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

Mar 2015
1,394
Yorkshire
Language is not just a collection of words. Lexicology is a lot easier to acquire than grammar.

If we take Ireland as an example in 1800 vast tracks of the West were gaelic speakers only, with gaelic the majority language outside the Pale and northern Ireland. However there were numerous native Irish illiterates who were bilingual. By 1870, gaelic was minoriy language everywhere except the very remotest Western tip.

So despite negligible gaelic words crossing over into Irish English some distinctive grammar patterns survive in common speech which are rooted in gaelic constructions:

Eg You're after ruining me (Dublin)

You have just ruined me (standard English)

This construction is a mirror image of the use of "tar eis" - the after-perfect has no model in any other English variety (Filppla 2004:75)

eg I have it forgot (Wicklow).

I was knowing your face

Many other constructions - avoiding the Negative "No" , changing word order in direct and indirect questions.

Now the above can be dismissed as minor but just look how little a huge majority of gaelic speakers in contact with English\Scots for 800 adn 500 years respectively - virtually zero vocabulary by several subtle grammar changes.

The same is argued for British influence on English.
 
Likes: authun

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,173
The same is argued for British influence on English.
Yes, that is what the Celtic Englishes Project is all about, looking for celtic substrates in english dialects, here the south west.

"Want some grass cut up there?”
"We got to have a day off.”


The problem is proving that these features existed in the old english period. We see them in the middle english period but old english is dominated by texts written in the language of the elite. We don't have written examples of vernacular speech.
 
Jan 2014
2,514
Westmorland
What language did those sources named in the history, Hengist and Horsa in the south and Soemil in the north, use when talking to the Britons whom they, originally, served? At what point in time did women start to come over? I don't know if they are mentioned in the sources so how long were anglo saxon men interacting with british women?

We know that Ine's law refers to the king's welsh horse messenger so, there is an example of some britons being placed in a position of trust and according to the sources, the Deirans must have trusted the royal houses in Elmet and Gwynedd when Edwin and Herewic asked for protection from Aethelfrith. What language did they use? Presumably, this was the result of some careful diplomacy which had been conducted prior to their arrival. How long had they been in contact?
To which we might also ask how Penda communicated with his British allies when he divvied up the spoils from Oswiu?

I suppose the answer you'll get might be 'a cadre of translators'.
 
Nov 2008
1,349
England
To which we might also ask how Penda communicated with his British allies when he divvied up the spoils from Oswiu?

I suppose the answer you'll get might be 'a cadre of translators'.
Well, you have answered your own question really. However, in Penda`s case there is a slight possibility that he was bi-lingual or at least knew some Brittonic. Guthlac, for example, after campaigning for a few years on the Welsh march certainly recognised Brittonic when he heard it.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,173
Could you please provide some source for this?
Yes, I find it an odd speculation. The romans allowed the Salian Franks to settle within the Limes, around Toxandria in 358, even though they had been one of the worst groups for raiding. They were allowed to settle as foederati but, in the 5th cent. they overran most of Gaul. Zosimus Book III

"As soon as the Salii heard of the kindness of Caesar, some of them went with their king into the Roman territory, and others fled to the extremity of their country, but all humbly committed their lives and fortunes to Caesar's gracious protection. "


It depends which one of the several frankish groups Peter has in mind.
 
Jan 2014
2,514
Westmorland
Well, you have answered your own question really. However, in Penda`s case there is a slight possibility that he was bi-lingual or at least knew some Brittonic.
Doesn't the notion of a bilingual Anglo-Saxon king militate against the idea you advanced earlier that language contact between Briton and Anglo-Saxon was only of the lowest intensity?

As you know, I'm inclined to think that Penda's name is at least part British.
 
Nov 2008
1,349
England
Doesn't the notion of a bilingual Anglo-Saxon king militate against the idea you advanced earlier that language contact between Briton and Anglo-Saxon was only of the lowest intensity?

As you know, I'm inclined to think that Penda's name is at least part British.
You could have included the notion of a bi-lingual Welsh king. Anyway, the politics of princes and kings( diplomacy, treaties and such like) has nothing do with the theories of language contact which Richard Coates proposes. Indeed, it is really a fallacious and delusive argument.

As for Penda`s name, I`m inclined to believe it is Germanic in origin.