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Thread: Apartheid in Anglo-Saxon Britain

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhydderch View Post


    Now there is abundant reason (which I won't go into here) to believe the post-Roman Britons were still native speakers of Brythonic, however use of Latin was widespread as a second language. There is also good reason to believe many among the Saxons could speak Latin.
    I think the best reason to believe that the post-Roman Britons were still native speakers of Brythonic is that their descendents still speak Brythonic languages in Brittany & Wales, & it was spoken in Cornwall up to the 18th century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhydderch View Post
    I still have my answer to your last message on the Skadi thread. Skadi actually went down while I was writing it out. A couple of days ago I sent it to you in a PM (it's rather long actually ); that might clarify some of the background to this hypothesis.
    I've read the PM, but I though it might be better to get those ideas out in public. Of course, pasting the PM in here wouldn't quite fit into the flow of conversation, but I'm hoping we can hit all the topics in that PM (and more) over the course of the thread.

    Britain was ruled for less time (not that much less though, as you say), it is further from Italy, and it is an island. Displacement of native languages would spread from more strongly Romanised (and closer to Italy) areas like southern Gaul. It needs a base to spread from, communities where the language is native would hasten the process too.

    Given say, a couple more hundred years, I think Latin probably would have established itself in Britain too.
    These are good points. They don't prove that Britain wasn't Latin-speaking, but they strengthen the case.

    Incidentally, the people of Toledo (who were primarily Romance from an ethnic perspective) were Arabic-speaking when Toledo was liberated after only three and a half centuries of Muslim rules. (Sad, huh?) So a population can shift its language pretty quickly when the new language gives access to a significantly more valuable material culture (which had been my contention on the thread you were responding to when you got cut off).

    And for the historical evidence, I'll quote what I've said in the PM:

    "Well, the post-Roman rulers almost exclusively had Celtic names, but Roman education and ways appear to have been widespread (judging from the writings of Gildas and others). But unlike on the continent, they don't appear to have considered themselves "Romans", and indeed continental writers don't seem to see them as such either. In fact I've read that their attitude to Britons was not very friendly, seeing them as "treacherous and rebellious no-goods" in the words of one article I read."

    I'll go into more detail if necessary.
    People are often pretty conservative in their naming. Visigothic names (and surnames), for example, are still very common in Spain, even though Visigothic language died out probably long before 711. So lack of Roman names might not be good evidence for their not having adopted Latin.

    That they didn't self-identify as Romans could be telling, but then, many colonized peoples who have completely dropped their ethnic tongue for the that of the imperial power (and sometimes the more so out of resentment) have also not identified with their overlords. In many of those cases, of course, the division between the groups has been further supported by racial distinction, something which doesn't operate at all in dividing the Romans from the Britons, but I still think that not self-identifying as Romans might merely be a sign of resistance, even though they (maybe) adopted very much of Roman culture, including Roman language.



    Quote Originally Posted by Americ
    I think the best reason to believe that the post-Roman Britons were still native speakers of Brythonic is that their descendents still speak Brythonic languages in Brittany & Wales, & it was spoken in Cornwall up to the 18th century.
    I think the Celtic language of Brittany is the best evidence here. Wales and Cornwall, I think, were never really taken over by the Romans — I could be totally wrong there, and if so I hope someone corrects me — it's just the way I've been told it in the past.

    But if I understand correctly, the Bretons are the descendants of Britons who fled the Anglo-Saxon conquest. I would think they would be far more likely to have switched to Latin (if anyone did) than the Welsh or the Cornish, since they would likely have lived in the more Romanized areas that the Anglo-Saxons took over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric View Post
    People are often pretty conservative in their naming.
    True, however as far as I'm aware the Gauls and others had generally adopted Roman names.

    Visigothic names (and surnames), for example, are still very common in Spain, even though Visigothic language died out probably long before 711.
    I think the situation there is a little different in that the Visigothic "established" culture had become merged with that of the natives, to an extent at least, and the Visigoths were the rulers. The locals had adopted aspects of the Visigothic culture of the rulers, which became fixed.

    Regarding Britain, if I remember rightly it appears that during Roman rule, Britons often had a Roman name and a British name. Pelagius for example, was apparently Morgan, and St. Patrick was Maewyn Succat. This was a pattern throughout the Roman Empire.

    Given this, it seems likely that British names would have died with the British language, but they appear to have re-emerged if anything, from under the (perhaps) rather superficial Latinisation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhydderch View Post
    Regarding Britain, if I remember rightly it appears that during Roman rule, Britons often had a Roman name and a British name. Pelagius for example, was apparently Morgan, and St. Patrick was Maewyn Succat. This was a pattern throughout the Roman Empire.

    Given this, it seems likely that British names would have died with the British language, but they appear to have re-emerged if anything, from under the (perhaps) rather superficial Latinisation.
    That does seem to me to be pretty good evidence for the preservation of the British language.

    But tell me more about this pattern that was common throughout the Empire. Maybe I simply misunderstand it. Did it occur only in areas of bilingualism? Or was it something that had more to do with ethnic preservation regardless of linguistic preservation? Some Indians and Blacks here in the US, for example, will adopt ethnic names even though they have no clue about their ethnic language. Do you know more about how this practice worked elsewhere in the Empire?

    It seems to me from reading the New Testament that many Jews would have two names, one Hebrew and one Greek. That would seem to argue for the bilingualism theory. But the problem with that is that the Jews didn't speak Hebrew at that time, but Aramaic. So their Hebrew names would likely have been a matter of mere cultural preservation, even if they did perhaps use their Hebrew names among themselves and their Greek names for others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric View Post
    Did it occur only in areas of bilingualism?
    That's the impression I get, although I could perhaps look a bit further into it. For example I'm not aware of Gaulish or Iberian names surviving in their respective regions.

    Taking a Roman name appears to have been a matter of identifying in some way with the language and culture of the Romans, and also being a Roman subject (I mention the latter because the Britons apparently largely dropped the practise of using a Roman name after the departure of Roman rule).

    Or was it something that had more to do with ethnic preservation regardless of linguistic preservation? Some Indians and Blacks here in the US, for example, will adopt ethnic names even though they have no clue about their ethnic language.
    I guess that's probably a bit more of a modern phenomenon though, with maybe certain exceptions.

    Do you know more about how this practice worked elsewhere in the Empire?
    One thing I had in mind is what you mention below, the apostles had Hebrew, Greek and often Latin names too (i.e. Paul's Hebrew
    name was Saul, but "Paulus" is Latin).

    It seems to me from reading the New Testament that many Jews would have two names, one Hebrew and one Greek. That would seem to argue for the bilingualism theory. But the problem with that is that the Jews didn't speak Hebrew at that time, but Aramaic. So their Hebrew names would likely have been a matter of mere cultural preservation, even if they did perhaps use their Hebrew names among themselves and their Greek names for others.
    Well, Aramaic is very similar to Hebrew, and is even referred to as "the Hebrew tongue" in the New Testament, so I'm not sure that the names would be perceptibly different in Aramaic, at least given that they have come to us through the medium of Greek.

    However, in this case there is also the religious element. And Hebrew was also retained as a second language among the Jews.

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    I suppose it's necessary to bring up the onomastica of late Roman Britain as revealed through early mediaeval Welsh genealogies.

    Vortigern was from a line of Vitaliuses and Vitalinuses (i.e. Gwidol, Gwidolin). There's an Eudaf Hen knocking around in his pedigree too (Octavius the Old). (Western/Southwestern 'England')

    Coel Hen may well just be Caelius. His ancestors include a Gratian and an Urban. (Northern 'England')

    Cluim and Cinhil in Ceretic Guletic's pedigree are distortions of Clemens and Quintilius. (Southern 'Scotland')

    Tacitus, Paternus and Aeternus all figure in the pedigree of Cunedda. (Lothian - North 'Wales')

    http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/gene/index.html

    It seems that the elite were heavily Romanised, which few would dispute. But then a fashion seems to have come just before the Germanics came, for taking ultra nationalistic names and pedigrees. Most of the pedigrees in the above sources begin with ancient Celtic Gods. The Romanised generation is followed by one with native names, some even associated with rulers who had fought the Romans - Caradoc and Tasciovanus.

    In language, the Welsh have quite a lot of Latin borrowings - pont for bridge, and loads more that I've forgotten!

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    But then a fashion seems to have come just before the Germanics came, for taking ultra nationalistic names and pedigrees.
    Perhaps it's simply that the names had always been used, along with a Latin name (as in the example I gave in the above post), but with the end of Roman rule they tended to drop the Latin name.

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