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Matters Arising (The History of Britain Revealed)
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Mick Harper
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- indeed, in the face of specific evidence such as the Peterborough Chronicle the author turns distinctly queasy.

That is not my recollection. I thought I seized on the Peterborough Chronicle with considerable glee. But it is true that if the orthodox explanation for the PC is correct then I am blown out of the water. Fortunately it is ludicrous.because it requires Anglo-Saxon to become English in about thirty years! That is in the period between the previous edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1090) and the Peterborough version (1120). My own explanation is that Anglo-Saxon scribes were no longer being trained after the Norman Conquest.

Some other reviews suggest that the book may be of interest in giving an alternative history or in encouraging students to question theories that become accepted in academic mainstream. I would dispute this

At least he acknowledges there are other views than his own that testify to the value of the book. This is both commendable and unusual. Most critics either ignore such people exist or declare them to be fruitcakes.

- of course academic theories must always be rigorously questioned,

It’s always fascinating to me how often this claim is made as if it is self-evident. Everyone here knows perfectly well that academia is structured so that theories are never rigorously questioned. Oh that they were!
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Mick Harper
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but the author's thesis that the traditional narrative is an unsupported invention is as much a fiction as his own alternative narrative.

As, I suppose, is this statement.

This book has nothing to teach anyone about the history of English except insofar as its theoretical flimsiness would tend to turn one to trust the traditional tentative narrative.

This is one of the most magnificently circular non-sequiturs I have come across in years. I shall have it transcribed into needlepoint and hung over my bed.

It might however be of interest to an alienist.

An alienist is a (weirdly) old fashioned term for a psychiatrist. My harshest critics have never accused me of actual clinical insanity since they recognise there’s a difference between a fruitcake and a nutcase. But as Frank Muir pointed out, everyone’s a fruit and nutcase.
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Mick Harper
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And still people are lining up to sing its praises

Superficially intriguing, but ultimately a silly, pompous, book. I hope it's an elaborate in-joke about how easy it is to write this kind of pseudo-academic "revisionist" drivel. If not, the straw man arguments Harper constructs are easily and comprehensively demolished by people who understand the linguistics or (pre)history at question.

Thank God there are none of them around.
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Mick Harper
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For some reason my Google Alert has just alerted me to a ten-year old discussion of THOBR. I cannot remember whether I followed it then but it sure does read excitingly today (in parts)

http://languagehat.com/crackpottery-and-credulity/

Forty-four comments in two weeks ... ah, them were the days.
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