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Forum LockedThe Engish Language 17,000 bc to 300 ad

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    Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 17:18
 

The English Language 17000 bc - 300 ad

More research has been done on the English language than any other language in the world, but one question has always remained a mystery. When was the first word of an undeniably unique language spoken?

All languages derive from another language, as did English from an earlier, unnamed tongue, but when precisely did it separate?

This topic has been one of much conjecture amongst Britain’s leading archaeologists, geneticists and linguists of late. And several leading theories seem to have emerged……….

One group have wound up supporting the notion English is a very old language indeed, possible 17,000-10,000 years old.

About 17,000 years ago Europe’s small population of Cro-Magnon hunter gatherers were driven from the north and centre by the plunging temperatures of the Big Freeze, a potent period of the ice age that caused the ice sheets to spread from northern Europe almost to southern France. This squashed all people in Europe together into small congested areas in the southern Europe. In this high population density, like no other time in human history, communities flourished, technology was developed, factories and population centres built, and undoubtedly new languages amongst the tribal grouping emerged. Could a Proto-English Language have been one of them?

When 10,000 years ago the ice age ended and humans recolonised northern Europe, a small bands of hunter gatherers 10,000 strong walked across what would become the English Channel and inhabited Britain. The theory is English developed from the langauge spoken by these peoples. 

Geneticists have suggested genetic evidence exists in abundance enough to suggests that the 10,000 were mostly two peoples. Proto-Basque peoples, who make up to 66% of male English genes who were joined by another small group of Stone-Age peoples who made their way up southern France and the low countries. The English language is a fusion of the languages of these two peoples.

One of the most enigmatic statements made about the language of the ancient English was made by Julius Caesar himself in his writings of the British people. He says the tribes of southern Britain spoke the same language as the Northern Belgae. This creates two problems. First he appears to be saying the tribes of southern Britain speak a different tongue to the rest and second that tongue is common to the Belgae. The Belgae themselves spoke no common tongue. But it is general believed that the northern Belgae spoke either German or another mystery non-Celtic tongue.

This leaves two interpretations of Caesar’s words. That the tongue of the Belgae was indeed the same one and that was the prehistoric one of the English, or the other that it was Germanic and the people of southern England were speaking a Germanic language when Caesar arrived.

The supporter of the second theory his suggests this pushes a migration of Germans to Britain long before the post-Roman date. This has lead some archaeologists to reinterpret of Nennius’ account of the Anglo-Saxon invasion, for which no-evidence whatsoever can be found of happening in the 6th century and pre-dating Hengist and Horsa’s booze cruise firmly to a bc date.

A final camp suggests a more sober explanation that the English language was introduced by the Romans themselves through Germanic speaking legionaries. Though records are far from thorough German legionaries were definitely prevalent in Britain, So far numbers are far too seemingly small.

While no firm agreement can be drawn by any of these theories. Is English either a Germanic or Proto-Basque language, is 17,000 or 2,500 years old, who brought it? In fact more questions have been raised than answered. One consistency does emerge, all theories seem to suggest it’s much older than previously imaged, and probably was spoken in early AD and more likely BC years.

Suggested reading

Stephen Oppenheimer - Origins of the British

Win Scutt - various writings

Barry Cunliffe - Facing the Atlantic

Francis Pryor - Britain BC and Britain AD

Michael John Harper - The History of Britain Revealed



Edited by Paul - 08-Apr-2007 at 18:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 18:17

When 10,000 years ago the ice age ended and humans recolonised northern Europe, a small bands of hunter gatherers 10,000 strong walked across what would become the English Channel and inhabited Britain. The theory is English developed from the langauge spoken by these peoples. 

 
 
 
Quite possibly the first English phrase spoken was-  Are you sure this is the route to the Riviera?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 18:39
Paul, did you lift this article from somewhere or write it yourself? If you borrowed it from somewhere, where did you borrow it from? I have a few issues here with terms. Regarding English as a language, how are you defining it? Clearly there was a language spoken in the land that would be called England but it wasn't English. It is pretty certain that the island was settled by a Celto-Iberian people but they did not speak English nor did they speak a language that has as a descendant modern English. What they spoke was more akin to Gaelic and Welsh.

The second issue that I have with this post is the lack of acknowledgment of outside influences on English. We know of trade that was taking place before the Roman's arrived, surely this could explain similarities between languages of the peoples of Europe. Also keep in mind that Julius Caesar's writings were propaganda and he was not interested in telling the straight story. What does this have to do with the English language? Well Caesar like any good conqueror was trying to portray his campaign as righteous. One way of doing this is to depict the conquered as uncoothed people who need to be civilized. The fact that he says that the south "English" spoke a language same as the Belgae means nothing since he was not trained in those languages. The two languages could have sounded similar and been closely related but not the same. I'll give you a modern example Spanish and Portugese sound the same and are derived from the same parent language but they are not the same.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 19:01
I wrote it myself, which is why it is so poorly written.
 
"Iberian Celts settled Britain"
 
There are several other posts on this forum discussing Celtic invasion/wipe out theory. Needless to say no sane European archaeologist believes in this. This highly charged agenda is purely the preserve of cranky new-age types and ultra nationalists.
 
The Celts or more properly The La Tene Culture is a name given to Bronze Age inhabitants of Switzerland. So saying Iberian Celt is a bit like saying Italian Viking.
 
As for an Iberian migration. There are two theories of Iberian migrations to Britain. The first described above in 10,000 bc and a later one by the Beaker People in megalithic times, both long before La Tene Culture existed.
 
 
 
"The fact that he says that the south "English" spoke a language same as the Belgae means nothing since he was not trained in those languages"
 
I think a general, senator, dictator and author of the Roman Empire can be credited with a little more intelligence than to make a mistake the average 4 year old may make.


Edited by Paul - 08-Apr-2007 at 19:02
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 19:26
"I think a general, senetor, dictator, and author of the Roman Empire can be credited with a little more intelligence than to make a mistake the average 4 year old may make."

There's giving him credit and then there's being fanciful. You're being the latter. Intelligence has nothing to do with making that mistake. My point was not that he was unintelligent but rather that if the two languages are similar like Spanish and Portugese he easily could have made that mistake. That mistake is not one of a lack of intelligence.

I will discuss the Celts when I have more time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 19:38
Personally I don't know if Spanish and Portuguese are the same or different. But if I had a team of professional Spanish translators working for me when i visited Portugal. i think after consulting with them I may be able to find out accurately whether the languages are the same or different.
 
I think Caesar consulting with his Belgic translators could do so too. Thus,
 
"Excuse me mr Belgic man acting as translator for me, when you speak to the Britons, are you speaking the same language a similar one or a very different one?"


Edited by Paul - 08-Apr-2007 at 19:40
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 22:06
Just so I won't be accused of trollingWink
 
 
Paul, The U of W Va., Marshal and the Library of Congress have been doing research on this subject since the early 60's.  College stu's working grants covering the backwoods of West Virginia collected taped samples of english language in almost original pre elisabethan form.  It gave them clues we didn't have before and triggered the Appalachian Project.  You might find it on jstor,  I'm not certain it would be under that name.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote New User Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Apr-2007 at 11:23
I thought J C talked of the belgae language as being the same cos
 
It was different from other tribes language in England cos they came from Northern Europe some of the southern tribes. I thought the Germanic roots of our early language was from these early tribal movements and contact with trade. Apologies if I have the wrong end of the stick.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2007 at 04:56
King John is right that just because a language is/was spoken in what is now England doesn't make it English.
 
I assume Neanderthals could talk: but they certainly didn't talk German.
 
English is a mongrel language and even in its earliest forms it didn't start appearing until the middle ages. (In fact England existed before English did, whereas German existed before Germany did.)
 
There's no more reason to consider whatever language was spoken by the first inhabitants of the island as proto-English than any other of the languages that probably went into the mix.
 
Moreover if you want to restrict 'Celtic' to the La Tène culture then you need to stipulate it: it isn't what 'Celtic' means in normal English.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2007 at 06:07
LOL Paul, you are so funny....

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