The Advent of the English Language (Official Post 2)

Howdy! This is Tyler’s blog rising like a phoenix from the ashes of my last entry:

So this time on Tyler’s amazing saga in his preparations for studying abroad, Tyler is prepared to tell the story of Anglo-Saxon England and the development of the English language, all while stopping the use of third-person narrative…

Starting approximately in the 5th century (when the Romans withdrew from Britain) the Anglo-Saxons made their move. Some historians contend that some Anglo-Saxons were already in Britain, hired as mercenaries by the Romans and the Britons, and that these forces took over Britain before the mass migration of Germanic peoples to Britain’s shores. Other sources contend that the primary part of the Germanic colonization of Britain was the massive influx of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. While we don’t know the impact, if any, of preexisting groups of Anglo-Saxons in Britain, what we do know is that we don’t exactly know. That’s right, we know that we don’t entirely know what happened. After the Romans moved out of Britain, most of our contemporary accounts of that area dried up. What historians have available, though, are somewhat contemporaneous works like the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which may or may not be credible. But more importantly than the historical ramifications (depending on who you ask) of this period, the cultural ramifications literally affect us to this day.

Technically, English is a Germanic language. Surprise? Not exactly. We English speakers owe our, well, English-ness to those Germanic Anglo-Saxon barbarians who conquered England. The languages of the Britons pre-Anglo-Saxon invasion were related to the Celtic languages that developed into modern day Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Welsh, Manx, etc. The Germanic linguistic influences of the new owners of [part of] Britain (note: by this I mean only the region now known as England) basically laid the foundations of the English language. Later Invasions of England by Vikings further cemented the Germanic-ness of the language because, lo and behold, the Vikings spoke Germanic languages as well, further contributing to the development of a Germanic English language.

What really threw a wrench into this was the Norman invasion of 1066. William the Bastard (note: he was only known by that behind his back due to circumstances of his birth…), Duke of Normandy, claimed to have been promised the Kingdom of England on the deathbed of Edward the Confessor. It came as no surprise then that William was enraged when Harold, an Anglo-Saxon, became King of England. William was so enrage that he launched a successful invasion of England (after which William was known as William the Conqueror). With Normans now in control of England, French became the “official” language of England (it was really only used by the aristocracy and government). This is where that wrench comes in; the English language that was developing in England was a Germanic language while French, the language of the new conquerors, was a Romance language. From here on out English started becoming a mutt, because it was no longer Germanic in nature but rather Germanic with French influences. From this point until today English continued to develop into what we know and love today.

Just know that you can blame Duke William for us having (Anglo-Saxon) cows and (French) beef, (Anglo-Saxon) pigs and (French pork), and so on and so forth…

Tyler signing out.


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