Mysteries :  The Official forums
For serious discussion of the controversies, approaches and enigmas surrounding the origins and development of the human species and of human civilization. (NB: for more ‘out there’ posts we point you in the direction of the ‘Paranormal & Supernatural’ Message Board). 
Welcome! Log InRegister
M J Harper wrote:
> Dear Nonconformist:
> If your understanding of the orthodox view is correct (and
> since you claim some personal expertise in this area, I
> presume it must be) viz

I claimed some expertise in historical linguistics, not specifically expertise in the development of the English language during the time in question here. This is simply my understanding.

> My understanding of the orthodox view is that prolonged
> close contact between the West Germanic Anglo-Saxons in the
> south and the Scandinavians in the north led to the
> development of a Germanic lingua franca which after a few
> generations developed into a full blown Germanic based
> language, English.

> Then all I can say is that Orthodoxy is slightly pottier than
> I had previously given it credit for.

To be sure, and yet in this case, I find myself convinced that your claim is the more tenuous while orthodoxy has a better grasp of the facts.

> The orthooxy I had been attacking (as a "strawman") was that
> English is an evolved form of Anglo-Saxon. Since, as you say,
> "languages naturally change slowly over time" and getting
> from Anglo-Saxon to English in the time available is nigh on
> impossible, I am not surprised to hear that cutting edge
> research is now postulating the insertion of a pidgin
> because, as you say, pidgins by definition change quite
> rapidly.

And yet, the postulated pidgin consists of an Anglo-Saxon substrate which means it did, in fact, develop, or at least would have developed, if the postulation is correct, from Anglo-Saxon, or more precisely, a dialect of Anglo-Saxon not necessarily the same as the dialect that was used most commonly in writting.

> I apologise for attacking the previous i.e. strawman
> orthodoxy. I was relying on the standard text books taught at
> the present time to all relevant undergraduates (for
> instance, English Literature students). This is very remiss
> of me and I will be circulating your strictures to the many
> thousands of academic institutions still teaching these
> now-exploded notions.

No need. If the postulation is correct, then English did, in fact, develop from Anglo-Saxon, the information in the text books is simply too general to specify exactly how it developed from Anglo-Saxon to English. The idea that it developed from Anglo-Saxon to English in the same way that, say, Icelandic developed from Old Norse to Icelandic, instead of the way, say Haitian Creole French developed from French to Haitian Creole French, is merely a common misconception.

> However, I feel duty bound--since it is new to me--to
> explore the way this pidgin (or lingua franca as you somewhat
> confusingly call it, the two things being rather different).

Ok, so you won't be confused...

Lingua franca can be defined as any language that is used as a means of communication between speakers with different native languages. It may be an existing language such as French (from which the term was derived) or a hybrid of more than one language as in the case of a pidgin.

Pidgin usually refers to a very simplified language, or more precisely, a form of speech with a greatly reduced vocabulary, simplified grammar and modified sound system.

When the pidgin is learned by children as a first or native language, it's grammar is no longer simplified. It's grammar is as complex as the grammar of any other living language. In a collective sense, however, the grammar may not be fixed for some generations, but in the mind of the individual who speaks the langauge as a native, the grammar is completely developed and complex.

At that point, the pidgin is no longer properly called a pidgin, but a creole.


Commonly, however, creoles are often called pidgins, such as Neo-Solomonic, a creole language spoken in the Solomon Islands derived from English which is commonly called Solomons Pidgin or simply Pijin.

> Never mind, let's see how it arose. I think it is the
> orthodox view that everyone south of the Danelaw spoke
> Anglo-Saxon.

Or a dialect thereof.

> You say that these people felt a need to develop
> a lingua franca with the Danes then foming a ruling caste in
> the Danelaw.

I did not say that, I do not say that. I sense the beginnings of another strawman here. If you're going to say "you say" then I suggest you start quoting exactly what it was I DID say. I said nothing about the ruling classes. The orthodox view, again as I understand it, is that in the area between the predominantly Scandinavian common folk in the north and the predominantly Anglo-Saxon common folk in the south, there was a general mixing of populations. Their languages were similar enough to quickly communicate in a Germanic pidgin with a simplified grammar resulting from the dropping of almost all case and gender endings and the reliance on word order to distinguish parts of speech. When the children in that area learned the pidgin as their native language English, or more precisely, Middle English, was born.

That is the orthodox view as I understand it.

> Why would this pay the book tickets on
> the Stavanger you'd better tell us, you
> being an expert in this particular area.


> No better still,
> you'd better tell all the people writing in Anglo-Saxon right
> up till long after the end of the Danelaw. "Hey chaps, why
> are you still writing in Anglo-Saxon? We're all talking West
> Saxon-Danish pidgin out here."

Of course dialects of Anglo-Saxon were still spoken for generations, the new language, English, spread gradually from generation to generation northward and southward. Or so the theory goes as I understand it.

> It's a shame the scribes didn't listen because by another of
> those amazing flukes of unwritten history, this pidgin didn't
> get written down.

Pidgins rarely are at first, and most pidgins "die" shortly after they are born, long before they are ever learned by children as a native language.

Once learned as native languages by children, they are often mistaken for and mislabelled as dialects of a different language in the area.

> Nor, and this is even more unlucky, did
> anyone feel like mentioning this language. Imagine that,
> everybody's speaking a brand new lingua franca and nobody
> noticed!

Happens all the time. Ask anyone familiar with linguistics.

> [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Year 995 AD. New pidgin has
> reached Isle of Ely; memo to self: erase this entry next year.]
> Mick

This will probably be the last message in this particular thread that I respond to. The month is nearly over and You have not, in my opinion, made a case for your claim being more likely than the orthodox view. Furthermore, you have consistently used sarcasm and vulgar expressions in a manner worthy only of lawyers and politicians, not scientists or historians. I wish you and your theory all the best. In passing, I'd like to suggest that you spend some time in the study of historical linguistics.

As they say among the younger generation, Peace Out.


Options: ReplyQuote

Subject Views Written By Posted
AOM: Inertia 348 AOM-Presenter 25-Apr-03 13:28
Re: AOM: Inertia 237 Doug 25-Apr-03 16:56
Ignorance is Bliss 174 AOM-Presenter 25-Apr-03 17:54
Re: Ignorance is Bliss 193 Doug 25-Apr-03 19:52
Re: Ignorance is Bliss 217 hera 25-Apr-03 20:10
Off-hand Comment 237 AOM-Presenter 29-Apr-03 16:44
Re: Off-hand Comment 217 hera 29-Apr-03 17:35
Apologies 218 AOM-Presenter 29-Apr-03 19:26
Re: AOM: Inertia 198 M J Harper 25-Apr-03 18:38
Re: AOM: Inertia 235 nonconformist 26-Apr-03 20:05
Re: AOM: Inertia 151 M J Harper 29-Apr-03 17:42
Re: AOM: Inertia 192 DPCrisp 29-Apr-03 18:14
Re: AOM: Inertia 257 Dr. Sunil 29-Apr-03 18:29
Re: AOM: Inertia 200 jameske 29-Apr-03 18:51
Indus Valley Seals Deciphered 1285 Astikapati 29-Apr-03 21:44
Re: Indus Valley Seals Deciphered 351 Dr. Sunil 30-Apr-03 13:52
Re: AOM: Inertia 234 nonconformist 30-Apr-03 04:09
Re: AOM: Inertia 262 BrianAmbrose 30-Apr-03 10:46
Re: AOM: Inertia 204 Doug 30-Apr-03 13:15
Re: AOM: Inertia 302 M J Harper 30-Apr-03 15:40
Re: AOM: Inertia 174 Doug 30-Apr-03 17:22
Re: Stupidity vs Ignorance 198 Doug 25-Apr-03 21:20

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.