Celtic influence in English

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Tue Feb 9 14:48:01 UTC 1999

In a message dated 2/7/99 12:42:48 PM, DLW wrote:

<< Thus it is entirely conceivable that Britons could have an "accent" in
(Old) English, and yet choose not to carry over any great number of British
words, essentially because of the status differential.>>

There are some questions on this whole issue that just seem to need to be

1. Do we have any evidence of how Briton spoke to Saxon in the days of Hengist
and Ambrosius?

In the tradition of the Empire, would Latin have been the buffer between the
two?    At this point, were the southeastern British speaking Keltic or Latin
in the marketplace as well as at court and in the monastery?  I believe it is
Bede, many centuries later, who calls Aurelius Ambrosius - the guy who invited
Hengist in - "the last of the Romans."  Were the British of the eastern half
of the island essentially Romans - just as the Gauls of France presumably

2. Were there many Keltic-speaking British left in the southeastern part of
the island after say 700?  Did the majority of the population just move west
or go to Brittany?  Charlesmagne is dealing with a rather powerful Brittany by
the year 800, and a rather large migration is a recorded fact.

3. Why is it that Old English is closer in sound to Frisian than to Saxon?  Is
it possible that the Frisian dialect was somehow an intermediary language
between British and Saxon?  After the fall of the Empire, the Lowlands would
have been the closest point of trade and contact with the Continent.  Is it
possible that southeastern Kelts were already speaking Frisian for purposes of
commerce and trade for two or three centuries before the Saxons came?

4.  It took the Holy Roman Empire close to 500 years to conquer and
Christianize the pagan, Slavic-speaking Wends of eastern Germany.  The records
show pretty clearly that these speakers were actively assimilated into German
speech by various measures, including laws that banned "Wendish" speech.
However the Sorbs of eastern Germany still speak their Slavic tongue today.
The Wends were Christianized after the invasions, somewhat like the Scots and
the Irish.  This meant that the native tongue was never really subordinated to
Latin before Germanic arrived.

The British on the other hand were Christian before the invasions. Is there
any possibility that this made Keltic the language of the old religion and
therefore already disfavored even among the British, even before the

5. Bede the Anglo-Saxon churchman, says that the reason the British fell was
God's Will: they had refused to try to convert the German-speaking invaders,
considering them not worthy of "Romanitas" (the religion equally the culture
at this point in time.)  Was it British refusal to "interspeak" with the
English that caused the apparent wall between the two languages?

6.  Finally, what the heck happened in French?  "Elite dominance" there got
you a Romance language.  What happened to both Gaulish and German?  The same
question might be asked about Norman-French.  Where is the Keltic in those

Steve Long

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