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Why do the English speak German?

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  • Why do the English speak German?

    Every other nation that was invaded by the Germanic tribes kept their own language except the English?

    The Franks in France, the Ostrogoths in Italy, the Visigoths in Spain and the Vandals in N Africa soon spoke the native tongue. In Britain, while some words come from the Norse or Old French tongues, the language is predominantly Old German at its core.

    So why the language change? Any ideas?
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  • #2
    I don't have much to back this up with, but as a quick suggestion, could it be that the British were not as developed as the lands that had been under Roman dominion for longer, and thus not as 'solid' for the purpose of resisting new cultural traits?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
      In Britain, while some words come from the Norse or Old French tongues, the language is predominantly Old German at its core.
      Far from a few words, English is a fusion of old German and French (thus making it perfect for the single-European language ).

      What language predominated before the Saxons et al arrived?

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      • #4
        Nice try, Peders, but it doesn't really hold water.

        When the Saxons arrived in England, they largely displaced the native population. The Celts who'd been part of the empire hung on in Cornwall and Wales, much as the Bretons did in France. (That other great Celtic bastion, Scotland, was never integrated into the Roman Empire the way England and Wales were.)

        With nobody to teach them a new language (at least nobody they considered worth talking to) they continued to speak their own, modifying it as necessary.

        One of the stupidest questions I've ever heard was in a history lesson;

        "Where did the Saxons go ?"

        @Gooner - I'd imagine the Celtic languages which evolved into Welsh, Cornish, Gaelic and Irish, with a smattering of Breton thrown in.
        Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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        • #5
          Ah, okay. Thanks!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by the ace View Post
            Nice try, Peders, but it doesn't really hold water.

            When the Saxons arrived in England, they largely displaced the native population. The Celts who'd been part of the empire hung on in Cornwall and Wales, much as the Bretons did in France. (That other great Celtic bastion, Scotland, was never integrated into the Roman Empire the way England and Wales were.)

            With nobody to teach them a new language (at least nobody they considered worth talking to) they continued to speak their own, modifying it as necessary.

            One of the stupidest questions I've ever heard was in a history lesson;

            "Where did the Saxons go ?"

            @Gooner - I'd imagine the Celtic languages which evolved into Welsh, Cornish, Gaelic and Irish, with a smattering of Breton thrown in.
            There is little to no archaeological or DNA evidence to support that Britons were displaced.

            Oddly enough, the c12k Britons that ran away to form a community in France, actually had to face a far more organised Germanic army than the raiders. They did so easily, thus Brittany was formed.

            The latest DNA evidence suggests most of the English had up to 50% of Germanic heritage, but that does not mean 50% of the population were Anglo-Saxon at one point. Further, if the locals were pushed into Wales, there almost certainly would have been bardic tales of such an important event.

            The locals decided to speak English?
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            • #7
              Andrew,

              The DNA evidence says the eastern British tribes were Germanic, not Celtic. That would help explain why English is mostly Germanic. It also says certain tribes in Gaul were Germanic and not Celtic. The Belgae are an example. Even the Romans wrote that the German tribes across the Rhine were very similar to their 'Celtic' neighbors.

              Keep in mind that the Germans and Celts were not that different when Julius Caesar went amongst them. The Celts were spread out over Central Europe into Dacia and made it as far as Galatia in Turkey. The Teutons and Cimbri that invaded Italy were probably Celts.

              The German tribes were developed over time when the Roman Empire prevented them from migrating. Newcomers from Scandinavia and The Steppes combined with the locals to make a new 'German' people. Service in the Roman Army helped to arm them and experience in the Steppes made their cavalry formidable.

              Pruitt
              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                Andrew,

                The DNA evidence says the eastern British tribes were Germanic, not Celtic. That would help explain why English is mostly Germanic. It also says certain tribes in Gaul were Germanic and not Celtic. The Belgae are an example. Even the Romans wrote that the German tribes across the Rhine were very similar to their 'Celtic' neighbors.

                Keep in mind that the Germans and Celts were not that different when Julius Caesar went amongst them. The Celts were spread out over Central Europe into Dacia and made it as far as Galatia in Turkey. The Teutons and Cimbri that invaded Italy were probably Celts.

                The German tribes were developed over time when the Roman Empire prevented them from migrating. Newcomers from Scandinavia and The Steppes combined with the locals to make a new 'German' people. Service in the Roman Army helped to arm them and experience in the Steppes made their cavalry formidable.

                Pruitt
                I am from the same school of thought. It has been said that English is the most spoken German dialect. There is contention among that most of the French influence came late in Middle English and mostly during Modern English, which actually might make American English more pure from Old English than British English.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  There is little to no archaeological or DNA evidence to support that Britons were displaced.

                  Oddly enough, the c12k Britons that ran away to form a community in France, actually had to face a far more organised Germanic army than the raiders. They did so easily, thus Brittany was formed.

                  The latest DNA evidence suggests most of the English had up to 50% of Germanic heritage, but that does not mean 50% of the population were Anglo-Saxon at one point. Further, if the locals were pushed into Wales, there almost certainly would have been bardic tales of such an important event.

                  The locals decided to speak English?
                  What if any influence did the Picts play or are they being lumped in with the Celts?
                  "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                  Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                  you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Salinator View Post
                    I am from the same school of thought. It has been said that English is the most spoken German dialect. There is contention among that most of the French influence came late in Middle English and mostly during Modern English, which actually might make American English more pure from Old English than British English.

                    I'd have thought most French came into the English language after the Norman conquest.

                    Beowulf in the original Old English is unintelligible. The Canterbury Tales is perfectly readable.

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                    • #11


                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English...e#Word_origins

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                      • #12
                        This is the Wiki map for the Norse Bronze Age culture c1200BC, the first peoples that are believed to speak a proto-Germanic language.



                        The following is the spread by 500BC.



                        Then by 1BC.



                        The Angles, ie the tribe that gave England its name, held the north of the country, with the usual history shown in the following map.



                        However, it appears more than possible if the Germanic culture and language can cross the seas south and beyond, then why not west?

                        I believe it more than possible that the proto-German language was in the East of England before the end of the Roman period, perhaps before they arrived.

                        Given that Beowulf is set in Scandanavia, this shows that a cultural link between England and Scandanavia is already in place.
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                        • #13
                          John,

                          The Picts are being found to have a Celtic genealogy. The main contention is whether or not they spoke Irish Gaelic or the Gaelic spoke in Wales. Since the Dal Raida clans from Ulster took over Scotland, spoke Irish Gaelic, that pretty well stops any Welsh type Gaelic spoken there.

                          Pruitt
                          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

                            However, it appears more than possible if the Germanic culture and language can cross the seas south and beyond, then why not west?

                            I believe it more than possible that the proto-German language was in the East of England before the end of the Roman period, perhaps before they arrived.
                            Well the sea is as much a path as it is a barrier.
                            What did the Romans say? Wouldn't have they remarked upon some Britons speaking Germanic and others Celtic languages.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              John,

                              The Picts are being found to have a Celtic genealogy. The main contention is whether or not they spoke Irish Gaelic or the Gaelic spoke in Wales. Since the Dal Raida clans from Ulster took over Scotland, spoke Irish Gaelic, that pretty well stops any Welsh type Gaelic spoken there.

                              Pruitt
                              Here in the area there are still remains of a large Celtic Culture that once covered most of modern Germany. The remains but not the language. From this I believe the Celts/Kelts were pushed out by invading German tribes, which didn't stop moving west.

                              I'm sure this makes Von R happy that he speaks a "Kraut" dialect.
                              "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                              Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                              you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                              Comment

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