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Language

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Rowan
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Language

Post by Rowan » Sat September 20th, 2008, 2:26 pm

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I've been listening to The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwall lately and have noticed something interesting.

He indicates that three languages are spoken in the land that is Britain: Danish, English and the language of the Britons.

I had assumed that the Saxons were, in fact, Britons and that they would speak English, but apparently not.

Is the English spoken by the Saxons what would become the English of today or is it the language of the Britons?

I have a book from my college days called The Story of English which I will look through for the answer, but I would also like to hear what others say.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sat September 20th, 2008, 2:35 pm

I would say that English is Anglo Saxon - the language of Beowulf.
The Briton language would be what is today Welsh, or was Cornish - a Celtic language.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

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Post by Ash » Sat September 20th, 2008, 2:36 pm

[quote=""Rowan""]
Is the English spoken by the Saxons what would become the English of today or is it the language of the Britons?
[/quote]

Neither and both. Because of so many invasions (Saxons, Dutch via Vikings, Normans) and the influence of the Church's use of Latin (which was spoken by those who were literate), English became a conglomerate language. This is why spelling rules are such a mess, and why the words enough, though, and through do not rhyme...Simplified explanation but you get the idea.
Last edited by Ash on Sat September 20th, 2008, 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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donroc
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Post by donroc » Sat September 20th, 2008, 2:56 pm

English: a Germanic language (from the Saxons) with a Latin syntax (death to those who split infinitives), and words form the Celts, Danes, Norman French, and ....

FYI: According to the Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate, English has about 616,000 words, more than three times that of any other language.
Image

Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6 ... annel_page

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Alaric
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Post by Alaric » Sat September 20th, 2008, 3:01 pm

616,000 words, of which probably over half all mean the same thing.

It's a ridiculous language.

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Post by annis » Sat September 20th, 2008, 6:20 pm

But one which lends itself to so many possibilities and subtleties of nuance- as long as you can remember the word you want---
The Greeks had a word for it, but the English have three or four!
'The Story of English" is good. Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue" is also useful- informative and entertaining as well.
Last edited by annis on Sat September 20th, 2008, 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Sat September 20th, 2008, 8:27 pm

I've been reading the chapter in The Story of English called 'The Mother Tongue' and it's informative.

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Post by Ash » Sat September 20th, 2008, 10:28 pm

[quote=""Rowan""]I've been reading the chapter in The Story of English called 'The Mother Tongue' and it's informative.[/quote]


I was actually going to mention it, because I enjoyed it so much. But then I happened to see the first reviews on amazon were one stars, with lots and lots of folks agreeing. Reading them gave me pause; I wish I knew more about the subject to know how much their complaints of inaccuracies are true. May need a reread (I really did learn lots from it, so don't let those reviews stop you)

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun September 21st, 2008, 1:51 am

The Story of English is fascinating. I haven't actually read the book cover-to-cover, but I saw the TV series the book was based on, which was a lot of fun, because you could actually hear the accents and oddball leftover words in English that are artifacts of its early development.

The Celtic Britons spoke an early version of the language that eventually evolved into the similar, but not identical, languages of Welsh, Cornish and Breton. The Saxons and Danes spoke two different, but similar, Germanic languages that eventually merged into Old English.

Then the French-speaking Normans came along. You can still trace the fact that at one time aristocrats and legal professionals spoke Old French while the common people spoke Old English, because of the way words of French and Saxon/Danish origin differ in meaning. "Swine" and "cow" come from Old English words for the live animals kept by lower class folks, while "pork" and "beef" come from the Old French words for the cooked animals eaten by the upper class folks. Regular folks "get" stuff (Old English), while lawyers and snooty folks "receive" things (French).
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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun September 21st, 2008, 5:32 am

I was a weird kid, The Story of English was my favourite show when I was seven.

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