>> believe that English is derived from Anglo-Saxon and that the
>> language changed drastically between 1100 AD and 1400 AD, but
>> they do so in spite of orthodox linguistic theory
>> which, more in line with what you maintain, claims that
>> languages don't change that drastically in such a short time.
> It sounds like you're not really arguing at all then. But
> what's their excuse? They must be wrestling with a
> faulty paradigm - that has already blinded them.
Yes, I'm not really arguing, or perhaps it would be more accruate to say that I'm agreeing more than I'm arguing. I'm more convinced that Mr. Harper is on the right track, I'm just unable at this point to accept all of this assertions, especially regarding linguistic change which is something I've invested a great deal of time into studying. The differences however might be due in part to a confusion of terms.
Before I heard about Mr. Harper's book and participated in this thread, I was as blind as anyone else to the contradiction here. Anglo-Saxon is drastically different from Middle English. The time span between the usage of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English is relatively short, shorter than the time that separates us from English speakers in 1630 when thousands migrated to America. It makes little sense that Anglo-Saxon would have been brought to England as a foreign language and then change so drastically in such a short period of time.
From an "exterminationist" point of view, assuming it was people speaking Anglo-Saxon, who virtually wiped out all the native inhabitants of the land, you wouldn't expect the Anglo-Saxon of 1100 AD (Middle English) to be much different from the Anglo-Saxon of Beowulf 300 or 400 years earlier. But it is strikingly different, so the "exterminationist" point of view has got to go.
From the orthodox linguistic point of view, assuming that a Celtic language was spoken prior to the arrival of the Anglo-Saxon warriors and these Celts weren't wiped out, you'd expect the people to speak a form of Celtic and nothing similar to Anglo-Saxon or English at all, but they speak English, so that idea is out.
From the orthodox historian's point of view, assuming that a Celtic language was spoken prior to the arrival of the Anglo-Saxon warriors but CONTRARY to orthodox linguistic theory they native Celts abandoned their language in favor of Anglo-Saxon, you would expect the English of 1100 AD to be a bastardized version of Anglo-Saxon with all sorts of Celtic loan words, but that doesn't describe English, so that theory has go to go.
So now what are we left with?
1. We know that the people spoke something similar to Modern English in 1100 AD. (not the same, but similar)
2. We know that these people were there hundreds of years earlier and weren't wiped out.
3. We know that they would have spoken a language very similar to what was spoken in 1100 AD just as we speak something very similar to what was spoken 400 years ago when the first English speakers emigrated from England to America, Africa, Australia, India and so forth.
4. Therefore, we know that the language they spoke at the time the Anglo-Saxons arrived was neither Celtic nor Anglo-Saxon because those languages are too dissimilar to the English of 1100 AD.
5. Therefore, it makes more sense that the people who spoke English around 1100 AD were descended from (or at least largely so) a people who settled in the area much earlier than arrival of the foreign Anglo-Saxon rulers, perhaps as long ago as the first arrival of the Celts along the coastal regions of the Atlantic and the arrival of the various Germanic tribes in the interior of the continent.
6. But we also know that English is an Indo-European language and more closely related to German than to any other Indo-European language, so.... provisionally,... I would say that the orthodox family tree of Indo-European languages must be revised so that the ancestors of English speakers are seen to have branched off from the Germanic languages much earlier than is commonly assumed.
Anatolian languages (including Hittite, etc.)
Albanians (derivation uncertain)
Armenians (who remained in or migrated to Armenia)
Greeks (who migrated to Macedonia)
Iranians (who remained in or migrated to Iran)
Indic people (who remained in or migrated to the
Tocharians (who remained in or migrated to Central
Itals (who migrated to the region around Italy,
Dalmatia, Sardenia, Sicily, etc.)
Celts (who, along with the Phoenicians, settled
primarily along the coasts of Western Europe
Balts (who settled in the region of the Baltic)
Slavs (who settled in the steppes of Eastern Europe)
Norse Vikings (who settled in Northern Europe)
Goths (east Germans, now extinct)
West Germans (who settled in central Western Europe)
Old English speakers (who settled in England)
Now, the above is basically the orthodox view except for the addition of Old English speakers as a separate branch from the West Germans. So rather than the three branches of Germanic languages, there evidently ought to be four or more (depending on where you put the Frisians.)
> > On the other hand, no linguist or historian (or at least no
> > respected ones I know of) claim that the various Romance
> > languages including French developed from Latin...
> > ...Latin generally not considered a Romance language.
> Then why is my dictionary chock full of etymologies citing
> Latin then French as precursors?
It would have been more accurate for them to have everywhere said "akin to" rather than "derived from" or if they said "derived from" then from Proto-Italic and not Latin.
> > ...it's learning it as a child when the change occurs
> That's funny, because my son has picked up the patter of his
> chosen peer group, but as a child spoke the way he was taught.
According to studies done on the subject, your native dialect is not set until you reach the age of 13 or so. Decades ago, before people did so much moving around, dialectologists could pinpoint the location where you grew up before the age of 13 depending on how you pronounced something like "Mary, merry, and marry." For example, you could have lived in Leeds almost all your life, but if you grew up in Reading, you would pronounce your words slightly differently from someone who actually grew up in Leeds. Such minute differences in dialect are not, however, germain to the subject at hand except to point out that language does change ever so slightly from one generation to the next.
> > As time goes on, their descendants will understand less
> > and less of it because their mommies were not your mommy
> > and their mommies never taught them a "dead" langauge.
> But how long will that take, bearing in mind that (as we have
> just seen) Chaucer is not that hard to read? (I find the fact
> that it is poetry to be the biggest hurdle, not the English
> he uses.)
What puzzles me is that my agreements are interpreted here as arguments against the premise. Is it possibly I'm not communicating in the same language here?