Mitchif vs. French vs. English

Inge Genee inge.genee at ULETH.CA
Sun Mar 7 08:01:40 UTC 1999

> >>
> >>Anyway, the mixing of peoples and tongues is what brought about the Jargon
> >>(and its Michif "cousin") into being, so this to me is on-topic.  It's a
> >>pity that there weren't Gaelic and Erse words added to the Jargon's mix,
> >>considering the amount of Celt-native intermarriage in the early years......
> >
> >Really? That seems rather surprising, considering the prominent role that
> >Scots and Irish generally played in the expansion of the British Empire. I
> >seem to remember anecdotes about British traders assimilating fairly quickly
> >into the pre-existing societies of the Pacific Northwest.
> Yes, they did - but none of their ancestral languages did, apparently,
> although there was a time at the turn of the century when Vancouver must
> have been part Scots-speaking (what I mean is that Scots must have been
> spoken in a lot of bars and private saloons).  It's very true that the
> British traders (mostly Scots and Irish and some Welsh) assimilated well
> into local society for years before the railway, even moreso before the
> gold rush.

> All the main British figures in BC were by and large Scots or Irish (or
> Welsh) - even if they were American in character.  "Anglo-Saxon" is a term
> bandied about rather loosely to describe "British Canadian" culture, but in
> reality it was a Scots-dominated effort....
>....  The Gaelic presence in BC remains strong even today
> with a large expatriate population

I'm not sure about the details of who and when exactly immigrated into
the West from "Celtic" areas of the British Isles, but we must not forget
that they are unlikely to have all spoken a Celtic language: people from
the Scottish lowlands are likely to have spoken Lowland Scots rather than
Scottish Gaelic, and people from the eastern parts of Ireland presumably
often spoke English as their first language, not Irish. Before we are
surprised about a possible surprisingly small number of "Celtic" loans in
CJ, we need to have detailed information about which languages were
spoken exactly by the new arrivals.
Interestingly, although linguists now assume there must have been
widespread biligualism in Britain after the Anglo-Saxon invasions between
British Celtic and the new Anglo-Saxon tongue, very few confirmed Celtic
loans appear in English.

Inge Genee

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