What Made the Anglo-Saxons Capable of Conquering the Britons?

Jan 2014
2,399
Westmorland
#91
"How did the majoritarian Welsh adopt English in such a Germanic form without formal instruction, without a substantial immersion programme for all speakers, and without making it more like Welsh? These are the questions that need to be answered by those who propose a massive contribution of Britons to the “English” gene-pool.

On the other hand, absence of Britons is a sufficient condition for the absence of Brittonic-coloured English!"
He did indeed say that, but as I suspect you will know, linguists are generally far more ready to adhere to the old certainties of monolithic invasion than are historians or (especially) archaeologists. It's also worth pointing out that for all of this, Coates has spent a great deal of his professional life arguing that Brittonic place names are more common than we previously thought.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,039
#92
I found 30% with a spread from 20% to 40% depending on individual (which makes the English less Anglo-Saxon than Mexicans are Spanish):
One of the reasons why DNA is banned from these forums is that people pluck out a few lines from scientific publications without reading the paper in its entirity. This usually leads to lengthy technical explantions in an attempt to educate the poster and the post then becomes a sort of DNA primer. It bores everyone to tears. The passage you cite from Schiffels et al is based on comparing ancient DNA of just 10 ancient individuals, 2 males and 8 females from just three graveyeards. They also caveat the calculation with the following:

"One caveat of our analysis is that we are using the three Iron Age samples from Cambridgeshire as proxies for the indigenous British population."

Are they a good proxy or is it possible that the iron age population in Cambridgshire are influenced by Belgic celtic peoples who migrated here after 500BC? Are 10 samples enough? Is the population history of males and females the same or will they differ, british females marrying anglo saxon males for example?

The two males at Hinxton are dated before the roman invasion as is the female from Linton. The Oakington females date between 400AD to 570AD and may thus contain british females. The Hinxton females date between 630AD to 830AD. In my post, I was quoting Mark Thomas' reference to male specific DNA, not rare alleles found across the genome. Thus, it's hardly comparing like with like.

which makes the English less Anglo-Saxon than Mexicans are Spanish
Not a very useful remark as the pre roman britons and the anglo saxon are both indo europeans with a common heritage in the bronze age whereas the spanish and pre conquistador peoples of Mexico are very different with no known contact before the 16th century.
 
Likes: Isleifson

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,039
#93
It's between 10 and 40 %
Again, a figure needs an explanation. What are you looking at? An anglo saxon male marries a british female and they have a son and a daughter. Looking at the male line only the son is 100% anglo saxon. Looking at his entire genome, he is 50% anglo saxon and 50% british. His sister on the other hand is 100% british, based on the female line only but 50/50 when looking at the rest.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,039
#94
He did indeed say that, but as I suspect you will know, linguists are generally far more ready to adhere to the old certainties of monolithic invasion than are historians or (especially) archaeologists.
He said it because acculturalist models do not provide answers to the data that we see in linguistics. It's not a question of dogma. Why is the language change so devoid of brittonic influence?
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,685
Europe
#95
Again, a figure needs an explanation. What are you looking at? An anglo saxon male marries a british female and they have a son and a daughter. Looking at the male line only the son is 100% anglo saxon. Looking at his entire genome, he is 50% anglo saxon and 50% british. His sister on the other hand is 100% british, based on the female line only but 50/50 when looking at the rest.

The recent study, the largest of its kind, by the Welcome Trust/Oxford university. It shows (for England) 20 to 40% Anglo Saxon heritage. I think for the whole of the UK it is 10 to 40%.
There was a blog by the head of the study Professor Donnelly where he says one of the surprises of the results was a lower A-S heritage than expected. I don't think that Guardian blog is available anymore but he wrote this article in the Telegraph

The secret history of Britain is written in our genes
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,685
Europe
#96
DNA isn't completely banned. There was a topic about this in Feedback. As far as I could make out, we can discuss it but within reason. As long as we don't go over the top with it or use it to argue political points, modern politics or ethno nationalism
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,685
Europe
#97
... Why is the language change so devoid of brittonic influence?

Because Britons already partly understood A-S language, and over time completely adopted it?

I don't know much about this time period, I'm here to learn. Just throwing in some questions. Maybe daft questions but is there a reason Britons wouldn't know some of the A-S language already?
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,039
#98
The recent study, the largest of its kind, by the Welcome Trust/Oxford university. It shows (for England) 20 to 40% Anglo Saxon heritage. I think for the whole of the UK it is 10 to 40%.
There was a blog by the head of the study Professor Donnelly where he says one of the surprises of the results was a lower A-S heritage than expected. I don't think that Guardian blog is available anymore but he wrote this article in the Telegraph

The secret history of Britain is written in our genes

The PoBI looks at the whole genome of moden populations. An individual's autosomal DNA, that is roughly 98% of nuclear DNA takes on the 'look' of the local population over time. Your children will have 1/2 of yours, your grandchildren a quarter, your great granchildren will inherit only 1/8th and so on. After 20 generations, roughly 600 years, there will only be one millionth of your autosomal dna left. Except for your YDNA. That remains unchanged. It's a similar sitution for females and mtDNA. A son will get his mother's mtdna, but he can't pass it on. So, if you llok at the Y, he might be 100% anglo saxon. If you look at the mtDNA, he might be 100% british and if you look at the rest, ie most of it, he might look 50/50.

The 20%-40% you mention is consistent with the 54% I mention because mine is ydna only whereas yours is across the whole genome. Thus if 54% of the males were anglo saxons but they married predominantly british women, the resultant mix will be less than 54%, depending on the number of british women who did have children with AS males. Conversely, the number of anglo saxon female lineages, which is unknown, might be much smaller than the 54% male lineages, for example 30%. We don't know, which is why the suggested figurs always have these huge spreads, 10-40%, 20-40%, 50-100%. On their own, they are not very informative. They have to be put in the context of the paper.
 
Jan 2014
2,399
Westmorland
#99
He said it because acculturalist models do not provide answers to the data that we see in linguistics. It's not a question of dogma.
But equally, the displacement models do not sit well with the data from other disciplines and, perhaps more importantly, have no parallels elsewhere in the Roman west.

Why is the language change so devoid of brittonic influence?
I'm loathe to reopen an old debate, as I'm pretty sure we have discussed this a year or so ago. As Tristram put it, those (like Coates) who see the lack of Brittonic loan words in Old English as evidence of a lack of Britons in Anglo-Saxon England are “simply uninformed about the mechanisms of language shift" (Hildegard Tristram, ‘Why Don’t the English Speak Welsh?’ in ed. N. J. Higham, Britons in Anglo-Saxon England, (Woodbridge, 2007), 196-198).

As Brittonic was a low status language, Brittonic influence would be a substrate influence which does not take the form of loan words.

This brings us on to the 'Celtic Hypothesis'. For those who aren't familiar with the term, this is the notion that Brittonic and/or British Latin did indeed impact the development of Old English. I know you don't personally subscribe to that hypothesis and I think it is dificult for us to debate it in detail as neither of us are specialists in this field and we'd run the risk of just trading quotes, but it suffices to say that the hypothesis is academically respectable and has support both inside and outside the field of linguistics.

For anyone who is interested in exploring it further, the following publications may be of interest:-

1. ed. Markku Filppula et al, The Celtic Roots of English, Joensuu, 2002 (book comprising a number of peer reviewed articles)
2. English Language and Linguistics, Volume 13, Special issue 02, 2009 (special edition of a journal dealing solely with the Celtic Hypothesis)
3. Charles Thomas-Edwards, Wales and the Britons, Oxford, 2013 (notably the chapter on languages)
 
Likes: Sindane
Jan 2014
2,399
Westmorland
DNA isn't completely banned. There was a topic about this in Feedback. As far as I could make out, we can discuss it but within reason. As long as we don't go over the top with it or use it to argue political points, modern politics or ethno nationalism
The big issue with most studies is that they use modern DNA, not ancient DNA. The DNA evidence is sound enough on its own terms, but fitting that into a historical framework as a means of explaianing where it all came from is fraught with difficulty. The only sure-fire way of understanding the ethnic mix of Britain at the time of the fifth century migrations is to use fifth century DNA. As it gets cheaper to carry out DNA testing, this is happening more, but at the moment, our data is not sufficiently robust to draw any conclusions.