> > Are you saying then that the English language is actually
> > derived from the languages of these Celtic populations who,
> > at best, borrowed extensively from their Germanic rulers?
> No. Harper is saying that the english language WAS the the
> language of the "Celtic" populations. :-)
Whatever you call the language these people spoke 1500 years ago, it was not the English that you and I are speaking now. The English language that you and I are speaking now was derived from the language they spoke back then. The question is whether the language they spoke then was Celtic or Germanic.
Orthodoxy says Germanic, Mr. Harper evidently says Celtic.
> > I suppose it's possible. Has anyone done the necessary
> > linguistic research to refute the claim that the substrate of
> > English is Germanic?
> Harper does not question that the languages are related. He
> merely suggests that it more logical to conclude that, rather
> than English being Germanic, German is "Anglic."
Ok, let me see if I have this straight.
The word "English" is derived from "Angles" which is the region of Germany just south of today's Denmark. The Jutes lived just north of Angles and the Saxons just east of Angles. We can be reasonably certain that at some point, the Celts invited Germanic warriors to Britain to help them fight the Picts and Scots (no relation to modern Scots.) Let's say, 500 AD.
Ok, 500 AD, the languages of the Angles region are definitely Germanic (linguistically more closely related to Baltic and Slavic) and the languages of Britain are definitely Celtic (linguistically more closely related to Italic.) A group of warriors travels to Britain to help the Celts fight the Picts. In order for the Celts to communicate with the newcomers, either some of the Celts would have to learn a Germanic language, or some of the newcomers would have to learn a Celtic language because although Celtic and Germanic languages are related at this point (both are Indo-European) they have been separated long enough to be mutually unintelligible.
Scenario 1: The Germanic newcomers help defeat the Picts and remain in Britain as part of their ruling class. They speak a Germanic language among themselves, "Angles," but the population at large speak whatever Celtic language they were speaking before. The children of the newcomers learn to speak a form of Celtic as their native language but with extensive borrowings from the Germanic language in vocabulary, phonology and syntax (which is quite rare, by the way. Native speakers tend to borrow vocabulary only and sometimes phonology from other languages, but rarely syntax.) Similarly, the children of the native Celts learn to speak this Anglicized Celtic language.
Now, although the native Celtic language has been Anglicized or Germanicized, in order to maintain that what happened in Britain followed the "norm," (Model 2), the Celtic language of the population, though Anglicized to an extent, must have more in common with the other Celtic languages in the region, Old Irish, Old Welsh and Old Breton, than it has in common with the Germanic languages on the mainland, Old High German, Old Franconian and Old Frisian.
If the substrate of this Celtic language from which English was supposedly derived actually had more in common with Old Frisian and Old High German, then you'd have to admit that what happened in Britain was not the norm and that the Celtic population actually adopted more of the language of the Germanic invaders.
So everything depends upon whether Old English has more in common with Old Irish, Old Welsh and Old Breton than with Old Frisian, Old Franconian and Old High German.
Orthodoxy claims that Old English has more in common with Old Frisian than with Old High German, and more in common with Old High German than with Old Franconian, and more in common with these three languages than with any of the Old Celtic languages of Britain and the continent.
This clearly indicates that what happened in Britain was NOT the norm (Model 2.)
Orthodoxy claims that what happened in Britain was as follows.
Scenario 2: The Germanic newcomers help defeat the Picts and remain in Britain as part of their rulling class. They speak a Germanic language among themselves, "Angles," but the population at large speaks whatever Celtic languages they were speaking before. However, the children of the native Celts learn to speak the Germanic language of the invaders and eventually the whole region is speaking this Germanic language.
Clearly, there is something wrong with the orthodox view, but the fact remains (unless our linguistic evidence is in error) that in the centuries that followed the invasion, the population ended up speaking a language more closely related to the Germanic languages of the mainland to any of the Celtic languages in the region.
> > If the norm is model 2, but model 1 has clearly occured
> > before (North America being the most recent example) then
> > isn't it possible too that Model 1 occurred in Britain during
> > the first millennium AD
> Sure it's possible. But what Orthodoxy is arguing for is a
> low-probability event. This makes it a proverbial
> "extraordinary claim" for which "extraordinary evidence" in
> Unfortunately, there's actually no evidence for the orthodox
There is a great deal of linguistic evidence that must first be refuted. You must demonstrate first that Old English has more in common with Old Irish, Old Welsh and Old Breton than it has in common with Old Frisian, Old High German and Old Franconian. If you can demonstrate that Old English was a Celtic language and not a Germanic language, then you've proven your case. But if this can't be demonstrated, we still have a problem with the orthodox view.
> > The fact that such atrocities actually occurred in relatively
> > modern times and the vast majority of English speakers less
> > than 100 years later are completely oblivious to it leaves
> > plenty of room for similar incidents occurring in the more
> > distant path between Germanic invaders and Celtic natives and
> > the subsequent amnesia and creation of a myth to explain how
> > the language of the Anglo-Saxons came to be dominant in
> > Britain.
> Fne. But all you have here is a case that language
> replacement is plausable. It will always remain
> improbable due to its demonstrably exceptional nature.
> As we are obliged to accept the simplest (most probable)
> explanation that fits the facts, until convincing evidence of
> the sort associated with the "ethnic cleansing" scenario you
> describe is presented, it is more rational to assume that
> there was nothing exceptional about the Anglo-Saxon
> experience in England -- and that the English language on the
> Island predates the Anglo-Saxon invasion.
Then demonstrate, if you will, how Old English has more in common with Old Irish, Old Welsh and Old Breton than it has with Old Frisian, Old High German and Old Franconian.
If the Old English spoken by the post Anglo-Saxon invasion population has more in common with Old Irish or Old Welsh than with Old Frisian, then you are right and present day English was derived from a pre-Anglo-Saxon invasion Celtic language, but if it has more in common with Old Frisian or Old High German or even Old Norse, then we must accept, no matter how low the probability, that something extraordinary did happen in First millinnium AD Britain more like what happened in North America with the native populations than what happened in the Indian sub-continent.
Scenario 3: The Germanic newcomers help defeat the Picts. After their victory over the Picts, the Celts and Angles don't get along. The Germans decide to stay and invite other Germans over to settle. There are disputes between the Angles and Celts and the Celts eventually find themselves driven out of the land they used to occupy.
Then, wishing to be politically correct or wishing not to anger Celts with the truth that their land was taken away from them by Germanic invaders, the English historians spin a mythological history in which Celts and the Germanic English live happily together.