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View Diary: Ancient England: The Anglo-Saxons (116 comments)

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  •  Not these (3+ / 0-)
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    Ojibwa, mayim, Ahianne

    "German" is an indistinct term from the Roman point of view. In fact, the diary suffers from too wide a use of the term as well.

    Germanic tribes served with the Roman legions from the days of Julius Caesar, but that is not the same thing as "all Germans." Ever wonder why the English say "German," the French say "Allemane," and the Germans say "Deutsche?" It's because those are names of three of the very, very many groups who altogether spoke Germanic dialects.

    Bede argues that the Scot/Pict incursions of 410-50 persuaded the "kings" of Britain to seek aid from Saxons, Jutes, and Angles. The names he records are "Hengest and Horsa," but these are two versions of the same name: Horse. Furthermore, there is Continental evidence for Hengist. These "Germans" were not in the pale. They were hostile and "uncivilized." Had it been otherwise, literacy would not have vanished, and Britain would speak a Romance language.

    Hengist leads a group of mercenary Saxons to victory and then has a feast of celebration where they massacre all the kings of Britain.

    Top down won't usually get people to change their language quickly, but top-down is a way to so disrupt commerce and civic organization that the cultural elite would die out quickly. Further, if the Saxons had similar attitudes as later Germanic raiders and visitors, their policy of destruction would have been pretty widespread.

    I know that some people really, really want for this to be a gradual, peaceful thing, but it makes little sense that way. Furthermore, I sincerely suspect the motives of the people who want the narrative to be "We're all one big happy German family" (or, worse because newer) "happy goddess worshipping family."

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 06:48:11 PM PDT

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    •  I didn't say it was peaceful (3+ / 0-)
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      Ojibwa, mayim, RiveroftheWest

      But there is no way the basic language coulda be laid down by a tiny invading aristocracy.  The Normans didn't change English into French. Not the basic building blocks.  

      But the Saxons were already there in the 300s.

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Sun Sep 08, 2013 at 08:02:30 PM PDT

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      •  Saxons? (1+ / 0-)
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        That is a thing that I'd like to see evidence of. I can accept auxiliaries in the form of "Gauls," who would have been Romanized, but the idea that Saxons -- who were known as a predatory group -- were there when the Romans were, is something I'd like to read about.

        Again, there are Gauls and there are Gauls. . . Germans and Germans. Again, check the people who make the case very, very carefully.

        Oh, and for the Saxon presence to be great enough to flip the language essentially within a couple of decades after the legions were withdrawn, the Roman legions would have noticed and commented. Late empire records are fairly well preserved, and Britania was a sore point with all the emperors. If you've read up on how the next wave of people from near Jutland would behave when they came as an organized group, you can far more readily believe in the efficiency of their destruction.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 03:49:52 AM PDT

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