounds, even lovely trilled ones.

I don't know what English being a "creole" has anything to do with how it's meant to sound. It was obviously mixed roughly a millenium ago, and has developed with no political connection to France for many centuries now... I am sure it can sound a bloody lot different than any language it's been isolated from for that time. Look at American and British English, they have only been seperated for a couple centuries!

But what DOES the author think English sounds like if not Germanic/French? I would say there is no real "sound" to English as there are so many dialects which are really different sounding. Sometimes hardly intelligible.

Every book about the history of the English language will mention a change from Old English to Middle English, but none of them will explain to you HOW such changes gradually occured.

For example, the author of this website reveals what he predicts English to resemble in the future - to illustrate, he elicits how the language evolves each step of the way,
e.g. Early American - 2100
- Assimilation In Syllable-Onset:
Any syllable-onset t, d or s t with a following r undergoes assimilation (that is, features of one sound bleed over into the other); the results are the clusters tSr<o>, dZr, stSr<o>.
Futurese (JBR Precoglang)
There have been language changes in every language - that is why there are so many languages today. If we could tell you why every single thing in a language is changed or adapted, it would be amazing. If you don't believe that languages just change, often for arbitrary reasons, then how are the indo-european languages so vastly varied?

And, some things have been explained quite well, at least, the processes, such as the lautverschiebungen in the Germanic and the vowel shift in English. Other things such as the falling out of use of the case system have been theorised about, and many people blame language contact with non native speakers who learnt the languages imperfectly, but used them for trade/every day living (such as in the Danelaw or French people after the Norman Conquest). It's not like people were keeping a record of everything that changed just so we future people could take note.

The closest language to English is Frisian - both are grouped into an Anglo-Frisian sub-family of Germanic.
However, Old English (A-S) is wrongly included into this subset of languages.
The language of the Anglo-Saxons is both grammatically and orally very close to scandinavian languages and to german and bares no resemblence whatsoever, either to Modern English or to Frisian, eventhough A-S is considered as an Anglo-Frisian language to suit the official theory that posits that Modern English descends from the latter.
Anglo-Frisian languages are West Germanic, and both English and Frisian (especially Frisian, as it has less influence from the French) resemble the other West Germanic languages, in some places to a striking degree. Old English actually does really resemble Old Frisian, and Old Frisian is actually even a little similar to modern English. Check some out:

TITUS Texts: Corpus of Old East Frisian Texts: Frame.

The reason they might have some similarities to Scandinavian languages could stem from the fact that they are both Germanic, and the fact that the Anglo-Frisian languages were in proximity to North Germanic languages on the continent. But, they still don't look very north Germanic, especially not gramatically, save for the fact that they (along with all the other Germanic languages) used a very thorough case system. I would say modern English has a more similar grammar to modern Scandinavian languages (Esp. in word order and the formation of the past tense) than it does to West Germanic languages, new and old.

Why is the language of 1000 years ago so very different from today's?
French texts from the 10th century (and even before!) can still be partially understood by Modern French speakers.
Well, maybe it is because the language was dominated for several centuries by non English speakers. For instance, how many people in France can understand Frankish, Gallic, or Occitan after this many years? Probably not very many, because of cultural/linguistic domination from a more powerful group (well, there are still people who speak Breton and Occitan in France, I'm not sure of the level of intelligibility between the old forms of these languages and the present forms there are though. Anyway, they are minority languages now for the reason I mentioned).

By the way, Old English texts from circa 1000 could be partially understood today as well, as long as the spelling was made into a more modern form (and even more so if the vowel shifts were taken into account), by an English speaker. At least that's my opinion.

The stipulation that Roman place-names are all exclusively of Celtic origin is also questionable:
e.g. lindum (Lincoln): simply derived from lind, which one can consider as the proto-english word for lime, refering to the meaning in other germanic languages; moreover, many place names in England refer to trees (e.g. Sevenoaks)
Roman place names

In this video the author talks about an area where the names of towns end in -ey, originally refering to islands; geographical studies have shown that a lake could well have existed long ago in the area. But the fact that a Roman road runs right across the lake suggests that the lake had dried up long before the Romans arrived and that a germanic language was once spoken in Britain long before.
proto-english theory

the Upper Thames
I can't comment on this other than pure speculation, as I don't know much about Toponymy. I wouldn't deny that there were Germanic troops in the Legions that were in Britain, so maybe that would be the source of the name. Could also be co-incidence.

I don't know if this theory is very sound. However, just because I don't agree with any of it at all doesn't mean there weren't some other Germanic speaking people living in Britain before the Anglo-Saxons/Romans. Anything is possible, I just don't think it's their language we are speaking (to be honest, it would be ridiculously related though, considering the time frame. If the Romans were there in 43AD, any time before this I don't think the Germanic languages had branched off to form any distinct groups, that is, East West and North, yet).
 
Jul 2011
579
western Europe
#3
These examples might be specifically cherry-picked from certain dates far apart on the evolutionary scale to show the maximum possible difference. Compare a text from 1000 to one from 1100 to one from 1200 and 1300... so on and so on and you will note that there is a more fluid evolution, although it is indeed rapid (not surprising since English was reduced to the level it was).
The first version was actually from the 11th century. Both texts are the Lord's prayer.

Plenty of Dialects of English have different r sounds, even lovely trilled ones.
You're the one cherrypicking here; the different varieties are all of the same alveolar approximant r, which is absent among other northern countries in Europe. The trilled r is upper-class and is almost non-existant.

I don't know what English being a "creole" has anything to do with how it's meant to sound. It was obviously mixed roughly a millenium ago, and has developed with no political connection to France for many centuries now... I am sure it can sound a bloody lot different than any language it's been isolated from for that time. Look at American and British English, they have only been seperated for a couple centuries!
The American accent developed from and can simply be considered as a broader, more open accent of the Irish accent.

But what DOES the author think English sounds like if not Germanic/French?
Do you assume that English partly sounds like both, let alone French, a Romance language?

I would say there is no real "sound" to English as there are so many dialects which are really different sounding. Sometimes hardly intelligible.
The difference in dialect sounds in English represent little when comparing English to a foreign language. A dialect of English still sounds English.

There have been language changes in every language - that is why there are so many languages today. If we could tell you why every single thing in a language is changed or adapted, it would be amazing. If you don't believe that languages just change, often for arbitrary reasons, then how are the indo-european languages so vastly varied?
The change from OE to ME would have been completed within a few decades - such a strong change in such a short amount of time!?

And, some things have been explained quite well, at least, the processes, such as the lautverschiebungen in the Germanic and the vowel shift in English. Other things such as the falling out of use of the case system have been theorised about, and many people blame language contact with non native speakers who learnt the languages imperfectly, but used them for trade/every day living (such as in the Danelaw or French people after the Norman Conquest). It's not like people were keeping a record of everything that changed just so we future people could take note.
The oral change from Middle English to Modern English is weaker than the oral change from OE to ME. One could argue that some changes from MidE to ModE are due to the elimination of the last A-S aspects...

Anglo-Frisian languages are West Germanic, and both English and Frisian (especially Frisian, as it has less influence from the French) resemble the other West Germanic languages, in some places to a striking degree. Old English actually does really resemble Old Frisian, and Old Frisian is actually even a little similar to modern English. Check some out:

TITUS Texts: Corpus of Old East Frisian Texts: Frame.
'Tradition has it that ‘English’ developed in England, from the language of the Angles and Saxons, about 1,500 years ago. Yet Dr. Forster argues that the Angles and the Saxons were both really Germanic peoples from the continent who began raiding Britannia ahead of the accepted historical schedule. They did not bring their language to England because an embryonic ‘English’, in his view, was already spoken there[...]'

'Germanic is usually assumed to have split into three branches: West Germanic, which includes German and Dutch; East Germanic, the language of the Goths and Vandals; and North Germanic, consisting of the Scandinavian languages. Dr. Forster's analysis shows English is not an off-shoot of West Germanic, as usually understood, but is a branch independent of the other three, implying a greater antiquity. Historians have traditionally assumed that ‘Celtic’ was spoken throughout Britain by the time the Romans arrived. But Dr. Forster estimates that Germanic split into its four branches some 2,000 to 6,000 years ago. If correct, this increases the likelihood that the ‘Celtic’ associated with Britain may have been misidentified and was instead the fourth branch of the Germanic language tree. As argued by Dr. Oppenheimer, the apparent absence of ‘Celtic’ place names in England (words for places are particularly durable) supports the theory. From one who is uncomfortable with the hackneyed Anglo-Saxon history of Britain, the continuity of a Germanic based language seems to make more sense.'English as a fourth Germanic group

The reason they might have some similarities to Scandinavian languages could stem from the fact...
I never implied this. Anglo-Saxon could be considered as a Scandinavian language, but nor English, nor Frisian.

Well, maybe it is because the language was dominated for several centuries by non English speakers. For instance, how many people in France can understand Frankish, Gallic, or Occitan after this many years? Probably not very many, because of cultural/linguistic domination from a more powerful group (well, there are still people who speak Breton and Occitan in France, I'm not sure of the level of intelligibility between the old forms of these languages and the present forms there are though. Anyway, they are minority languages now for the reason I mentioned).
I don't follow your point; none of these languages had a significant impact on the French language - the Franks introduced the nasal vowels, but that's all, gallic was spoken before the Latin takeover (from which modern French descends, just as was Occitan (not to be confused with the Modern Occitan French dialect). Old French is still partially intelligible with Modern French. As I have mentioned above, nor the Norman nor the norse language significantly modified the English language.

By the way, Old English texts from circa 1000 could be partially understood today as well, as long as the spelling was made into a more modern form (and even more so if the vowel shifts were taken into account), by an English speaker. At least that's my opinion.
As I have mentioned above, all germanic languages share similar traits to one another, as to any two languages of the same family (e.g. Slavic, Romace (e.g. Spanish & Italian), Celtic... So its not surprising that although they're very different, A-S and English share a few things in common. One must not confuse relatedness and close relatedness (within the same sub-family).

I can't comment on this other than pure speculation, as I don't know much about Toponymy. I wouldn't deny that there were Germanic troops in the Legions that were in Britain, so maybe that would be the source of the name. Could also be co-incidence.
Regards to the dozens of other place-names?

If the Romans were there in 43AD, any time before this I don't think the Germanic languages had branched off to form any distinct groups, that is, East West and North, yet).
This map shows the early divide of Germanic groups mentioned by the Romans, around the year 1.
primary Germanic groups
 

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
7,239
Southeast England
#4
The History of Britain Revealed by MJ Harper is a very interesting little book which argues that English is the language that has been spoken in this country since ancient times, and that it didn't develop from anglo saxon or anything like that. it is some years since I read the book so I can't remember exactly what Mr Harper's arguments are for this theory, I will have to read it again.
 
Jun 2011
1,439
#5
I saw the movie I, Claudius and they were all speaking English. Obviously for them to have learned English and mastered an English accent means that it had been around for a long time.

No, I'm just joking. I don't know very much about linguistics. However, I wouldn't think any language is create merely out of thin air, right? Meaning, I would think deeper roots than what is "known" to be the case.

Languages are the hodge-podge of other languages.

What is language? Is there any way of knowing what a language is before written records?
 
#6
The first version was actually from the 11th century. Both texts are the Lord's prayer.
13th century Middle English:

Forrþrihht anan se time comm
þatt ure Drihhtin wollde
ben borenn i þiss middellærd
forr all mannkinne nede
he chæs himm sone kinnessmenn
all swillke summ he wollde
& whær he wollde borenn ben
he chæs all att hiss wille.

Late 14th:

And it was don aftirward, and Jhesu made iorney by citees and castelis, prechinge and euangelysinge þe rewme of God, 2and twelue wiþ him; and summe wymmen þat weren heelid of wickide spiritis and syknessis, Marie, þat is clepid Mawdeleyn, of whom seuene deuelis wenten 3out, and Jone, þe wyf of Chuse, procuratour of Eroude, and Susanne, and manye oþere, whiche mynystriden to him of her riches

Looks to me like the earlier one is slightly more similar to "Old English" and the later one is slightly more similar to early modern English, but there isn't a huge jump. You should also note that there was also evolution in Old English, it wasn't the same language for 6 centuries.

Also, take note, even in Anglo-Saxon days, there were different dialects and different styles of writing in different parts of the country.

You're the one cherrypicking here; the different varieties are all of the same alveolar approximant r, which is absent among other northern countries in Europe. The trilled r is upper-class and is almost non-existant.
Actually, no I am not. I said there are different varieties of English which have different R sounds, and it is true. Unless Scottish English/Scots are considered upper class, then you are wrong. And so what if English does have an alveolar approximate, plenty of other Germanic languages (Dutch, German, and Faroese) do as well :)

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alveolar_approximant"]Alveolar approximant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]


The American accent developed from and can simply be considered as a broader, more open accent of the Irish accent.
Oh, so the American dialects are just Irish dialects (wrong)? Funny that they use different words, grammars, and pronunciations. Also funny that they developed to be very different within a short period of time :).

Do you assume that English partly sounds like both, let alone French, a Romance language?
I can't tell you, because there are so many foreign languages and so many dialects of English, so I assume they all sound somewhat different to different speakers. Shetlandic does have an Icelandic ring to it unsurprisingly, and RP has a little bit of a Hochdeutsch sound to me now and then. But, I don't know. Does French sound like Italian and German to you? Does Irish English sound like Estuary English? You can't really be trusted as you just say about all English dialects that "they sound English," which doesn't really make any sense.

The difference in dialect sounds in English represent little when comparing English to a foreign language. A dialect of English still sounds English.
Wrong. Most Americans can't even understand Scottish speakers with traditional accents/dialects. I can't understand people from the south of the USA, and no-one can understand Newfies. Different dialects have entirely different phonology and stresses in some cases LOL.
The change from OE to ME would have been completed within a few decades - such a strong change in such a short amount of time!?

The oral change from Middle English to Modern English is weaker than the oral change from OE to ME. One could argue that some changes from MidE to ModE are due to the elimination of the last A-S aspects...
In what respect is it weaker? You do realise that the vowel shift was pretty major, do you not? What do you mean by oral anyway, pronunciation?

'Tradition has it that ‘English’ developed in England, from the language of the Angles and Saxons, about 1,500 years ago. Yet Dr. Forster argues that the Angles and the Saxons were both really Germanic peoples from the continent who began raiding Britannia ahead of the accepted historical schedule. They did not bring their language to England because an embryonic ‘English’, in his view, was already spoken there[...]'
Yes, one guy refuting hundreds of linguists and historians. Okay, I believe you now. PS they called their own language Englisc, after the fact that the Angles spoke it. Why would people speaking "Englisc" or English call their own language English if they weren't related to the Angles or Saxons (to be fair, I have to wonder why we don't call it Saxon :p. The Celtic terms in Britain for English people are all related to the word Saxon I believe, though).

'Germanic is usually assumed to have split into three branches: West Germanic, which includes German and Dutch; East Germanic, the language of the Goths and Vandals; and North Germanic, consisting of the Scandinavian languages. Dr. Forster's analysis shows English is not an off-shoot of West Germanic, as usually understood, but is a branch independent of the other three, implying a greater antiquity.
How many proto-Germanic inscriptions have been found in Britain? How many runic inscriptions have been found dating to before the Anglo-Saxon conquest? Why is Anglo-Saxon futhorc used to write Frisian as well as English? Why do you later call Anglo-Saxon a Scandinavian language if it isn't part of the North Germanic Branch?

Historians have traditionally assumed that ‘Celtic’ was spoken throughout Britain by the time the Romans arrived. But Dr. Forster estimates that Germanic split into its four branches some 2,000 to 6,000 years ago.
Kook science. What does Celtic have to do with anything? Also, this is impossible. Indo-Europeans didn't even inhabit that part of Europe 6000 years ago LOL, at least according to the Kurgan hypothesis. At the earliest, proto-Germanic began to develop a few thousand years after that...

Proto-Indo-European language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If correct, this increases the likelihood that the ‘Celtic’ associated with Britain may have been misidentified and was instead the fourth branch of the Germanic language tree. As argued by Dr. Oppenheimer, the apparent absence of ‘Celtic’ place names in England (words for places are particularly durable) supports the theory. From one who is uncomfortable with the hackneyed Anglo-Saxon history of Britain, the continuity of a Germanic based language seems to make more sense.'English as a fourth Germanic group
Celtic languages not spoken in Britain? Now I know this guy is a nutter. There is absolutely no evidence to support that, in fact, Celtic languages are still spoken there today! Also, there are plenty of Celtic toponyms that I doubt are Germanic. But, I am sure there are all sorts of Celtic, Roman, Pre-Celtic, Germanic, whatever toponyms all over Britain. Celtic toponyms in England would probably be more heavily concentrated in the Western half of the country, in case you care to actually look into it. I don't really care as I'm sure I've read of a few before (I think Aber is one).

I never implied this. Anglo-Saxon could be considered as a Scandinavian language, but nor English, nor Frisian.
No, Anglo-Saxon is an Anglo-Frisian language, and it is obviously very similar to the Frisian languages and other west Germanic languages spoken on the continent. For example, look at how a verb is formed: the on/en ending is common in West Germanic. Also consider sentence structure, with verbs going to the ends of sentences. That is not found in Scandinavian languages. Anglo-Saxon was more related to present day West Germanic languages than modern English is!

PS you already said that Anglo-Saxon isn't Scandinavian, yet now you say it is. Make up your mind.

I don't follow your point; none of these languages had a significant impact on the French language - the Franks introduced the nasal vowels, but that's all, gallic was spoken before the Latin takeover (from which modern French descends, just as was Occitan (not to be confused with the Modern Occitan French dialect). Old French is still partially intelligible with Modern French. As I have mentioned above, nor the Norman nor the norse language significantly modified the English language.
Well besides the fact that considerable numbers of people spoke these languages (at least in the case of Gallic), and now they don't because they were exposed to considerable amounts of people with a different and dominant language, then I have no point to make. Anglo-Saxon as it was would obviously not be anything like English, because it was dominated by another language. We are even lucky we speak something resembling English today.

Also, I wonder, do you speak any other Germanic languages? Because I do, and I can at least say OHG was a lot different from MHG, often times not understandable, unless you have been taught a bit about them, and this Language has an entirely different history than English when it comes to being controlled by a foreign language (though there is considerable Romance influence).

Norman French has significantly altered English in mainstream opinion, just look at our vocabulary. Also, Norse affected our grammar and even pronouns (they, their, them)

As I have mentioned above, all germanic languages share similar traits to one another, as to any two languages of the same family (e.g. Slavic, Romace (e.g. Spanish & Italian), Celtic... So its not surprising that although they're very different, A-S and English share a few things in common. One must not confuse relatedness and close relatedness (within the same sub-family).
Anglo-Saxon is related to English because it was one of its earlier forms :). Anglo-Saxon is related to other West Germanic languages because of historical migration and the way populations moved around from their central ethno-linguistic genesis. I know they are related, but I don't get what you are trying to surprise me with here? That English and Anglo-Saxon are not different forms of the same language because they are similar? Okay.

Regards to the dozens of other place-names?
I don't know, why don't you go back in time and ask the people who named them. Like I said, I don't know much about toponymy, but I suppose a few handfuls of inexplicable names would probably crop up in a country with thousands of years of history involving several cultures.

This map shows the early divide of Germanic groups mentioned by the Romans, around the year 1.
primary Germanic groups
Wow, first of all, that map doesn't even support what you are trying to tell me (Germanic groups in England), secondly, I think there are various theories about when the various language groups did differentiate themselves, however, they were (at least partially) mutually intelligible for centuries after the year 1. I can't say when it is most commonly accepted that they did separate.

OH yeah btw, that map isn't a linguistic map :D It is tribal associations as defined by Tacitus (he isn't a Germanic person) I think. According to the actual Wikipedia page on Proto-Germanic, which I guess might contain that map (I didn't care to check) I also found this:

"Language Extinction: evolved into Proto-Norse, [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_language"]Gothic[/ame], [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Frankish_language"]Frankish[/ame] and [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingvaeonic"]Ingvaeonic[/ame] by the 4th century"

I don't know if I think that is evidently true, but I can offer it to you as someone's opinion just like you are offering me the opinion of this "scholar." It's really impossible to say for certain, but this guy sounds as though he is out to lunch.

Anyway, I am sure we could dig up about a hundred sources suggesting that English is based on Anglo-Saxon, and about 10 based on some kookery suggesting English was spoken not only in Britain in the year 2000 BCE, but also in Japan and on the Moon.
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
#7
"Wrong. Most Americans can't even understand Scottish speakers with traditional accents/dialects. I can't understand people from the south of the USA, and no-one can understand Newfies. Different dialects have entirely different phonology and stresses in some cases LOL.

Yes.


"Celtic languages not spoken in Britain? Now I know this guy is a nutter. There is absolutely no evidence to support that, in fact, Celtic languages are still spoken there today".

A nutter.
 

ib-issi

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,403
just sitting here
#8
Why exactly did we have this vowel change business , what happened which meant we cured the problem by changing vowels ???
 
#9
Why exactly did we have this vowel change business , what happened which meant we cured the problem by changing vowels ???
I don't think there is any single answer for why the Great Vowel Shift occured. In some areas of the UK, certain changes didn't even occur, especially in the North afaik, and along the same lines, not every word had its pronunciation altered. I believe one theory is massive re-urbanisation of the South East after the Plague by people not from the area, but your guess is as good as mine.

But I don't think it's really known... I'd give some credence to any credible sounding theory to be honest.

Why we have the pronoun "I", I will never understand :p (well there are some ideas about that too).
 
Jul 2011
579
western Europe
#10
13th century Middle English:

Forrþrihht anan se time comm
þatt ure Drihhtin wollde
ben borenn i þiss middellærd
forr all mannkinne nede
he chæs himm sone kinnessmenn
all swillke summ he wollde
& whær he wollde borenn ben
he chæs all att hiss wille.

Late 14th:

And it was don aftirward, and Jhesu made iorney by citees and castelis, prechinge and euangelysinge þe rewme of God, 2and twelue wiþ him; and summe wymmen þat weren heelid of wickide spiritis and syknessis, Marie, þat is clepid Mawdeleyn, of whom seuene deuelis wenten 3out, and Jone, þe wyf of Chuse, procuratour of Eroude, and Susanne, and manye oþere, whiche mynystriden to him of her riches

Looks to me like the earlier one is slightly more similar to "Old English" and the later one is slightly more similar to early modern English, but there isn't a huge jump.
Once again, the diferences between stages of Middle English cannot compare to the disparities btw Old English and Middle English, which remain unjustified.

You should also note that there was also evolution in Old English, it wasn't the same language for 6 centuries.
I'm aware of that, thanks. (partly due to Viking influence) This again represents little compared to the latter (OE to ME).

Also, take note, even in Anglo-Saxon days, there were different dialects and different styles of writing in different parts of the country.
This is also another matter of concern; most historians will agree that dialects don't develop that rapidly...
How old is English?

Actually, no I am not. I said there are different varieties of English which have different R sounds, and it is true. Unless Scottish English/Scots are considered upper class, then you are wrong. And so what if English does have an alveolar approximate, plenty of other Germanic languages (Dutch, German, and Faroese) do as well :)

Alveolar approximant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Scots accent is a particular one - one can suppose that the Angles and Vikings were numerous enough (compared to the local population) to alter the r sound permanently. Then again, the Scouse accent can be traced back to Weslh/Irish immigrants...
In Germany, the alveolar approximant is common to Westerwald and Siegerland... Wow!
It is also extremely rare In the Netherlands and is a new phenominon, undoubtedly of English influence.
alveolar approximant in Dutch

Oh, so the American dialects are just Irish dialects (wrong)? Funny that they use different words, grammars, and pronunciations. Also funny that they developed to be very different within a short period of time :).

Wrong. Most Americans can't even understand Scottish speakers with traditional accents/dialects. I can't understand people from the south of the USA, and no-one can understand Newfies. Different dialects have entirely different phonology and stresses in some cases LOL.
Just because navy blue us different from royal blue doesn't mean that blure doesn't exist.
Just because some English accents are somewhat different from other English accents doesn't mean that there aren't any English oral aspects generally speaking...

Does Irish English sound like Estuary English? You can't really be trusted as you just say about all English dialects that "they sound English," which doesn't really make any sense.
Obviously not - but then again, this could be explained by the strong Celtic influence in Ireland, whcih makes Irish English a kind of stand-off or ausbau of English.

In what respect is it weaker? You do realise that the vowel shift was pretty major, do you not? What do you mean by oral anyway, pronunciation?
Regards to the Middle English - Modern English transition yes, but for OE - ME obviously more than that - they're two different languages. Despite the vowel shift, you can't compare the degree of both:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1cBRDAX00Q"]‪Pater Noster in Old English-Middle English-Early Modern English‬‏ - YouTube[/ame]
One main reason that Middle English sounds somewhat different to Modern English is because of the trilled r, which alongside a few words constitutes a remant from "Old English".

Yes, one guy refuting hundreds of linguists and historians. Okay, I believe you now. PS they called their own language Englisc, after the fact that the Angles spoke it. Why would people speaking "Englisc" or English call their own language English if they weren't related to the Angles or Saxons (to be fair, I have to wonder why we don't call it Saxon :p. The Celtic terms in Britain for English people are all related to the word Saxon I believe, though).
And are the French related to the Franks? :lol:

How many proto-Germanic inscriptions have been found in Britain? How many runic inscriptions have been found dating to before the Anglo-Saxon conquest? Why is Anglo-Saxon futhorc used to write Frisian as well as English?
How many Celtic inscriptions do we have? Hardly any... British language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Why do you later call Anglo-Saxon a Scandinavian language if it isn't part of the North Germanic Branch?
Anglo-Saxon is considered an Anglo-Frisian language to suit the belief that Modern English is related to it... ;)

Kook science. What does Celtic have to do with anything? Also, this is impossible. Indo-Europeans didn't even inhabit that part of Europe 6000 years ago LOL, at least according to the Kurgan hypothesis. At the earliest, proto-Germanic began to develop a few thousand years after that...

Proto-Indo-European language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The evolution of Indo-European languages is an ongoing debate. But to be perfectly honest, whether English appeared as a distinct language 2000 or 6000 is of secondary importance to this debate; the first goal is the convince people that English is a native tongue which did not originate from Anglo-Saxon, and dates furtherback than the Dark Ages.

Celtic languages not spoken in Britain? Now I know this guy is a nutter. There is absolutely no evidence to support that, in fact, Celtic languages are still spoken there today! Also, there are plenty of Celtic toponyms that I doubt are Germanic. But, I am sure there are all sorts of Celtic, Roman, Pre-Celtic, Germanic, whatever toponyms all over Britain. Celtic toponyms in England would probably be more heavily concentrated in the Western half of the country, in case you care to actually look into it. I don't really care as I'm sure I've read of a few before (I think Aber is one).
Both men are smart enough to know about Welsh, Scots Gaelic and all the other Celtic tongues spoken throughout Britain. Both were in reality suggesting that English outweighed Brythonic.

Place-names on the Saxon shore
Vilandola, Lincoln
Thames & London

Roman place-names

No, Anglo-Saxon is an Anglo-Frisian language, and it is obviously very similar to the Frisian languages and other west Germanic languages spoken on the continent. For example, look at how a verb is formed: the on/en ending is common in West Germanic. Also consider sentence structure, with verbs going to the ends of sentences. That is not found in Scandinavian languages. Anglo-Saxon was more related to present day West Germanic languages than modern English is!
Sure it was; English, as a separate brach, isn't a west Germanic language, and the Anglo-Saxons were in fact a confederation of German (mainly Saxons) and Scandinavians (Angles), so in fact, it's a mix of Low-German (or west-german) and Scandinavian... not Anglo-Frisian.

PS you already said that Anglo-Saxon isn't Scandinavian, yet now you say it is. Make up your mind.
I never implied that A-S bared no Scandinavian traits.

Norman French has significantly altered English in mainstream opinion, just look at our vocabulary. Also, Norse affected our grammar and even pronouns (they, their, them)
What about the rest? Norman vocabulary only accounts for a modest amount of words.
And English is not a Scandinavian language!

Anglo-Saxon is related to English because it was one of its earlier forms :). Anglo-Saxon is related to other West Germanic languages because of historical migration and the way populations moved around from their central ethno-linguistic genesis. I know they are related, but I don't get what you are trying to surprise me with here? That English and Anglo-Saxon are not different forms of the same language because they are similar? Okay.
IN WHAT WAYS ARE THEY SIMILAR?

Wow, first of all, that map doesn't even support what you are trying to tell me (Germanic groups in England),
Given that the Romans had not yet set foot in Britain...

secondly, I think there are various theories about when the various language groups did differentiate themselves, however, they were (at least partially) mutually intelligible for centuries after the year 1. I can't say when it is most commonly accepted that they did separate.

OH yeah btw, that map isn't a linguistic map :D It is tribal associations as defined by Tacitus (he isn't a Germanic person) I think. According to the actual Wikipedia page on Proto-Germanic, which I guess might contain that map (I didn't care to check) I also found this:

"Language Extinction: evolved into Proto-Norse, Gothic, Frankish and Ingvaeonic by the 4th century"
This is worth considering:

'[...]a Germanic-type language could already have been indigenous to England at the time of the Roman invasion. In support of this inference, there is some recent lexical (vocabulary) evidence analysed by Cambridge geneticist Peter Forster and continental colleagues. They found that the date of the split between old English and continental Germanic languages goes much further back than the dark ages, and that English may have been a separate, fourth branch of the Germanic language before the Roman invasion.'
Myths of British ancestry | Prospect Magazine

I don't know if I think that is evidently true, but I can offer it to you as someone's opinion just like you are offering me the opinion of this "scholar." It's really impossible to say for certain, but this guy sounds as though he is out to lunch.

Anyway, I am sure we could dig up about a hundred sources suggesting that English is based on Anglo-Saxon, and about 10 based on some kookery suggesting English was spoken not only in Britain in the year 2000 BCE, but also in Japan and on the Moon.
IRRELEVANT
 
Last edited:

Similar History Discussions