How old is English?







Imposing your language

As a conqueror this is probably the worst thing one can do. The language situation in ancient Britain cannot be compared with the language situation in for instance, former British India. According to the official version of history, the whole of Britain spoke proto-Welsh. One language for the whole isle. In India, some 500 languages were recorded. English was in India not imposed as a new language that the local had to use as their daily language, but as a go between language, a language that allowed all Indians to communicate with each other. That is very much the reason why English was maintained in India, although the official language is Hindi.






Anglo-Saxon names

Deducting further, it is unlikely that all of the Anglo-Saxons family names, which later emerged in the old English texts, were of German origin. Many of them must have existed locally since pre-Roman or Roman times. Indeed, in kingdom of Sussex, several Anglo-Saxon dynasties had an typical Welsh name.





How many Anglo-Saxons came over?

The assumption must be that consecutive Anglo-Saxon generations had plenty of time to integrate themselves into the local population. As mentioned, they came initially as 'mercenaries', in fact: professional soldiers, so it would be logical that they learned quickly the language of their masters. Young soldiers also are likely to marry local girls. Later, after allegedly taking over power, it would be commonsense that the knowledge of the local language would help them to maintain that power.

As the new arrivals represented less than 0,50% of the population, they had no time to teach their language to the 99.50% others. More over, there were little or no schools. Imposing their language risked also to upset the local population. Trouble with a local population is always the last thing a professional soldier wants.

You don't need to know the local language when you conquer a country. However, maintaining power locally is very different and requires a good knowledge of the local language. It's all about gathering information, detecting a possible insurgence.

Rome had the standard policy to relay heavily upon the local authorities to uphold its power locally. Most native authorities were left in place after the conquest and if necessary, their power was even enforced. In return, Rome demanded from the local upper-class absolute loyalty. If a rebellion occurred, it were always the leaders of that rebellion who were severely punished. This policy allowed the Romans to maintain very little occupation forces. The group of people that had to be watched was indeed very small.
The Romans never replaced the local upper-class by their own.

Suppose that the Anglo-Saxons would have replaced the British upper-class. This would have cost them an immense military effort. In fact, a bigger effort than the Romans themselves were able to perform. Let alone that the Anglo-Saxons were able to impose their language op top of that.

Most Anglo-Saxons must have been young and eager warriors, so one can imagine the impact upon the local girls. The Roman historian Tacitus already mentioned in 98 AD (“Germania”) as a curiosity, that the Germans had a great respect for their women. Who believes then that the local women were forced to speak the tongue of their lovers? Logically, the Anglo-Saxons would have sought some allies locally, and the local women and their family (soon to be in law) must have been the obvious choice. This means that it would be the alleged invaders who had to learn the local language.

The eventual emerging new families were in reality very (east-)British all but in name.

According to official history, the Anglo-Saxons seemed to need quite some time to conquer the whole of (modern) England. More than 150 years. This contrasts with the swift conquests by the Romans earlier, and by the Normans later. The reality was that the Anglo-Saxons themselves did not conquer England and certainly not Welsh West England. Their British lords (=rich landowners) had this ambition. Those lords wanted to consolidate their authority at home first, and then start an expansion to the Welsh west. All this with the help of Anglo-Saxons. As soon as the lords had integrated some high ranking Anglo-Saxon officers within their families, they took over the label "Anglo-Saxon", "Saxon", "Angles" or similar.

The limited quantity of Anglo-Saxons soldiers is the main reason for the very slow expansion towards West England. One can estimate that at no given moment the number of native, German, Anglo-Saxon warriors exceeded 3000 men. Maintaining power with a such a small quantity of warriors is not easy. Luckily, England was much divided. This division was the result of the increased power of the local lords thanks to the hiring of Anglo-Saxon soldiers. The 'Anglo-Saxon' kingdoms could only expand their power after the local mentality had changed in favour of the 'German' mentality (= duty, loyalty, respect for authority).

The Anglo-Saxons never had the ambition to impose their language upon the local population. This was not their task. The gain was very limited, the risk to upset the locals great. Their task was maintain 'law and order', read : to uphold the authority and power of their British masters. The Anglo-Saxons became British housecarls.