Historical background of the AS period (2014)Apunte Español
The languages in England before English
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History of English I
THE AS PERIOD
Political history (and implications on linguistic history)
• The Romans occupied and governed Britain for several centuries but they
left in 410 à decay in the organizational structure of govnmt in Britain.
Vacuum of authority and power: filled by the Germanic tribes that arrived from the Continent.
• The Germanic people on the continent probably knew of the attractions of Britain: their forefathers had fought in the Roman army and participated in commercial trade with the Roman empire.
• Bede (8th c.) tells us about the arrival of the ASs in E (Latin, later translated into E) • 449: Celtic king (Vortigern) in England invites the ASs and gives them land in return for their help to fight against the Picts and Scots • There is hardly any contemporary documentary evidence: only archeological (runes, burial places). The reconstruction of that period is rather speculative.
• Earliest settlements in East-Anglia and the South East with a gradual spread into the Midlands and northwards.
• • • • • • • • • • • From a linguistic point of view, the most remarkable feature of the AS settlement is the complete elimination of the Celtic lgges in England.
Some place names and river names of Celtic origin are retained by the invaders.
• The elimination of Celtic proves ASs were dominant • 5-6 centuries the AS society is monolingual • improbable that the AS spoke a single form of lgge when they arrived: Bede mentions three tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes) which he directly equates with the 3 main OE dialects: Anglian, West Saxon and Kentish.
This leads to the assumption that the OE dialects have their origin in presettlement Germanic.
• This view has been challenged. Compromise: the AS invaders bore with them some dialectal variation but the major factors of the differentiation between OE dialects developed on AS England’s soil.
• End of 6th century: ASs dominate most of what is now England. (OE is the language of the people).
• In Cornwall and Wales Celtic remained dominant.
• 7th century: consolidation of AS authority. Heptarchy (7 kingdoms): Wessex, Essex, Sussex, Kent, East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria • The borders were vague and subject to change • Kingdoms do not necessarily coincide with dialect areas. Two Mercian texts may show as many differences as a Mercian and a Northumbrian text.
• The absence of E Anglian does not mean that there is no dialect variation particular to that area; it only means that there are no texts originating from that area.
• The most important fact of the Heptarchy is that the political centers of power fluctuated considerably from the 7th to the 9th centuries o Kent: 1st Roman Christian missionaries. St Augustine (AD 597). à conversion to Christianity of AS England à Introduction of the Roman • • • • • • alphabet, which was essential for the early developmt. of vernacular manuscript tradition in Britain (8th c) as compared to other Germanic areas (10-11thc). Germanic runic alphabet was not used for normal communication. Only inscriptions.
o AD 650 major centers of political power shifted to Mercia.
o AD 700 major centers of political power shifted to Northumbria (one of the major centers of culture of W Europe). Monasteries: Jarrow, Lindisfarne. Scholars: Bede, Alcuin. Texts begin to be written in English (normally Latin). Most early E texts are of Northumbrian origin.
o Late 8th c Mercian kingdom dominates.
o Late 9th c: political power shifts to the South of England. Wessex, centered at Winchester. Under Alfred the Great there was a flourishing of AS literature with the writing of, e.g., the AS Chronicles and translation of Latin texts. The West Saxon dialect shows influence of Mercian (in writing). ßAlfred sought the help of Mercian scholars to establish a firm cultural, educational and literary tradition.
AD 793 (AS Chronicles): 1st Viking invasion (Lindisfarne) which was followed by sporadic raids of Vikings.
AD 835: the raids increase and the Vikings also attack the eastern and southern coasts AD 865: the Viking army overwinters in East Anglia.
AD 870: Vikings dominate E Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and threaten Wessex.
BUT: Alfred the Great raised a strong and powerful army. Alfred’s strategy and diplomacy enabled him to regroup his forces and establish a truce with the Danish leader in the year 878 in the Treaty of Wedmore. The Danish gradually stop plundering and start settling: by the end of the 9th c they no longer pose a threat.
The Treaty of Wedmore recognized the Danish settlement of Northern and Eastern England in which the Danelaw applied In this area, Danish and English speakers lived side by side (video). The presence of the Vikings is still visible today in, for example, place names ending in ‘-thorp’ and ‘-by’.
Danes & ASs were Germanic: common traditions; their lges stem from a common source and were quite similar. They could understand each other.
Hostility but then both communities are intermarried.
à Scandinavian linguistic features entered the E lgge. (e.g. ‘they, are, give, skirt’) The closeness of both lgges is shown by the borrowing of function words (diff. From Lat/Fr borrowings). However, we find few borrowings of Sc words in OE ß borrowings from Sc don’t appear until the NC à time lag: Sc settlement – incorporation of loans – 1st written record. This also occurred after the NC and the first record of Fr loans.
10th c: Consolidation of Alfred’s achievements. Unification of E under one ruler. This situation contributes to the rise of a literary standard with WS norms. From the 10th c onwards non-WS texts are mainly from Northumbria early 11th c: 1st Edgar and then Ethelred the Unready succeeded to the throne. Ethelred is weaker than his predecessors à Danes gain importance à AD 1016 Canute 1st Danish king that comes to the throne of E. His court is Anglo-Danish. Keeps English advisors. Danish/E bilingualism in court. à Incorporation of Sc loans, although Sc influence is basically restricted to the Danelaw, as evidenced by the low number of loans in writers from outside the Danelaw.
AD 1042: E king comes to the throne. Edward the confessor. Married a French wife. Close relationship with Normandy à Many Frenchmen in court à some early loans from Fr 1066: Edward dies leaving the succession to the throne unclear. Both Harold and William have a reasonable claim to the throne. The latter initiates the NC. The immediate effects are political; the long-term effects are cultural.
Effect of Fr on E lgge will be great.
11-12th c: texts show no Fr loans; ß time lag btw introduction and appearance of loans in texts. ß the manner of the Norman assumption of rule and govnmt. involved relatively few people and had an immediate effect only on the ruling class.
By 1100 the structure of E starts to be modified: this justifies the dividing line (OE-ME).
o Phonology: the OE diphthongal system is lost due to a monophthongization process. The unstressed Vs show little variety in quality à o Morphology: simplification of inflections; grammatical gender disappears. Case endings also tend to disappear.
o Syntax: decline of SOV order These shifts are not caused by the NC. They are the product of long-term trends in the history of E.
After the NC there is a triglossic situation: Spoken Written Latin no religion, law French ruling classes administration, literature E ordinary people very little Ecclesiastical History (and implications on linguistic history) • The 1st major history of E was written in Latin in the 8th c by Bede. (An Ecclesiastical History of the E People). The church = center of power equal to pol. power throughout the AS period.
• 5th c.: Roman occupation of Britain: Celts converted. Same form of Christianity as on continent. Romans left & ASs arrived: not Christians and uninterested in this religion. Decay of the British Church, isolated form the dvlpt. elsewhere.
• AD 597: St. Augustine: conversion of AS England starting in the SE (Kent). Aidan founded the monastery of Lindisfarne starting the conversion in the north (Northumbria) (<Iona=stronghold of British Christianity near Scotland; community of Irish monks). Conversion took place in opposite directions, by Roman and British missionaries.
(conversion of the leaders, not the whole population; Aidan converted the Northumbrian king Oswald).
o Celtic Christianity developed differently than Roman Christianity.
Ireland was never part of the Roman empire and remained somewhat isolated from the continent. Monasteries rather than bishoprics were the fundamental unit of Celtic Christianity. Fervor for learning, writing, production of manuscripts. Encouraged missionary work throughout the world. Founded a new monastery in 563 on Iona (Scotland): very important --> christianization of the north of England. Cultural tradition. Lindisfarne founded in 635.
o As the Irish monks converted the north a second wave of missionary work Roman in nature started in the south (597). The Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine to England with the purpose of converting the AS king. He established a monastery in Canterbury which would become the most powerful seat of Christianity in Britain.
• 7th c: Oswy (Northumbrian king) British Christian & wife follows Roman Church. Differences btw both forms of Chrisitanity are minor, settled in Synod at Whitby à The Roman form of Christianity dominates AS England. BUT the strength of British Christianity can be seen in certain areas of the development of the lgge: Roman alphabet was 1st introduced by the Irish missionaries (writing system ‘insular half uncial’: Roman alph + some runes. To accommodate to the sound system of E. This writing system was used until the NC, when N scribes introduced Fr conventions). 1st texts in E (glosses: OHP).
• The wealth of AS material available to us is as much due to British as to Roman Christianity. Practically all AS material comes from the same source: Christianity. e.g. Bede’s account of Caedmon, the 1st AS poet < monastery of Whitby.
• The early moments of the eccl. history are of great importance to the history of the lgge. On the other hand, from the death of Bede (735) – Reign of Alfred (871) the impact of the Church is less significant.
• Alfred: 2 main ambitions: i) defeating the Danes and ii) cultural and educational reform. Not much scholarship in southern England. Alfred perceived the falling standards of literacy. Need for renewal of learning by translating more works into OE à Alfred needed the help of the Church à he called on Wulfstan (York) and Asser (Mercia).
Achievements: o Production of the AS Chronicle o Translation of Pope Gregory’s Cura Pastoralis, which is famous for the accompanying letter of Alfred to the bishops, outlining his plans for educational reform.
o Translation of other Latin texts into E. e.g. Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Alfred’s reason for his translation program was the gral ignorance of Latin. He was a codifier of law, a promoter of education and a supporter of the arts. He was a scholar himself, and translated some texts into OE.
• 10th c: Reigns of Edgar and Aethelred the Unready: both came to the throne early (Edgar 16, Ethelred 11). They had to rely on advisors à ecclesiastical power + important. This period coincided with the Benedictine Reform: monastic revival in Europe.
• Edgar appointed 3 Benedictine monks (Aethelwold, Dunstan, Oswald), who were excellent advisors. Political stability à flowering of culture and education. Dunstan: important for monastic movement. Aethelwold: important also from a linguistic point of view ß produced a series of linguistically regular and consistent manuscripts. 1st evidence of written standard E. Very important for the history of E but didn’t survive the NC.
• This early classical OE standard has no connections with the standard lgge developed from the 15th c. PDSE does NOT develop directly from WS standard. Aethelwold translated Latin texts and also produced originals. His pupil Aelfric, a very prolific scholar: wrote Catholic homilies, lives of saints, and a grammar of Latin for his pupils and translators. From a lgc point of view Aelfric’s writings are important for the dvlpt of WS standard. ß consistent lgge. His work came to be used as reference throughout the country.
• This standard continued to be used during Aethelred’s reign and after, sts modified to local tastes and needs.
• Remember video: the lgc situation changed only slowly after the NC, but the NC caused a drastic change in ecclesiastical life. William of Normandy replaced all E bishops by Norman ones à effect on written standard. Norman scribes introduced their own spelling conventions. AngloNorman communities no longer need E texts à production decreases enormously. The norms of the standard lgge quickly faded. Increase of regionalism in spelling.
• mid 12th c: E texts are inconsistent. Rapid orthographic change after the NC (NOT linguistic change); i.e. lgge hasn’t changed much but texts look different due to spelling. Linguistic change was slow and gradual.
Literary History (and implications on linguistic history) PROSE • Earliest scraps of E ß runic inscriptions (OHP) (Ruthwell Cross). Oringin obscure. Used in many Germanic lgges. Used for magical and secret writing.
• AD 650: Introduction of Roman alphabet by Irish monks. Most manuscripts are written in Latin: not much evidence of state of lgge o Epinal Glossary: English/Latin dictionary, some information on lexicon & phonology; little about syntax o Vespasian Psalter Gloss: Interlinear gloss. Guide to morphology, phonology, lexicon, little syntax.
• Alfred’s reform: substantial corpus of OE prose (AS Chronicles, Translations). Long passages of prose à good picture of OE syntax and prose style; most are translations from Latin à influenced by Latin syntax.
However, Alfredian texts are very important to the history of E ß 1st attempts at written literary prose style (before only oral transmission, alliteration, rhythm). AS Chronicles and Alfred’s preface to the Cura Pastoralis: ideas expressed directly in ordinary (Old) English. (unlike translations) • mid 10th c: Much copying of Alfredian texts. Little new material until the establishment of Aethelwold’s school at Winchester. Very fruitful: o Aelfric’s work: elegant & clear writing. Grammar (elementary Latin course. Aelfric chooses OE constructions as the most appropriate equivalents of Latin constructions.
o Wulfstan (Archbishop of York) ‘Sermo Lupi ad Anglos’ o Aldred (North): Contemporary of Aelfric. Religious texts. Interlinear gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels. Interesting because it is a non WS text: shows the consequences of Danish/English influence e.g., ‘he lufes’ (not ’lufath’) • 1066: AS Chronicles continue to be written in some monasteries (until the year 1155). Otherwise, no original production. Only copying.
POETRY • Chronology difficult to interpret. Majority has come to us in 4 manuscripts.
All dated around AD 1000. Compilations of poetry written at different times during the AS period. Product of renaissance associated with monastic revival (Benedictine Reform).
• OE poetic tradition: old. Parallels with other Gmc poetry/ Ruthwell Cross ‘the dream of the rood’: same for in the early 8th c. / Bede’s account of Caedmon: poetry composed in the mid 7th c.
• OE poetry stems from an old oral tradition. Style and form were established long before it adopted a written form.
• Lgge of poetry: different from that found in Aelfric’s manuscripts / tends to share a common poetic dialect /contains archaic forms / combines different dialects especially at the lexical level. Poetry is more conservative, archaic: difficult to know what the lgge was like at a certain state on the basis of poetic works.
Social Structure • Primitive structure. Based on clans.
• Determined by loyalty. Lord: protection; followers: loyalty & service. Semifeudal dependency relations.
• ‘Wergild’ system: compensation for loss of family or clan member.
• Religion: polytheistic. Woden (Odin), Tiw, Thor (Donar), Frey… • Christianization has a civilizing tendency. Promotes hierarchical organization. Contributes to the reinforcement of existing kingdoms and government structures.