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Inventing History : forgery: a great British tradition (British History)
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DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
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The Saxons were a Germanic tribe, so we are told, and prior to their establishment in England they shared a Runic Script with their German and Scandinavian cousins.

How much runic Anglo-Saxon exists? Sod all?

We've been told German scholars were pilfering British archives shortly before Beowulf turned up, taking stuff home and saying it was German material -- which in an important sense it may well have been.

Then suddenly they fetch up on Mother England's shore and miraculously start writing in a Romanised script.

On the other hand, as you say, there is a significant difference between Anglo-Saxons as evidenced in Britain and Anglo-Saxons as evidenced on the continent. The archaeological basis for the identification seems to be piss poor.

The existence and longevity of Saxons is pretty sure. Jutes are a bit more controversial, coming from Jutland or Belgium depending on who you ask. But the Angles are the particular enigma, innit? It seems at least as likely that Anglo-Saxon means "the English Saxons" as "the Angles and Saxons together".

Even the academics are coming around to the idea that the Saxon Shore forts were trading establishments rather than seafront defences and the Saxons seem to have had a long and intimate relationship with Britain. (I reckon Julius Caesar commissioned his invasion fleet from the Saxons.) So, both reins and script seem to have been taken over from the Romans rather lightly.
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Mick Harper
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Not enough attention is given to the actual scripts used. The medium truly might supplant the message. I remember having a merry argument on a website over the status of Scribal Latin -- an abbreviated version that Medieval scribblers went in for -- which my opponent claimed was an example of Latin rapidly evolving into another language! And of course the original THOBR insight was that Latin took up only half the writing space of natural European languages (ie was originally a shorthand, something like the Telegrammic English that newspapers used to save money eg Upproceed Abysinnia Warreport Soonest Outragecolourfulsplash).

It is surely significant that one of the chief differences between English and other Indo-European languages is the pronuciation of w and v, and that the former is (apparently) an arbitrary doubling of the first, invented by some early alphabet-freak. Though we describe it as a double-u!

Gothic script, which is highly angular and therefore like both Runic and Latin would seem to be designed for carving on stone (or for printing?) needs to be investigated. It would be interesting to know, for a start, the origin of the English alphabet. This is usually airily dismissed as being the Latin one but of course it is no such thing (since it has K, W and Z...what else?) I assume it is the Irish one that we took over but I suppose we ought to know.
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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How much runic Anglo-Saxon exists? Sod all?

How much Runic anything exist anywhere? Sod all. It was written on degradable mediums (wood, stone etc) -- proves nothing.

By the time Beowulf was discovered the Germans were a literate people.

Answer the Question
Where is the precursor to written A-S in their Homeland BEFORE the 5th Century.

Even the academics are coming around to the idea that the Saxon Shore forts were trading establishments rather than seafront defences and the Saxons seem to have had a long and intimate relationship with Britain.

The Saxon Shores is myth. Of the Roman forts listed as the Eastern defence of the realm all but two were uninhabited by the end of the 3rd Century AD and the two that were inhabited both were trading ports with no Roman garrison evidence. The two ports in question were in southern England facing Brittany where virtually all the sea traffic between Europe and England (as opposed to Britain) took place.

I reckon Julius Caesar commissioned his invasion fleet from the Saxons.) So, both reins and script seem to have been taken over from the Romans rather lightly.

The Saxons weren't mariners. They certainly reached England's east coast by sea but I seriously doubt it was in ships of their own making. Caesar used Belgae and Vendee technology to build his Channel fleet, neither of whom were Germanic.

As Ish pointed out in another thread, written language requires the invention of letters that closely represent the sounds of any demotic form of natural speech. Then you have to be able to convert these sound cues into words that are readily understood, then you have to assemble these words into a sentence structure which emulates the way a given people naturally speak (grammar, syntax, etc) and finally you have to have an educated group of teachers who can then teach others how to write the script and read it. You can't have a written language without a high degree of knowledge. Before you can have a written language you have to have linguists.

All northern European Runic Scripts appear to be a derivative of Gokturk -- Asian scrip that is well attested in what is now Turkey and the area around the southwestern end of the Caspian Sea. The Scandinavians had maritime contact with these people via the two major inland rivers the Volga and Dnieper. There are more than 20 rune stones in Denmark and Sweden that have hitherto been indecipherable using known North European Runic Alphabets that have recently been translated using Gokturk.

Gothic script, which is highly angular and therefore like both Runic and Latin would seem to be designed for carving on stone (or for printing?) needs to be investigated. It would be interesting to know, for a start, the origin of the English alphabet. This is usually airily dismissed as being the Latin one but of course it is no such thing (since it has K, W and Z...what else?) I assume it is the Irish one that we took over but I suppose we ought to know.

Gothic is the major anomaly in European alphabets. It is not only angular, it contain several Runes as letters. It is not like Latin, it is like Greek, yet there is no historical link between the two. But the most telling evidence is that it contains two letter Sampa and Qoppa which ARE Greek. But they are Ionian Greek and were deleted from the Greek alphabet in the Greek Classic period. So how does an already enigmatic Northern European alphabet acquire two archaic Greek letters that were missing from the Greek alphabet BEFORE Alexander the Great's time? Solve that mystery and you'll solve the mystery of who the 'Barbarians' of the North really were.

As for the K, W and Z, they're Semitic and I think you're right, Mick, the English alphabet came from Ireland who got theirs from the Berbers. Everyone assumes the Irish only became literate when the Christian Monks arrived. I say it's rubbish.
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Mick Harper
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By the time Beowulf was discovered the German were a literate people.

Not sure what you mean by this. A lot of them were presumably literate from at least Roman times since large numbers of Germans were within the Empire. If you mean that German was a literate language, I am not sure that this is true. Leastways it is often said that it was Luther who "introduced demotic German writing"...but I would quite like to know the history of written German. That would mean, I suppose, Hoch Deutsch (High German) but even that curious language is a bit iffy.

The Saxon Shores is myth.

Again, not sure what you mean. It is true that the why and the what and even the where of the Saxon Shore(s) has been seriously questioned in these pages but as to its actual existence, I thought it was attested to (as Litus Saxonicum) very anciently. But again it would be good to know exactly when and by whom.
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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Not sure what you mean by this. A lot of them were presumably literate from at least Roman times since large numbers of Germans were within the Empire.

Yes they were but the literate ones were taught LATIN and after the Empire collapsed and the Papacy took over, scholars like Alcuin were employed to teach them LATIN as well so the Empire's list of students must have been pretty thin on the ground. German as a language isn't attested until much later and certainly not before the earliest Anglo-Saxon writing.

My point is that there is no Anglo-Saxon language and as no one seems to be able to answer this simple question:Where is the precursor to written A-S in their Homeland BEFORE the 5th Century? There is no precursor to written A-S in their homeland BEFORE the 5th Century. Scholarly Monks invented it in England.

Who were the educators? Who were the linguists? Who had the wherewithal to create a language?
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DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
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w and v... the former is (apparently) an arbitrary doubling of the first invented by some early alphabet-freak. Though we describe it as a double-u!

The distinction between U and V is nowhere near as clear as this font makes out. Latin used a pointy V and didn't have a separate, rounded U... medieval English often has U and V transposed... in handwriting, U and V can be hard to distinguish... and W can be pointy or rounded... The name double-U reflects the sound, the (usually) pointy shape reflects the confusion... When Domesday is rendered in modern fonts, W words are spelled with UU, though the Norman scribes must have used W or VV!

U, developed in the late Middle Ages, was originally a positional variant of the letter V, as J was of I, used only in lower-case writing and only medially, and representing both the vowels now written with U and the consonants now written with V. The use of the two forms to distinguish the consonants and vowels which they now represent was not standardised until the 18th century.


The scribe would surely automatically adjust the language and the alphabet to accord with the piece of work within which he was interpolating, since he does not wish the reader to know it is an interpolation. However, the fact that he would have to do so presupposes that he has knowledge of the original. This could be significant in epigrapahical terms since it is unlikely, for example, that a German interpolater would have the Bede original in his possession.

I don't follow this. Interpolations won't stand out if the scribe re-writes the whole thing: which, 9 times out of 10, is what he has to do; which, 9 times out of 10, is what he is meant to do.

On the rare occasion that he is altering or inserting text, it has to be in the style of the manuscript he's working on. So he has the exemplar to copy.

The idea of forging a copy only comes about now that we care about originals and copies made to look deceptively like originals: unfortunately, played out on a very queer pitch.
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DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
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I would quite like to know the history of written German.

The history of the German language begins with the High German consonant shift during the Migration period, separating South Germanic dialects from common West Germanic.

If this is the standard we have to work with, Mick, nobody knows the history of German. Still, you said written German.

Wikipedia says this sort of thing, which just goes to show how written language is artificially manipulated... though it doesn't stop them assuming that they can also infer all sorts of things about what people, even pre-literate people, said:

The earliest testimonies of Old High German are from scattered Elder Futhark inscriptions, especially in Alemannic, from the 6th century, the earliest glosses (Abrogans) date to the 8th and the oldest coherent texts (the Hildebrandslied, the Muspilli and the Merseburg Incantations) to the 9th century. Old Saxon at this time belongs to the North Sea Germanic cultural sphere, and Low Saxon should fall under German rather than Anglo-Frisian influence during the Holy Roman Empire.

As Germany was divided into many different states, the only force working for a unification or standardisation of German during a period of several hundred years was the general preference of writers trying to write in a way that could be understood in the largest possible area.

When Martin Luther translated the Bible (the New Testament in 1522 and the Old Testament, published in parts and completed in 1534) he based his translation mainly on this already developed language, which was the most widely understood language at this time. This language was based on Eastern Upper and Eastern Central German dialects and preserved much of the grammatical system of Middle High German (unlike the spoken German dialects in Central and Upper Germany that already at that time began to lose the genitive case and the preterit tense). In the beginning, copies of the Bible had a long list for each region, which translated words unknown in the region into the regional dialect. Roman Catholics rejected Luther's translation in the beginning and tried to create their own Catholic standard (gemeines Deutsch) - which, however, only differed from 'Protestant German' in some minor details. It took until the middle of the 18th century to create a standard that was widely accepted, thus ending the period of Early New High German.
. . .
Until about 1800, standard German was almost only a written language. At this time, people in urban northern Germany, who spoke dialects very different from Standard German, learnt it almost like a foreign language and tried to pronounce it as close to the spelling as possible. Prescriptive pronunciation guides used to consider northern German pronunciation to be the standard. However, the actual pronunciation of standard German varies from region to region.
. . .
The first dictionary of the Brothers Grimm, the 16 parts of which were issued between 1852 and 1860, remains the most comprehensive guide to the words of the German language. In 1860, grammatical and orthographic rules first appeared in the Duden Handbook. In 1901, this was declared the standard definition of the German language. Official revisions of some of these rules were not issued until 1998, when the German spelling reform of 1996 was officially promulgated by governmental representatives of all German-speaking countries.
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DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
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Wikipedia:
"Old English literature, though more abundant than literature of the continent before 1000 A.D., is, nonetheless, scanty. In his supplementary article to the 1935 posthumous edition of Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader, Dr. James Hulbert writes: "....How incomplete our materials are can be illustrated by the well-known fact that, with few and relatively unimportant exceptions, all extant Anglo-Saxon poetry is preserved in four manuscripts."
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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One of the most basic forms in any language is the Verb 'to be' so here is a little test.

Gothic: we had = habaidedumes
Latin: we had = habebumus

Both share the same root -- hab (have)- and suffix -- mes/mus (we)
Both mean literally -- 'have-did-we'

Yet German, which is supposed to be a derivative of Gothic, bears no resemblance to either.
German: wir hatten = we had
English: We had

How do you think this happened?
Could it be that Gothic is a precursor to Latin?
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DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
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Runic finds in England cluster along the east coast with a few finds scattered further inland in Southern England. Frisian finds cluster in West Frisia.

They're working with bugger all here!

Wasn't Alfred 9th century? Did he reform of the writing system and get the machinations of state done in Anglo-Saxon instead of Latin? The runic stuff looks to be sea-bound.

---

Thorn and Wynn were introduced into the Latin English alphabet to represent [θ] and [w], but they were replaced with th and W in Middle English.

This is about as much as the study of Middle English should amount to!
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DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
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The Saxons weren't mariners

Howd'ya know?
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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The Saxons weren't mariners

Howd'ya know?


Name me one Saxon seafaring tale
A legendary Saxon sailor
A Saxon Maritime Mythology
A historically attested text about Saxon maritime prowess
A second hand reference by Gildas or Bede perhaps

There may have been coastal sailors among their number. They may even have braved the North Sea crossing to the Continent on occasions but they were most definitely NOT MARINERS.
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DPCrisp


In: Bedfordshire
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Name me one Saxon seafaring tale...

I can't name you one Saxon tale, period.

How do the Vikings line up against your criteria? (What I know of Norse mythology doesn't strike me as overwhelmingly nautical.)

And if they come across as particularly sea-fare-y, what do their tales say about the other things they did, like commerce, town planning, warring, administration...?

Someone was operating in the North and Baltic Seas, entreating Nehalennia for safe voyages, prompting the Romans to coin the phrase 'Saxon Shore', prompting Bede to write about sea-born invasions, getting buried in ships...

It doesn't have to have been the be all and end all of a 'modern', multi-purpose warrior elite for it nevertheless to be true that they were in charge of the seaways.

Why do you draw a stark line between "having coastal sailors among their number" and being "mariners"? If you mean they weren't up to trans-Atlantic voyages, say: fine, I didn't say they were; nor do Caesar's shipwrights need to have been.
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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There are competing theories as to the origins of the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc. One theory proposes that it was developed in Frisia and from there spread later to England. Another holds that runes were first introduced to England from Scandinavia where the futhorc was modified and then exported to Frisia. Both theories have their inherent weaknesses and a definitive answer likely awaits more archaeological evidence.

Runic finds in England cluster along the east coast with a few finds scattered further inland in Southern England. Frisian finds cluster in West Frisia.

The common thread here is Frisia. Frisia/East Anglian Coast. The mariners were Frisians, who did have a maritime history/mythology. They had coastal contact with England and no doubt had safe harbours where they traded either with or without Roman sanction.

As traders they would have known quite a bit about local trade and politics.

There is scant evidence of any proto-AS runic script and everything that is assumed to be AS Runic is done so in the light of orthodox theories about AS migration. Everything found in England so far can be directly attributed to the Frisian Runic Script. The Frisians were probably the 'transport medium' for the AS migration.
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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As for the invention of AS/OE I believe it was done after the Arrival of St Augustine who had a Papal commission to convert the pagans of Eastern Britain. And as the Church was noted for allying itself with elite rulers the new Anglo-Saxon elite was his first stop.
It's pretty hard explaining the finer points of Catholicism to people whose language you don't understand so there had to be linguists in some form with Augustine whose job it was to decipher AS in order to preach Christianity to a wider audience. It was a two-way street: the Anglo-Saxons provided the church with grist for the mill and the Papacy plugged the Anglo-Saxon elite into the growing European Royalty, which they now controlled via the Donation of Constantine.

By giving the Saxons their own written language they enhanced their status as a civilised power, but it was only an illusion of power as the real control always remained with the Papacy. Diplomacy and legislation was always maintained in Latin and remained so until well after the Magna Carta. The most powerful man next to the King was usually the most senior Papal appointee. In many cases the Kings were illiterate.

Hasn't it struck anyone here as odd that written Anglo-Saxon, French, Spanish and German just happened to materialise not too long after they were respectively Catholicised?

And is it not also anomalous that the Anglo-Saxons who were supposed to be writing in a simple Runic Script suddenly arrived with a fully formed language complete with Roman alphabet and vocalisation?
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