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Matters Arising (The History of Britain Revealed)
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Duncan


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You can probably gather that I'm impressed by THOBR's various theses and have spent a fair bit of time recently looking at various aspects of it in the light of what I have taken for granted before.

Not being a linguist it's taken me a little longer to get some feedback from my colleagues working in this area but this is what they've come up with. For THOBR's view that Old English is Anglo-Saxon I cannot disagree. I can't understand a bloody word of it. The book also states that Middle English is just Modern English with a few different spellings. If this is the case the following passage should be easily translateable. So here she goes:

In þat lond ben trees þat beren wolle, as þogh it were of scheep; whereof men maken clothes, and all þing þat may ben made of wolle. In þat contree ben many ipotaynes, þat dwellen som tyme in the water, and somtyme on the lond: and þei ben half man and half hors, as I haue seyd before; and þei eten men, whan þei may take hem. And þere ben ryueres and watres þat ben fulle byttere, þree sithes more þan is the water of the see. In þat contree ben many griffounes, more plentee þan in ony other contree. Sum men seyn þat þei han the body vpward as an egle, and benethe as a lyoun: and treuly þei seyn soth þat þei ben of þat schapp. But o griffoun hath the body more gret, and is more strong, þanne eight lyouns, of suche lyouns as ben o this half; and more gret and strongere þan an hundred egles, suche as we han amonges vs. For o griffoun þere wil bere fleynge to his nest a gret hors, 3if he may fynde him at the poynt, or two oxen 3oked togidere, as þei gon at the plowgh.
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Mick Harper
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Dunc, you should be putting in some preparatory work. Just by tranposing th for each þ goes a long way. I'll start you off.

In þat lond ben trees þat beren wolle, as þogh it were of scheep
gives us
In that lond ben trees that beren wolle, as thogh it were of scheep
which is instantly recognisable as
In that land was trees that bore wool, as though it were of sheep

We have found that the one thing that has changed over six, seven, eight (? where is this from) centuries the past participle of verbs is the thing that changes most. Though it has to remembered that this is verse and even today poets writing in English like to use antique forms for this.

If somebody said to you in a rustic accent, "In that land been trees that bearen wool as though it were of sheep." you might think he was from Middle England but you wouldn't think he was speaking Middle English (ie halfway to Anglo-Saxon). Please note, no "translation" has been done here, only recognition. So, as a test, why don't you see how you get on with the next sentence.
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Duncan


In: Yorkshire
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Ok, play time. We have:

In þat contree ben many ipotaynes, þat dwellen som tyme in the water, and somtyme on the lond: and þei ben half man and half hors, as I haue seyd before; and þei eten men, whan þei may take hem.

This is a beast by the way; but Middle English 101 is underway...

In that country been many ipotaynes, that dwell some time in the water, and sometime on the land: and they been half man and half horse (do we suspect psilocybin mushrooms?), as I have said before; and they eaten men, when they may take them.

This is just like listening to the crowd when I watch Leeds Rhinos at Headingley. Then again, as I say to my sons:

In that country (west of the Danelaw) were many ipotaynes, that spent some time in the water, and some on the land: and they were half man and half horse, as I have said before; and they eat men when they get the chance. So son, if they offer to buy you a drink, just say no.

I'll go with the dialect but plenty of Germanic sounding verb endings. Apparently nouns changed their form too, for example, the Germanic plural of man is men, which we have retained but the plural of shoe, which was shoen, has been replaced by the French plural 's' so we have shoes.

Seems straightforward enough but it still takes a while. Obviously if there was a big change then most of it had happened by the time this particular piece was written. Any further thoughts on the Celts and Spain?
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Mick Harper
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plenty of Germanic sounding verb endings. Apparently nouns changed their form too, for example, the Germanic plural of man is men, which we have retained but the plural of shoe, which was shoen, has been replaced by the French plural 's' so we have shoes
.
Well, Dunc, you have two choices: either
1. German and French come from English so you would expect lots of overlap between French/German forms and English forms and, moreover, you would expect more of them in the English of seven hundred years than today or
2. Quite bafflingly, the Anglo-Saxons have got rid of virtually every one of their German forms except for a few verb endings and, even more bafflingly, decided this new 's' plural brought over by the Normans is such a good idea that all nouns shall henceforth adopt it. Except a few which will keep the old plural just to make sure maximum confusion reigns.
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Ishmael


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Duncan wrote:
In that country been many ipotaynes, that dwell some time in the water, and sometime on the land: and they been half man and half horse (do we suspect psilocybin mushrooms?), as I have said before; and they eaten men, when they may take them.


By the way, "ipotaynes" is just this poet's attempt to spell out, phonetically, a word very much like the one we now know as Hippopotamus. Apparently pronounced something like (just educated guess work of course) "H'ip-pot-Hy-en-as". A Hippot-Hyena.

I believe Hippo is Greek for Horse. Hyena is the greek word for Pig. That suggests our poet is describing a creature that, rather than being half horse and half man is half horse and half pig.

That's why he writes, "as I have said before", immediately after informing us for the first time that the creature is half horse and half pig. Indeed, he told us that before when he told us the creature's name.

In that country there are many horse-pigs, that dwell some time in the water, and sometime on the land: and they are half pig and half horse, as I have said before;
Why the mix-up in the words? Somewhere along the way, some scribe has made an error.

But what's an Englishman doing speaking Greek? Or were the Greeks speaking English? And what's he doing describing an amphibious horse-pig that behaves very much like a real 'ippo?
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Mick Harper
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They also speak English, as you say. So how can this be? Well, the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria stretched all the way up to Edinburgh, bordered to the west by the British kingdom of Strathclyde and to the north by the Picts. Anglian aggression northwards was dealt a serious blow with the death of their King, Egfrith (great name for a son?), in 685 at Nechtanesmere. This was north of the Forth in Pictish territory. The defeat was decisive, perhaps in the way that Hastings and Bannockburn were. When Kenneth McAlpine unified 'Scotland' in 843, he was able to do so whilst annexing the Anglian kingdom of Lothian. This was much later however, time for any possible policy of apartheid to be used as successfully there as it was elsewhere. Athelstan took it back in 934, however, and it remained contended land for many years (remember, Hadrian's Wall was far to the south of the present border on the east side). Result? A possible case for Anglian dominance, as in Southern England, over a Celtic speaking underclass.

I am quite prepared to accept that English-speaking might have come about in this manner where there is Anglian dominance and a Celtic underclass. It would be highly unusual but...possible. Now tell us (or quote orthodoxy telling us) how these Anglians living in the far south-eastern quadrant managed to persuade the rest of Scotland to start speaking English. As you so have persuasively pointed out, the Anglians were given a drubbing every time they stepped outside their south-eastern quadrant.

Interesting point. There are Celts in what is called Galicia in northern Spain (they even have a football team called Celta Vigo)

There are football teams in Scotland called (Glasgow) Celtic and (Edinburgh) Hibernians but this does not denote any kind of Gaelism. Both clubs wished to convey that they were for Irish Catholic immigrants as oppposed to native Protestant Scots and found it convenient to appeal to a (even then) mythic past. The Galicians likewise are at pains to advertise their non-Castillian roots by appealing to a mythical Celtic past. I do not of course deny that western Ireland certainly and western Spain probably had Celtic-speaking populations.

and the Basques and Celts have been shown to be genetically virtually identical.

This is overstating the case. There are "claimed affinities". Personally I am perfectly happy to lob the Basques in with the Celts since they all occupy the same niche -- the western littoral of Europe.

Yet, there are two problems here. Firstly, if the Brits arrived in Spain why don't they still speak English, unless it was Celtic they spoke?

I have always assumed that the Celtic western littoral of Europe -- in Scotland, in England, in Wales, in Ireland, in France and in Spain -- form an entity. They can come and go as they wish for all I care. None of it has much to do with the "metropolitan" languages that were on their landward side ie English, French, Occitan, Spanish and Portuguese.

Then there is the difference between Basque and Celtic languages. Genetically they may be similar but linguistically they're not.

From an AE perspective this should be treated with caution. Millions of people are bilingual in Celtic/Metropolitan languages and in Basque/Metropolitan languages so their relatedness is intensively studied. Almost nobody is bilingual in Celtic/Basque. Also, both minorities like to think of themselves as "embattled", "unique", "mysterious" etc so there may be a reluctance to explore their relatedness. However I firmly predict that this will undergo profound revision in the near future.

But even if not, if Basque and Celt turn out to be entirely unrelated languages, it is quite feasible to posit genetic linkage since both groups were (apparently) living in the same niche, doing the same sort of things and (presumably) jointly holding themselves aloof from the surrounding metropolitan populations. At it like knives I expect. They were after all, both worried about their numbers.

As it's Celtic that is spoken in Britain I think we've got to go with idea of Celtic rather than English speakers moving along the western seaboard. This definitely creates problems for THOBR though, because it implies that whichever way the populations moved it was Celtic that was spoken by the earlier immigrants. We're back to the old problem of majority Celtic genes, majority English language.

You keep making this (to me, baffling) point. It cannot be argued that there is a Celtic population along pretty much the whole of Western Europe. They can come and go to their hearts' content. THOBR says that in the rest of Europe ie anywhere away from the western coastal strip, there are completely different people speaking quite different languages.

As for genetic mixing, the following should be born in mind
1. In our present state of knowledge we may be able to identify Celtic and Basque genetic tendencies but we certainly cannot say, "She's a Basque, he's Occitan, they're Gaelic".
2. There is reason to believe that for thousands of years the Celts had some kind of suzerainty over the Metrolopolitans.
3. For the last thousand years, the Metropolitans have very successfully expanded their language areas westwards.
The result is surely not a million miles away from the hazy genetic picture that is emerging.

which is why the Invasionists are falling back on the idea of smaller numbers of invaders who then outbreed the natives by stopping their male slaves having children whilst they impregnate the women.

Two problems here:
1. This goes against everything we know about slave societies where the slave children (whether the father is massa or slave) are themselves slaves. Slaves have an economic value. It is a very odd master-race who deliberately wish to replace themselves with a slave-race.
2. The children of such unions will have a mother-tongue that is native not Anglo-Saxon. England, remember, is not like America -- these slaves form ninety-nine per cent of the population, not relocated individuals from a dozen different language groups in a different continent.

An interesting aside here is that whilst evidence has been found for a very strong Y-Chromosome match between North German/Danish males and current eastern Britons there is almost no match in the MtDNA which is passed from mother to daughter. This strongly implies that the A-S came as warrior mercenaries to prop up failing British kingdoms (as Gildas and Bede tell us) then took British wives after the Saxon revolt of the early 450s. Food for thought.

I don't mind terribly this picture of A/S super-studs. But I have never heard of super-studs going back to ensure that at all costs the kiddies speak daddy's language. Rather sweet though.
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Duncan


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Now tell us (or quote orthodoxy telling us) how these Anglians living in the far south-eastern quadrant managed to persuade the rest of Scotland to start speaking English. As you so have persuasively pointed out, the Anglians were given a drubbing every time they stepped outside their south-eastern quadrant.

This is easy for the Orthodoxy. Scotland is 80% mountainous. The south-east quadrant, Anglian Lothian, together with the western kingdom of Stratchclyde is where the vast majority of the modern Scottish population lives. This is why the Romans and then a whole series of English monarchs from Athelstan onwards never fully colonised the lands north of the Forth: they didn't need to. We've also got to remember that all of the Celtic languages of the British Isles were almost extinct up until recent times yet in their heyday were probably spoken far to the east. The battle of Catraeth (Catterick) in 600 AD was fought by Welsh speakers, according to the poet Aneurin, against invading Angles. The Welsh lost and the Angles marched onwards and upwards.

This definitely creates problems for THOBR though, because it implies that whichever way the populations moved it was Celtic that was spoken by the earlier immigrants. We're back to the old problem of majority Celtic genes, majority English language.


You keep making this (to me, baffling) point.

It is crucial to the paradigm shift. Let's look at it again:

Orthodox view - Anglo-Saxon mercenaries arrive in largely Celtic speaking Britain, at the invitation of the Romano-British leadership, to protect a largely Celtic speaking population who are militarily weak after years of protection from the Roman Legions. They are protecting the Britons from the raids of Picts from the north and Irish from the west. The mercenaries smell easy pickings and rebel, driving those who run fast enough into the more easily defended west and enslaving the rest. Hillforts are re-occupied. The population declines as fresh immigrants come in from the Anglo-Saxon lands in Germany and Denmark. The Anglo-Saxons move slowly westwards. They defeat the Britons at Dyrham, near Gloucester, in 577. This separates the Britons in Wales from the Britons in Cornwall. The Britons of the north are beaten at Catterick in 600, giving the Anglo-Saxons much of lowland Scotland. In 616 they defeat the Britons at Chester, separating the Britons in Wales from the Britons in Cumbria. By now the borders of modern England are recognisable. They have the best farmland and the richest parts of the country.

THOBR view - A warrior elite speaking Anglo-Saxon invades English speaking Britain. Some Celtic speakers exist in the west.

Evidence - Genetics, History and Archaeology. The latter two could be made to fit either hypothesis. The genetics, however, is telling us that an ethnic divide exists either side of the Danelaw. The bulk of the UK population shares Y-Chromosones and mtDNA with Basques; a minority with modern people who live in the documented Anglo-Saxon homelands.

This is why I keep coming back to it. If the majority DNA was from the Continent then it would be easy. English and Anglo-Saxon are linguistically and genetically similar. English has always been spoken here and the riddle is solved. But it isn't that easy.

The anomaly - dominant English language, dominant Celtic gene pool. We need to explain how a primarily Celtic population is speaking English. The Orthodoxy, as we know, has to come up with a few ingenious stunts to do this.

Perhaps it is the genetic majority that is actually the English speaking majority all along and it is the minority in the east who have been converted to English from Anglo-Saxon and Danish. That's going to take some proving.
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Mick Harper
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This is easy for the Orthodoxy.

Curiously not. I have tried out this argument on lots of people, especially Scots (including "specialists" of various kinds) and not a single one of them had ever thought about it!

Scotland is 80% mountainous.

This is a typical paradigm-induced stereotype arising (ultimately) from our notions about English ousting Celtic. Scotland is not particularly mountainous. Virtually the whole of it up to the "Perth Highland line" is, at worst, rolling hills. You, Duncan, should know -- since this countryside is very similar to West Yorkshire -- that the whole of the southern half of Scotland is highly amenable to dense settlement. The northern half, it is true, does contain mountains but it is not particularly "mountainous". At any rate it is virtually everywhere capable of supporting huge amounts of settlement. That is why, during the Highland Clearances, hundreds of thousands of people had to be turfed off.

The south-east quadrant, Anglian Lothian, together with the western kingdom of Stratchclyde is where the vast majority of the modern Scottish population lives.

A ridiculously tendentious way of putting things. It is true that the vast majority of the modern population lives in the coalfield belt of Central Scotland but
1) the ancient population of Scotland lived all over the shop and
2) even the central belt is mostly areas of non-Anglo-Saxon settlement.

This is why the Romans and then a whole series of English monarchs from Athelstan onwards never fully colonised the lands north of the Forth: they didn't need to.

Your tendentiousness is getting worse. I have never heard of an expansionary conqueror ever needing or not needing to go anywhere. The Romans didn't need to conquer England, they didn't need to conquer southern Scotland, they did however believe they needed to conquer northern Scotland because the bleedin' Picts kept destabilising the border. So they tried to conquer the north but failed; then they tried the Antonine Wall and that failed, so they fell back on Hadrian's Wall. But of course this is all completely irrelevant because neither Rome nor Athelstan "fully colonised" one square inch of Scotland. The Romans militarily ruled the southern half for about a hundred years, and Athelstan claimed suzerainty over Northumbria/Bernicia. As I said, Anglo-Saxons did colonise the south-eastern quadrant -- though whether such tiny numbers could be said to have "fully colonised" even this quadrant (as opposed to ruling the place by military force) is a matter of interpretation.

We've also got to remember that all of the Celtic languages of the British Isles were almost extinct up until recent times yet in their heyday were probably spoken far to the east. The battle of Catraeth (Catterick) in 600 AD was fought by Welsh speakers, according to the poet Aneurin, against invading Angles. The Welsh lost and the Angles marched onwards and upwards.

There is no suggestion that the Welsh were living in Catterick at this or any other time -- though like all armies everywhere they tried their best to fight their enemies well away from their own territory. We actually have superb historical evidence about how far the Celtic-speakers spread to the east because of place-names (which as you know hardly ever change over aeons). So we know that there were Celts in Cornwall, the Western half of Wales, parts of Western Cumbria, and the northern half of Scotland. And you are quite right, Celtic languages are now extinct in about ninety-five per cent of these areas. It has not prevented us "knowing" they were once Celtic-speaking. Of course if you wish to offer evidence of their being elsewhere you are free to do so.

This definitely creates problems for THOBR though, because it implies that whichever way the populations moved it was Celtic that was spoken by the earlier immigrants. We're back to the old problem of majority Celtic genes, majority English language.

Your unease seems to stem from two "facts"
1. That the major genetic fissure runs along the boundaries of the Danelaw
2. That the present English population has Basque genes.
Frankly I do not believe either of these propositions. The reason I don't is because both "findings" are much more subversive of the orthodox case than of THOBR (which, remember, has far more genetic elbow room since it claims all the genetics took place aeons ago, not the thousand or so years that orthodoxy is obliged to utilise). And since it is contra-orthodoxy I would expect to have heard a whole lot more about it by now.
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Duncan


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Top o' the morning to you Mick! Plenty to Mull (sorry!) over in this one. I lived in Scotland for many years and regularly head up there to climb in those mountains, though am no a Scoatsman. Apparently I'm still a Sassenach which I take to mean of the Saxon race. Do you know the Welsh also use the term Saecsun? I'll never forget going to a cash machine in carmarthen and being asked, on screen, whether I would like to proceed in 'Cymraeg' or 'Saecsun'. Good job I could follow the inference on that one. Anyway, to business.

This is a typical paradigm-induced stereotype arising (ultimately) from our notions about English ousting Celtic. Scotland is not particularly mountainous. Virtually the whole of it up to the "Perth Highland line" is, at worst, rolling hills. You, Duncan, should know -- since this countryside is very similar to West Yorkshire -- that the whole of the southern half of Scotland is highly amenable to dense settlement.

The Firth of Forth/Clyde line used to be called the Scottish Sea. The crossing point was the old Roman road bridge at Stirling. Wallace, you will remember, defeated the English there in 1296. Everything north of this was considered the Highlands. Totally mountainous. There are a few big cities up there now. Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen on the east coast; not much else. The lowlands are to the south and are pretty rugged south of the central belt, but, agreed are not mountainous in the strict sense. This is where the Anglian kingdom was, on the est side. In terms of the area of lowland Scotland it is about two-thirds. Strathclyde, the 'British' speaking kingdom to the west was centred on Dumbarton ( Dun Briton, fortress of the Britons) rock near Glasgow. Spending years amongst the Auld enemy, drinking in their pubs and dodging the canny slash of their Claymores at chucking oot time ya pick up a few tales...

The northern half, it is true, does contain mountains but it is not particularly "mountainous". At any rate it is virtually everywhere capable of supporting huge amounts of settlement. That is why, during the Highland Clearances, hundreds of thousands of people had to be turfed off.

Now come on Mick. I challenge you to hop on a train to Stirling, head north west to Ben Lomond or Ben Nevis. If you dare to go to Skye without your crampons I'll pay your mortgage for a year. Then head east up to Schiehallion in Perthshire, then north into the real big eens. Highland Scotland, away from the coasts, is a land of big mountains separated by Glens. I could post you a climbing pick or two... The Highland clearances are real enough but I think hundreds of thousands is a bit of an exaggeration, though I'll certainly check.

A ridiculously tendentious way of putting things. It is true that the vast majority of the modern population lives in the coalfield belt of Central Scotland but
1) the ancient population of Scotland lived all over the shop and
2) even the central belt is mostly areas of non-Anglo-Saxon settlement.

Is it not an AE maxim that what is was unless there is evidence to the contrary? Apart from the Highland clearances, and their numbers would have swollen the populations of Glasgow and the other big cities, and the waves of Irish immigration to Scotland that led to Celtic and Hibs football teams and the sectarian divide in Glasgow and Edinburgh, there has been little else going on. I do, of course, stand to be corrected...

Your tendentiousness is getting worse. I have never heard of an expansionary conqueror ever needing or not needing to go anywhere etc.

I still think the nature of the landscape in all of this is crucial. The Romans under Agricola defeated the Caledonians at Mons Graupius. The Scots capitulated to Athelstan without a fight. The natives up there won their wars, as ever, through principally geurilla tactics and rarely defeated southern armies in pitched battles. Now is this relevant? I think it is because my point is that the cost in manpower of a occupying a region has to be worth the return. Military matters are not just about some mysterious urge to expand. The economic justification has to be there. No money, no army. So, for the Anglo-Saxons to go north had to be worth it. The whole thrust of what I've been saying is that Orthodoxy claims English is spoken in Scotland for the reasons I've given. Before I accept anything I think it is crucial to consider their case fairly. I have the luxury of not having to defend any ideas to pay my mortgage.

There is no suggestion that the Welsh were living in Catterick at this or any other time -- though like all armies everywhere they tried their best to fight their enemies well away from their own territory.

I think the case for this is clearly part of the Orthodox view. The Kingdom of Gododdin, about which Y Gododdin was written is the old kingdom of the Votadini who lived in Lothian before it was conquered by the Angles. Their capital was at a place called Traprain Law and then Edinburgh (Din Eidyn) as the Angles moved north. The Welsh forces at Catterick were protecting their territory from Anglian incursions. Y Gododdin is taught to Welsh school children today but was actually written in the north, probably around Edinburgh. The Kingdom of Strathclyde that I have talked about was crucially important in all of this. One of its names was Cumbria, etymologially similar to the Welsh word Cymru meaning 'countrymen'. After the withdrawal of the Roman garrison from Britain, there were many years of tribal warfare between the Picts, the Scots (Gaelic speaking Irish raiders), the Brythonic Welsh of Strathclyde (south-west Scotland and Cumbria in England), and the Anglo-Saxons of Lothian. The North Welsh were isolated from their kinsmen in Wales by the victory of the West Saxons at Chester. Much of this material comes from the Annals of Ulster and the Annals of Wales but there are plenty of other sources. I think it is, therefore, premature to talk of Welsh being confined to Wales. It is pretty certain that it was spoken far to the east and north.

Your unease seems to stem from two "facts"
1. That the major genetic fissure runs along the boundaries of the Danelaw
2. That the present English population has Basque genes.
......And since it is contra-orthodoxy I would expect to have heard a whole lot more about it by now.

Ok, so you're not going to accept the genetics. I've tried to present this material as fairly and honestly as I can. Scientific truths, after Popper and Kuhn, are pretty much always going to be on a 'best guess' basis as new evidence can always emerge. This is the current 'best guess'. In a sense it is contra-orthodoxy in some ways but not entirely. The picture that I have painted for this forum is one of Anglo-Saxon domination over a genetically more numerous and probably Celtic speaking British population, certainly in southern Scotland. The Orthodoxy would prefer it, I'm sure, if we had A-S genetic dominance throughout English speaking areas but they haven't got it. So the newly emerging view has to explain precisely the problem that I finished on last time. The reason you've not heard a lot more about it? The gentic research is only now coming to the fore. It's there in all the articles and books I've mentioned.
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Mick Harper
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You are losing the plot. The geography of Scotland is beside the point except in one crucial consideration: there is a considerable population outside the area of Anglian penetration. I picked you up on all this "mountainous" business because it is precisely precisely the point at issue. Orthodoxy has to solve two problems:
1. How did the A/S's convert the native English population
2. How did the A/S's convert the native Scottish population
In the first case they claim it is by occupying the place for several hundred years and thereby being in a position to kill them all, drive them all out, breed them into extinction or whatever.

In the second case none of this is possible because they never occupied Scotland (save the south-east quadrant) so they have, very subtly, to get rid of the population by other means: by inference, by stereotype, by inattention. The process is achieved thusaways
1. By emphasising that this south-east quadrant is where most Scots lived
2. By emphasising that this south-east quadrant is the cultural heartland
3. By emphasing the 'transitory' nature of society in the west and north.
Hence gradually a picture is built up whereby the English-speakers of the south-east are gradually but decisively able to overwhelm everybody else -- or at any rate their language does. But everything we know about Scotland, then and now, points to none of this being true.

Now return to your pocket exposition of Scottish history and ask yourself, "Does any of it substantiate this picture?" It does not. Let me use your own words to illustrate this

The crossing point was the old Roman road bridge at Stirling.

Now, why did the Romans and later the Scots themselves regard Stirling as "the gateway to the highlands" as, in some fashion, the northern limits of something or other (or the southern limits if you want to look at it that way)? Well, you can say it's just a geographical marker but why does everybody keep going on about the highland zone and lowland zone at all when in truth the lowlands are pretty hilly and the mountains contain tons of flatland? The answer is that these are two different countries and always have been: the English-speakers in the south and east and the Gaelic-speakers in the north and west. It's exactly the same in England: the 'lowland' zone in the south and east is English-speaking and the 'highland' zone in the north and west (Cornwall, West Wales and Cumbria) is the Celtic zone.

1. There are a few big cities up there now. Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen on the east coast; not much else.

This is another bit of the stereotype. Nobody points out that the north-east of Scotland absolutely pullulates with people and specifically has substantial towns (an English speciality, not a Celtic one). Even orthodox Scottish historians have a problem with the 'English" dialect here which appears even to them to be extraordinarily ancient (I have had long involved discussions about this area with them but I invite you to take up the cudgels here.)

central belt....This is where the Anglian kingdom was, on the est side. In terms of the area of lowland Scotland it is about two-thirds. Strathclyde, the 'British' speaking kingdom to the west was centred on Dumbarton ( Dun Briton, fortress of the Britons) rock near Glasgow.

You must see what you are doing -- you are pushing the British (supposedly Celtic) bit back and egging the Anglian one forward. Why not look at it the other way (since we do not know the exact extent of either kingdom) by saying something like "The British kingdom covered the entire area from Stranraer to beyond Glasgow whereas the Anglian kingdom was limited to Edinburgh and the coastal strip of the East Lothians." That's the way false paradigms get established, by taking a little bit of the truth and spinning it into a rich tapestry. And by the way I see you have been following the saga about the name of Edinburgh which for yonks was "Edwin's burgh" ie Anglo-Saxon, until some cretinous nuisance discovered that it long predated the coming of the Anglo-Saxons and Edinburgh is now officially 'etymologically obscure', though I note you go for the Din Eidyn explanation....aah! place name theory. Such a creative paradise.

However all your material about British/Celtic/Welsh etc states is entirely irrelevant. Nobody is disputing that Celtic-speakers were politically dominant everywhere in the British Isles. They named the states they created, they named the capitals they erected, they wrote the songs celebrating their wins and losses. The whole point about THOBR is that the British Isles were always the plaything of foreign elites, but the natives never changed.

So all you have to do is explain how, in the southern half of Scotland, the entire population were speaking a Celtic language in (let's say) 600 AD but by (let's say) 1300 AD they were all speaking Inglis. Please, Dunc, no more ancient Scottish history, just tell us step-by-step how this momentous change took place. Or, if there are no facts to hand, how they could have done it. Me, I just don't know of any process whereby it could be done but since you believe it happened I expect you to tell me. I mean really tell me....sort of blow by blow....like with the Highland Clearances....I'll accept that that actually happened and converted a mainly Gaelic-speaking area to a mainly English-speaking one. But how did they do it elsewhere? The court is yours. And by 'thinking it through' you will be converted...I believe.
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Mick Harper
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I have once more plodded through the BRITARCH exchanges on the genetic material. We must both accept that, while interesting and potentially decisive, nothing much can be hung on it as of now. I suggest we let the genetic stuff rest.
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Duncan


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However all your material about British/Celtic/Welsh etc states is entirely irrelevant. Nobody is disputing that Celtic-speakers were politically dominant everywhere in the British Isles. They named the states they created, they named the capitals they erected, they wrote the songs celebrating their wins and losses. The whole point about THOBR is that the British Isles were always the plaything of foreign elites, but the natives never changed.

I find it shocking that you can consign the role of the masses to being the plaything of elites. Why have we never found a scrap of archaeological or documentary evidence to show that English was being spoken anywhere in the British Isles until Chaucer? The idea that Celtic warrior elites fought Anglian warrior elites over the lands made fat by English peasants stretches the bounds of credulity. Surely some English speaker somewhere must have learned how to write. How would the Saxon fyrd, composed entirely of farmers we are assured, have communicated with the housecarl elite? Everything we know about elites tells us that in militaristic societies the best warriors are the elite. Where was that English warrior elite when the Anglo-Saxons invaded? Did they write in Latin but have English names? If we assume that place names don't change then surely the same must be said for personal names.

Please, Dunc, no more ancient Scottish history, just tell us step-by-step how this momentous change took place. Or, if there are no facts to hand, how they could have done it. Me, I just don't know of any process whereby it could be done but since you believe it happened I expect you to tell me.

I have been trying to do so and sadly the history, ancient or otherwise, is the only way we're going to agree to do it. I think many of the theses orthodox historians advance are possible but always inconclusive. Just because we don't exactly know how Old English could have evolved into Modern English doesn't necessarily mean it couldn't have. The problem that THOBR is always going to have is that people think that is a more likely explanation than that of English always being spoken here, but I accept that I may be tendentious.

Nonetheless, short of the genetics, we must plod on. I think you're forcing me to substitute my best striker but big questions need big answers, so how do we resolve things? The east coast of Scotland seems ripe for exploration, as you suggest:

Even orthodox Scottish historians have a problem with the 'English" dialect here which appears even to them to be extraordinarily ancient

Would be interested to know which historians, so we can all look into this one. All else is contestable but yes, the Anglo-Saxons never officially colonised the North East coast. Old English, if it ever existed, could not evolve into Middle or Modern English by some mysterious process because there was no Anglo-Saxon to speak it there. Good, so now we have a proper test case to consider.

Before I get busy on this one there are a couple of things we must entertain:

1. Small towns have grown into big cities since the Industrial revolution. This is going to involve looking at population records. If people migrated from the south then English could have been 'imported'. Particularly with Aberdeen and the oil industry this population boom is very recent. But I will get back to you.
2. Capelli et al did sample Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen, and found a large Germanic input in the DNA. It was a minority input but an input nonetheless. Now unless I find evidence for historical movement there, where did it come from?
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Ishmael


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Duncan wrote:
The idea that Celtic warrior elites fought Anglian warrior elites over the lands made fat by English peasants stretches the bounds of credulity.


Yet if Roman historians are to be believed, this is precisely what occurred on the Italian peninsula.

The history of the Republic is largely a history of conflict over an ever-widening civil franchise, the expansion of which paralleled an ever-widening military burden. For generations, only property owners were permitted to take up arms in defence of the state. Gaius Marius for the first time allowed the Querites of Rome (the common, non-propertied citizens) the privilege of fighting for the Republic. But permitting the lower classes to fight gave them a stake in the state. That this would ultimately lead to the demise of the Republic is the very reason the Patricians and Propertied Classes had done their own fighting for so long. Marius won his cause only because the threat to the Republic under his stewardship was existential.

And yet, even in the Imperial Age, with Rome's professional armies, slaves were not permitted to join the legions. What then was the ratio of slave to free in Italy? Hard to know but it appears that slaves constituted the vast majority of Rome's population many times over and a large proportion of the countryside was worked by their labours as well. Might we say that at its height, 50% of Italy was human property and, as such, not permitted to wield a sword in defence of the Empire?

Must we then believe that Rome was exceptional? Or is it not more likely that Rome followed a state structure not too distinct from that adopted by its neighbours? In fact, as Rome's expanding power rose also in proportion to its expanding franchise, we might expect that those neighbours that Rome dominated were hamstrung by an even narrower class-based theory of citizenship which produced even fewer persons legally entitled to bear arms.
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Duncan


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For generations, only property owners were permitted to take up arms in defence of the state.

Ishmael, I think this is certainly possible. We know the Anglo-Saxons kept slaves. The 7th Century laws of Ine talk about wealas.

It's probably essential for martial societies to assume broadly similar structures with a large economic base of slaves generating surpluses which are managed by a propertied farming class, the fyrd, and local professional warriors, the thegns, to protect and orchestrate defensive mobilisation in times of war. Any society that didn't have such a structure would probably lose in any protracted war because it couldn't feed it's military nor could that military be sufficiently competent if were not professional. Each thegn in England, as in the Celtic lands, would have had his retinue of well armoured hard bastards to protect him. In return they could expect their Lord's protection and all the status that would thereby accrue. They were a 'band of brothers' no doubt, sworn to die with their Lord. After The battle of Stamford Bridge we read of Harold having to free the Fyrd to tend their crops and collecting another one on the way to Hastings. The Housecarls remained with him, of course.

What intrigues me is that this process is entirely organic. Parallels are complicated in some ways because Roman society was far more urbanised and its estates were larger than those in Celtic or Anglo-Saxon Britain. The Roman patricians imported their slaves from other countries. In Britain those slaves were the natives and the picture proposed by THOBR is one of people coming with the land but never acting in the dramas played out all around them. These are people who are hidden from history. The wealas of the laws of Ine. Who are they? The Anglo-Saxons called them 'foreigners' or 'slaves' but we are told by THOBR that they spoke English. The only evidence provided for this is that they must have done so because the idea of them speaking Celtic and then, over a few hundred years, suddenly giving it up to speak English is preposterous. I can't explain how it happened but I would like to know why we have no record anywhere of this language being spoken other than the fact that we do so now.
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I find it shocking that you can consign the role of the masses to being the plaything of elites.

You are easily shocked. It has been the Iron Rule of history I would have thought. Only a very few countries and only in the very recent past have the masses had much of a say in their own destiny.

Why have we never found a scrap of archaeological or documentary evidence to show that English was being spoken anywhere in the British Isles until Chaucer?

The short answer is that we have no documentary evidence about what anybody was speaking at any time until...um...I suppose linguistic textbooks in the nineteenth century. What everybody speaks is inferred from the language that they write documents in. How do you know what language was spoken in England during the nineteenth century? Unless you can track down a (trustworthy) source that describes in detail the language situation in England, I guess you'll just have to take the written evidence which is almost wholly in English and infer from that that most people were speaking English. Though I should be a bit careful -- the surviving evidence is mainly in the form of Parliamentary debates and the Times newspaper and stuff like that. I don't know what the hoi polloi were speaking.

But fortunately you have spotted how fortunate we are here in England because in the fourteenth century, English became a written language and, glory be, everybody can be inferred to be speaking Modern English. Not Middle English, not Chaucerian English, not half-Anglo-Saxon English, not Norman French English but just plain old, good old English English. In fact I would venture to say that Chaucer is rather more similar to my estuarine English than to your Yorkshire Tyke (Billy Liar variant) English.

The idea that Celtic warrior elites fought Anglian warrior elites over the lands made fat by English peasants stretches the bounds of credulity.

Blimey, your credulity needs some care and attention. The Romans, the Greeks and the Carthaginians were warrior elites fighting over lands made fat by...er...who exactly? And the Romans took over from the Belgae, surely? And when the Danes ousted the Anglo-Saxons from the Danelaw, was everybody an Anglo-Saxon. And when the Anglo-Saxons reconquered it, was everyone a Dane? And when the Normans conquered it, was everybody an Anglo-Saxon once more. I expect everybody in the Danelaw is speaking Norman French by now.

Surely some English speaker somewhere must have learned how to write.

I expect loads of them did. And what would they write? Something in Latin and/or Anglo-Saxon, yes? And would dear old Duncan be able to tell the difference? And by the way, Dunc, surely there must have been loads of Celts in England according to you who learned to write?

How would the Saxon fyrd, composed entirely of farmers we are assured, have communicated with the housecarl elite?

In Anglo-Saxon, you booby. What do you think "farmers" mean? It means the blokes owning farms. The blokes with a stake in the countryside. The blokes that have something to lose if their own professional housecarls lose out to a bunch of Danish or Norman housecarls and all of a sudden there's twenty thousand land-hungry Danish or Norman soldiers needing a farm. Do you really think the actual peasantry (ie the slaves, the Wealas, the day-labourers) get kitted out any more than the blacks on a slave plantation got kitted out in 1862 when the Southern States went to war.

And before you say, "Yeah, but the entire white English-speaking population signed up for the American Civil War on both sides" permit me to point out that those whites produced armies in eventually millions. Anglo-Saxon armies were a few thousand -- that's a few hundred housecarls and a few thousand "farmers". Top whack. There's no room for the bottom ninety-five per cent of the population, whatever language they spoke.

Everything we know about elites tells us that in militaristic societies the best warriors are the elite.

What rubbish. In militaristic societies certain people are trained to be warriors. And they consequently have a monopoly of warrior skills...so, yes, I suppose you could say they are the best warriors. But who they are is strictly a matter of who's doing the choosing. As a matter of fact, whenever we have actual evidence, it tends to be worst detritus of the human population that joins the army. It's not something that appeals to sensible people. To be perfectly honest, the whole of the Roman Army and the whole of the Anglo-Saxon army could have been made up of English-speaking 'slaves' without changing things one jot. So easily is discipline and esprit produced.

Where was that English warrior elite when the Anglo-Saxons invaded?

Well, that depends. If te old structure had been thoroughly dismantled by the Romans (which is a safe presumption) then the English were the people who the Anglo-Saxons beat in the various battles so ably recorded by your good self.

Did they write in Latin but have English names?

Yes, I presume so.

If we assume that place names don't change then surely the same must be said for personal names

Actually personal names can change rather quickly with every change of regime (and even more so with a change of religion) but do you know of any non-English names that are mentioned in the surviving texts? I know of none so I will be interested if you can. I shall be fascinated to see how you will be able to descry their non-Englishness after being Latinised or Anglo-Saxonised (because the names will be written in one of these two languages) but you seem confident of being able to do so. I look forward to a list.

I have been trying to do so and sadly the history, ancient or otherwise, is the only way we're going to agree to do it. I think many of the theses orthodox historians advance are possible but always inconclusive. Just because we don't exactly know how Old English could have evolved into Modern English doesn't necessarily mean it couldn't have.

You have just summed up the true power of Applied Epistemology. When the evidence is clear, we just accept the evidence. When the evidence is not clear we fall back on common sense ('what is is what was' and other handy devices of the sort). That is why when you say "just because we don't exactly know how..." I ask you to try to think of a way, any way, because if you can't you must reject the theory. It has no evidence in its favour and it has no common sense in its favour either.

But remember this only applies to Scotland. In England orthodoxy does have an explanation -- it might not be a good one but they do have one (in fact several). Now I ask you again, come up with even a bad one for Scotland.

The problem that THOBR is always going to have is that people think that is a more likely explanation than that of English always being spoken here, but I accept that I may be tendentious.

The problem that THOBR is always going to have is that people have been taught one thing by authority figures and are being asked to believe another by a non-authority figure. The evidence is generally neither here nor there.

The east coast of Scotland seems ripe for exploration, as you suggest: Would be interested to know which historians, so we can all look into this one. All else is contestable but yes, the Anglo-Saxons never officially colonised the North East coast. Old English, if it ever existed, could not evolve into Middle or Modern English by some mysterious process because there was no Anglo-Saxon to speak it there. Good, so now we have a proper test case to consider.

This language is called Doric and a starting point can be made here
http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/tle/
JOURNAL/ARTICLES/Stalmaszczy/Stalmaszczy.html
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