One point concerning "Angles, Saxons, and Jutes":

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by LingLang, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. LingLang Registered Member

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    AHA!

    That's why I'd never heard the phrase!

    I've only ever read pre-conquest and immediate post-conquest materials, as one of my primary interests is the (extremely fuzzy) border between Old and Middle English, followed by Early Modern Engiish to the English of the current day.

    High Middle English has always bored me, so I've never read the Arthurian legends, and I've only read Chaucer because I was made to read him in high school (and I hated it!).
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I can find no information on Robinson's credentials. You seem to have academic connections, can you tell us more about him? Linguistics is one of the softest of the "soft sciences" and a lot of woo-woo is produced that floats around for years before peer review finally vacuums it up. (We've seen quite a bit of it here on SciForums.) So linguists are always skeptical when one of their fellows pops up with a startling new hypothesis.
    This is what we have always been taught, but I don't think anyone who gave it much thought assumed that meant that there were no other Germans at all on those boats.

    "Hey everybody, we just found out that the Romans have abandoned Britannia, leaving only peaceful monks behind. They turned it into a nicely organized place with a bountiful agricultural base, roads and a governmental structure which is now empty at the top. What say we go over there and take their place? We know how to rule a bunch of sissy farmers, and we're really good at collecting taxes!"

    I'm sure many people answered that call who were not Angles, Saxons or Jutes.

    Bearing in mind that West Germanic and East Germanic had only been differentiated from North Germanic for a few centuries, the various West Germanic tribes formed a dialect continuum and did not have distinct languages. So they could communicate with each other and form a new community with relative ease.

    The Angles and Saxons seem to have comprised the majority of the occupiers, leaving their mark all over the map of Albion: East Anglia, South Saxony ("Sussex"), etc. There is no county named "North Jutland" or "West Frisia." So the Germanic invaders collectively became known as Ango-Saxons, their country was named Angle Land, and their language was known as Anglisc. Still, none of this implies that there was no contingent from the other German tribes. Their dialects were so similar (and almost completely unrecorded!), that for most words of "Anglo-Saxon" origin there is no way to tell which specific dialect it came from.
    That makes sense. I've been told that the Germanic language that most closely resembles English is Modern Frisian. Modern German underwent astounding phonetic evolution (Verner's Law) yet paradoxically retained much of the ancient grammar, making it considerably different from Modern English.
    I'm not going to ask for his credentials since his assertions aren't very extraordinary. The presence of Norsemen in the British Isles during the Anglo-Saxon occupation is well documented, and many of our words are of Norse origin, such as awkward, fellow, sky, take and even the verb form "are."
    I've got no problem with that.
    The Germanic Franks populated the north of what the Romans called Gallia and the Celtic Gauls (after whom they named the place) populated the south. To this day you might hear the distinction between the gargled German R in Paris and the flapped Celtic R in Nice. In addition to the almost unique uvular R that is still used in all the Germanic languages except ours (and American English R is just as unique and even harder for foreigners), the Franks also brought along the German umlauted vowels (ä, ö, ü although the French don't spell them that way) and the peculiar German preference for the present perfect tense over the preterit (tu as aimé/du hast geliebt/you have loved instead of tu aimas/du liebtest/you loved). Oh yeah, and they renamed the country after themselves.

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    The ultimate etymology of "path" is muddled, but it was not borrowed into English from Persian. It is a native Anglo-Saxon word that exists in all the West Germanic languages, including Modern German Pfad.
    I'm the Moderator of this subforum so you don't have to look any further. SciForums is generally a place of secondary and tertiary research (I suppose Wikipedia would make that quaternary), but people who have done original research are welcome to cite it.
    Unless someone challenges you (i.e., invokes the scientific method which is the primary rule in this place and peer-reviews your assertion) I wouldn't ask you to clutter up your posts with references that very few of us would even dream of digging for.

    So first, lets see how controversial your assertions are. So far the two scholars you've cited have not stretched the envelope very far, if at all.
    The German invaders brought a dialect continuum with them, and Angle Land rapidly became a dialect continuum unto itself. Pronunciation differed from one population center to the next, in an era of virtually no central government to promote a "standard" dialect. The "standard" pronunciation of a word was often merely the dialect of the town in which it was most used because of the kind of trade or product it represented.
    The boundary between Anglo-Saxon (nobody calls it "Old English" anymore because it is not intercomprehensible with Modern English, unlike, say, Ancient Greek and Modern Greek) is relatively clear, compared to many languages. When the Normans invaded they took over and made French the official language of government, business and scholarship. Within a very small number of generations Anglisc adopted a huge number of French words, underwent a drastic simplification of its grammar, and went through astounding phonetic changes. I would say that an Englishman in 1266 could not understand an Anglo-Saxon of 1066 (on the eve of the Norman Invasion). You'd be hard pressed to find another language that changed this much in only 200 years. Latin to Portuguese? Old Slavonic to Polish? Sanskrit to Urdu?
    Even Middle English to Modern English is a more typical evolution. Pick any two-century period between 1211 and 2011, and I think you'll find the differences between the two endpoints so moderate that the speakers could understand each other with a little patience and a little effort: precisely the definition of a dialect!
     
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  5. LingLang Registered Member

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    Scheherezade:

    Thanks for your account of your ancestry.

    I, myself, descend (almost 100%) from a land with a totally laid-back, relaxed, unhurried way of life. In fact, there's a major American institution devoted spreading our easy-going way of life among young Americans. I offer you this video presentation showing a group of young American men eager to learn the relaxed ways of my ancestral land, the magical, misty and mystical Kingdom of Prussia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxOCxxHQJYY

    ***

    And, seeing as you're a woman, I'm certain that you'll love our Prussian-American finesse at the fine art of the styling of young mens' hair. Watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-4HODlIMwk

    Cheers!
     
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  7. LingLang Registered Member

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    Fraggle Rocker:

    Thanks for your input.

    You've made quite a few excellent points, but also a few errors.

    It'll take me a while to sort it all out, but I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
     
  8. LingLang Registered Member

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    Fraggle Rocker:

    Here's some info on Professor Robinson:

    https://www.stanford.edu/dept/DLCL/cgi-bin/web/people/orrin-rob-robinson

    Secondly, you have the fundamental division within the Germanic familly confused; North Germanic and West Germanic are more closely related one to the other than either is to East Germanic, which retains the archaic Indo-European trait of an inflected-for masculine nominative singular (as in "fugls" (bird) (compare Modern High German "Vogel:, Old English "fugle", Modern English "fowl".). Indeed , English originally began as a bridge-dialect between North Germanic and West Germanic (although you're going to have to wait for my citation on that one, as I'll need the permission of one of my former professors to release the contents of a personal communication between us to substantiate this).

    The boundary between Old and Middle English is not as you perceive it, but, as I do not possess evidence to hand, I can't state it more clearly than that for now. I'll gather evidence and present it to you as I can.

    ***

    More later, but I need to rest for now.

    There'll be a part II to this piece, but right now I'll need to get some rest to make it happen.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  9. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you for posting two youtube selections for my viewing pleasure, although your purpose eludes me.

    My grandfather was a Leutenant Colonol and the head of Veterans Affairs until he retired and my father served in both the German Special forces and the Canadian army, PPLI.

    I am quite practiced with a pair of clippers from show grooming horses and I also trim my husbands hair to management standards which are somewhat more cultured than the entry level haircut shown.

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  10. LingLang Registered Member

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    This I intended to be part of my original response, but I must have accidentaly deleted it.

    The Norse vocabulary items which you've offered are all items from the period of the Viking Invasions. The Northern Germanic influences of which I speak predate the Germanic Settlement of England.

    In other words, your examples are about three hundred years late!
     
  11. LingLang Registered Member

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  12. LingLang Registered Member

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    OK, with permission:

    Professor Andrew Sihler, Emeritus, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told me (and, please, accept this in the spirit in which it's offered, as my interpretation of what Professor Sihler said, with all errors of fact or interpretation being strictly my own):

    [T]here was a lot of very early influence of North Germanic on the northern varieties of OE, one notable example being the replacement of the original 3sg marker -th by the 2sg ending -s, which must have taken place before the rise of -st in OE for the 2sg, pretty transparently by accretion of the 2sg pronoun, though as I've tried to argue, it's more complicated than just noticing that cumestu? "are you coming?" looks like a pattern for cumest. (Eventually, of course, the Northern form displaced the etymological form entirely.)

    That said, I think that you are quite right in your principal claim: there are excellent arguments for seeing pre-Old-English as a "transition dialect" between West and North Germanic (which only adds fuel to the fire of the question of whether "West Germanic" is a legitimate subgroup in the first place, rather than a whole collection of transition dialects rather than descendants from a Proto-Language).
    For example, as my guru Warren Cowgill casually noted one day, where OE deviates from the "standard" West Germanic phonological developments as seen in Dutch, and High and Low German, the deviation is generally in the direction of agreeing with North Gmc. And of course if the OE ancestors lived in Jutland, it only makes sense.
    I don't want to go into particulars, but a feature like the breaking of vowels is pretty much limited to OE and ON, no evidence in Istvaeonic and Gothic. Likewise, OE seems to have gotten on the umlaut bandwagon earlier than the other WGmc languages: in High and Low German, for example, it's a sort of rule of thumb (there are exceptions) that you get i-umlaut only when there's an actual i present in the historical period, whereas in OE, even vanished cases of i have that effect, viz.

    PGmc nom sg *gastiz nom pl *gastīz < *gastijiz < *-eyes

    OHG gast gesti

    but

    OE giest gieste

    (Cf ON gestr, pl. gester—the actual source of English guest is presumed to be Scandinavian; OE giest would have given yest or yist, but no such forms are attested, which is unusual: normally, "native" English forms have at least a shadowy attestation, like ash for ask.)

    ***

    Well, that's my evidence (thanks to Professor Sihler) for the status of pre-English as a transitional dialect between NGmc and WGmc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  13. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    104
    Wholly smoke!

    I can finally post under my real name!

    I really hated sockpuppeting as "LingLang", but, for some reason, my registration under my real name just took forever.

    But, now I've got my proper registration, so here I am.

    And that damned "LingLang" sockpuppet be consigned to the trashcan!!!

    ***

    By the way, I tried like hell to delete that last post, and couldn't.

    Like I said, I'm really having a tough time figuring out how to work this forum.
     
  14. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    Here's the piece of my own scholarship I referred to earlier:


    The discipline of historical scholarship proper begins with St. Bede the Venerable, who insisted on basing his historical conclusions on documentary evidence. Beyond this, deduction via comparison of documentary sources relies upon the professional judgment of the historian, which is hardly guaranteed to be faultless. My first effort at original historical research concerned a linguistic analysis of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles to determine the validity of an old myth to the effect that the earlier passages of the chronicle were made up out of whole cloth by classical-period Old English scholars to fill in the gaps in English history and prehistory. In this study, two things struck me: the first, that the language of the earlier entries was clearly more archaic than the language of the later entries (particularly concening the development of the passive voice, which goes from "Man timberode hine from Aengleliscera monnum" [Somebody built them via instrumentality of Englishmen] to the much more modern: "Hie waeron timberode from Aengeliscera mannum" [They were built by Englishmen.]) Further, the early entries identify the Germanic deity Odin (Woden in English) as the progenitor of each Chiefly family in England, which wouldn't really fit in with the worldview of the Christian monks who inscribed these chronicles. Therefor I concluded that the earlier passages of the Chronicles were most likely derived from earlier documents available to the original scriveners of the extant documents (i.e., the documents from which the actual scriveners of the extant documents copied). Multiple-generational copying is indicated by the flat and lifeless text of the earlier entries, as opposed to the vivid emotional energy of the later entries (Such as, in reference to Billy the Bastard's Domesday Book census: "Hit is scaem for to tellan, ac hit waes no scaem for him to donne!" [It's shameful to speak of, but he didn't find it shameful to do!). But the later entries also include massive grammatical errors, such as "...mid hisum thrim scipum" ["with his three ships"], as opposed to the grammatically correct "...mid hisra threona scipum", which shows that the later scribes no longer spoke Old English. Therefor we may conclude that the earlier entries within the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles were, indeed, derived from earlier written documents, and that the boundary between Old English and Middle English predates the Norman Conquest, probably by several centuries.
     
  15. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    Great . You got some good stuff. Keep it coming . Likey Likey More More
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    Even professional linguists with advanced degrees make errors, and I'm just an amateur.
    So you're saying that there were two distinct waves of migration from Scandinavia to the main part of Europe? The Goths came first so their language had more time to diverge from Old Norse, whereas the Germans came later so Old High German is more similar to Old Norse? Actually it's probably the other way round; language usually changes faster in the original population than in an expat group. But in this case the result would have been the same. So what you really imply is that Gothic is a better representation of Proto-Germanic than Old Norse.
    I don't even understand that notion.
    Me and quite a few other people.
    But in that case those influences were on the Celtic language of the original Brythonic inhabitants, not on the Germanic language of the invaders. There are of course traces of Brythonic in Anglisc, but surprisingly few. Any trace of Norse vocabulary, syntax or other influence on Anglo-Saxon, after being filtered through Brythonic, would be very slight. And of course there would be no grammatical influence at all since Brythonic was a Celtic language, not Germanic. There is no possible way that Norse are could have replaced OHG sindan among a Brythonic-speaking people!
    There was no Anglo-Saxon language 300 years earlier, so I'm really confused now.
    Nice double-entendre.

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    Very few of our members do that. The only other one who springs to mind is Walter Wagner. He has published some very controversial work and is often insulted when he comes here. Quite a few members seem to ignore his contributions. I hope you find a different way to present yourself!
    That's unusual.
    We all prefer cute nicknames around here.
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    I think you're giving those monks a bad rap. Many of them were scholars first and priests second, and felt a strong obligation to preserve the legends of other tribes. They had already documented Jupiter and the Roman pantheon, Zeus and the Greek pantheon, and Ra (depending on which era) and the Egyptian pantheon. Treating the Norse pantheon with similar academic respect is no stretch.
    But so much of the difference between Anglo-Saxon (Stop calling it Old English! I'm one of the oldest people here and I have learned not to do that!) and Middle English is clearly the result of French influence. Vocabulary, grammar and phonetics.
     
  17. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    104
    Fraggle Rocker:

    You've written quite an extensive piece, so I'll answer you in sections.


    Originally Posted by LingLang
    . . . . you have the fundamental division within the Germanic familly confused; North Germanic and West Germanic are more closely related one to the other than either is to East Germanic . . . .

    So you're saying that there were two distinct waves of migration from Scandinavia to the main part of Europe? The Goths came first so their language had more time to diverge from Old Norse, whereas the Germans came later so Old High German is more similar to Old Norse? Actually it's probably the other way round; language usually changes faster in the original population than in an expat group. But in this case the result would have been the same. So what you really imply is that Gothic is a better representation of Proto-Germanic than Old Norse.

    ***

    You're putting words in my mouth when you credit me with saying that EGmc differentiated very far from PGmc. I am well aware that core areas tend to innovate while peripheral areas conserve, and my example clearly reveals my understanding of EGmc's greater fidelity to PGmc and PIE than that of NGmc or WGmc. EGmc separarted, not only earlier than WGmc, but more completely, which would explain it's relative conservatism.

    ***


    Indeed , English originally began as a bridge-dialect between North Germanic and West Germanic (although you're going to have to wait for my citation on that one . . . .

    I don't even understand that notion.

    ***

    That notion concerns the idea that Anglian and other WGmc dialects ancestral to English were in immediate contact with NGmc speakers, and shared many of their traits which were not shared by the rest of WGmc.

    More later.
     
  18. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    104

    Originally Posted by LingLang
    The Norse vocabulary items which you've offered are all items from the period of the Viking Invasions. The Northern Germanic influences of which I speak predate the Germanic Settlement of England.

    But in that case those influences were on the Celtic language of the original Brythonic inhabitants, not on the Germanic language of the invaders. There are of course traces of Brythonic in Anglisc, but surprisingly few. Any trace of Norse vocabulary, syntax or other influence on Anglo-Saxon, after being filtered through Brythonic, would be very slight. And of course there would be no grammatical influence at all since Brythonic was a Celtic language, not Germanic. There is no possible way that Norse are could have replaced OHG sindan among a Brythonic-speaking people!

    ***

    I'm NOT speaking of influences transmitted via Brythonic, but of influences which entered directly into pre-English while the speakers were still living in Jutland and Germany.

    Please get the timeline right: "Germanic Settlement of England" means the 5th Century entry of the WGmc tribes onto the Island of Great Britain. Prior to that, you have pre-English, which is when the NGmc influences to which I refer entered the language.
     
  19. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    104
    In other words, your examples are about three hundred years late!

    There was no Anglo-Saxon language 300 years earlier, so I'm really confused now.

    ***

    Since my original time reference was to the 5th Century "Germanic Settlement of England:, there certainly was an OE 300 years later, the time of the "Viking Invasions of Britain", which begins with the AD793 Viking raid on Lindisfarne, which begins the period during which your examples could have entered the English language. No kidding you're confused!
     
  20. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    104

    Originally Posted by Robert Schunk
    Further, the early entries identify the Germanic deity Odin (Woden in English) as the progenitor of each Chiefly family in England, which wouldn't really fit in with the worldview of the Christian monks who inscribed these chronicles.

    I think you're giving those monks a bad rap. Many of them were scholars first and priests second, and felt a strong obligation to preserve the legends of other tribes. They had already documented Jupiter and the Roman pantheon, Zeus and the Greek pantheon, and Ra (depending on which era) and the Egyptian pantheon. Treating the Norse pantheon with similar academic respect is no stretch.

    ***

    I'm NOT giving these monks a bad rap! I am using their well-earned reputation for scholarly integrity as evidence that they faithfully copied earlier documents to construct the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles according to the principles of the academic study of history, being perhaps the first to do so. My purpose in writing the piece from which I quoted on this thread was to disprove allegations sometimes made to the effect that only the contemporary references in the Chronicles are actually history, with the rest having been made up out of whole cloth, rather than having been derived from earlier documents. And 'woden", so spelled and pronounced, is not part of the Norse pantheon, but of the native WGMC pantheon.

    ***


    . . . . the boundary between Old English and Middle English predates the Norman Conquest, probably by several centuries.

    But so much of the difference between Anglo-Saxon (Stop calling it Old English! I'm one of the oldest people here and I have learned not to do that!) and Middle English is clearly the result of French influence. Vocabulary, grammar and phonetics.

    ***

    That's true, but my evidence, as I've presented on this thread, is to the effect that the primary difference between OE and ME , the loss of the intricate inflectional OE inflectional system (as evidenced by my grammatical analysis of the later entries in the Chronicles in which monks, who couldn't possibly have completely changed their language within their own lifetimes, give evidence of no longer really being able to use OE in the manner of a native speaker, was the result of the 8th Century "Viking invasion of Briatin", which obviously predates the 11th Century "Norman Conquest", the latter event representing the beginning of massive French influence upon English.
     
  21. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    . . . .as well as pre-historic borrowings into English from languages as diverse as Avestan Persian (e.g.: "path", from Avestan Persian "panth").

    The ultimate etymology of "path" is muddled, but it was not borrowed into English from Persian. It is a native Anglo-Saxon word that exists in all the West Germanic languages, including Modern German Pfad.

    ***

    Per: Partridge, Eric. "Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English." (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1959), p. 475:

    path ... : ? Scythian -- cf Av patha, akin to Skt patha, a way, a road.

    ***

    Once again, you seem to have timeline difficulties. Seeing as pre-English was part of Proto-West Germanic, it's not surprising that a borrowing at that stage would be shared by all other WGmc languages.

    The cite above said it came from Scythian, but an explanation that I once heard which makes sense to me (sorry, I have no citation, so I'll have to recite from memory) is that many Proto-West Germanic speakers served in the Roman army, where the practice of illegal religions was, for whatever reason, a common practice. Christianity was popular, but so was a Persian faith, whose scriptural language was Avestan Persian, called Mithraism, which was roughly to Zoroastrianism what Christianity is to Judaism. Roman soldiers exposed to this faith would have incorporated part of its scriptural vocabulary into their own speech, and then brought it back to Germania when they retired. A Christian version of this same phenomenon can be seen in the various WGmc reflexes of the Greek term "Presbyter" ("elder', or "priest"), bypassing the Latin term "sacerdos" and, thus, possibly showing it's origin as preceding the Christianizing of the Roman state.
     
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    I see. I thought the Norse people started coming much earlier than that.
    But it's the same pantheon. The Vikings called him Odin, the Germans called him Wotan, and the English called him Woden. What's the difference? The monks would have known that.
    You are more acquainted with the scholarship in this field than I am. Do linguists in general regard the grammatical simplification as the defining difference between Anglo-Saxon and Middle English? It's certainly not what would have made the two language variants mutually incomprehensible. The avalanche of French vocabulary would have made Middle English gibberish to Beowulf, and the wrenching phonetic shift would have thwarted intercomprehensibility in either direction. Quaint archaic grammar or slangy streamlined grammar (depending on which way we're looking) would not have done that.
    I thought the whole point of this exercise was to examine English as a separate member of the Germanic subfamily and trace the various ways in which it struck out on its own path. It's interesting to find a promising (but unproven) origin for OHG path (which our language preserves most closely to its original form) but it doesn't help us answer any of the questions about the development of the language of southern Britannia once it began to go its own way. Every branch and sub-branch and individual language of the Indo-European family has scads of words that did not evolve directly from PIE. Borrowing through contact with another I-E tribe is, indeed, an interesting way for a genuine I-E word to show up in a way that thwarts recognition because it doesn't have the expected phonetic telltales.
    "Illegal religions?" We're taught that pre-Christian Rome was a paradise of religious tolerance, and in fact this explains why Christianity spread so readily: nobody stopped it. So why do you say that Christianity was illegal?
    Mithraism was more of a Roman phenomenon than a Persian one, just as Christianity was more of a Roman phenomenon than a Jewish one. Is that what you're saying?
     
  23. Robert Schunk Registered Senior Member

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    There were some Norse people who came earlier, as my earlier post re: Beowulf attests. But the huge number of borrowings doesn't come until the Viking invasions.



    The grammatical simplification of English, which arose as the result of contact with Norse speakers, is considered, perhaps by most (definitely including myself) as the most important development in the history of the language . Mutual unintelligibility, in my opinion, wouldn't have set in for some time after the Norman Conquest, as French borrowings would have taken some time to work their way from the upper-class households through the illiterate, uneducated people. And , is the "wrenching phonetic shift" of which you speak the same as Fifteenth Century Vowel Shift, that didn't happen until the beginning of Early Modern English at the end of the Middle English period. (Mind your timelines, please!!)



    OK, I'll give you that one.



    Well, the first thing I'm saying about "Illegal Religions" is that the Romans threw thousands of Christians to the lions in the Colosseum. The primary reason Christianity spread so readily is the Emperor Constantine decided to enforce it empire-wide as the sole religion of the Empire.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011

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