How old is English?


[1] They also used frequently a short sword called 'sax' . However, the word for this weapon is derived from the region and not the other way around.

[3] It is clear that the name Ingweoon was chosen as was supposed that English was imported from northern-Germany. The set of tribes corresponds more or less with the 'tribes' that formed the Anglo-Saxons. They were the farmers people. 'Inge' was the German god of agriculture. 'Weone' means 'to live', inhabit. Ingweoon: where Inge lives.


The supposedly closest languages are not the closest

The Saxons came from Sachsen (Saxonia) in Germany. Their name is probably derived from Old High German sahha, 'battle', thing, sake. The Saxons were known to their southern neighbours as warriors. This would then correspond with the meaning of German: 'gear (spear) man' or man-in-arms. [1]

The Angles came from the south of Denmark , a region called today Schleswig-Holstein. The name is derived from 'ang, eng' which means 'narrow' and refers to the south of the Danish peninsula. In Britain, the name Saxons was used for all raiders (later called Vikings). According to official history the Frisian language should be the closest language to English. Nevertheless, it's not, although multiple attempts were made to prove the link. Moreover, no linguistic link between continental Germanic languages and the various Old English dialects could be proven. It is not so that in e.g. East Anglia the local Old English is the closest to the sort of Germanic in Schleswig-Holstein, where the Angles came from. The same applies to Wessex, Sussex, Essex where the German Saxons were supposed to have settled: no typical link with Saxonia in Germany could be proven.

Some say that the Fries also contributed to the alleged conquest of Britain. But only one Byzantine source mentions that. The Byzantine scholar Procopius, writing c. 565 in his Gothic Wars (Book IV, Ch 20), wrote that Britain in his time was occupied by three peoples: Angles, Fries and Britons. He added that his information came from an informant, likely a member of a Frankish delegation to the court at Byzantium, and did not assert the information as fact. [here in Wiki] Note that Procopius does not mention Saxons in Britain! Anyhow, as nobody speaks about Anglo-Fries, the quantities of Fries soldiers must have been very limited in Britain, certainly not numerous enough to influence the language.

Fact is that the very first Old English texts show no sign of a compromise language, although that was to be expected. The name 'Anglo-Saxon' itself predicts the emergence of a compromise, go-between language. But no. The Old English texts are from the very beginning, very early on, different from each other, although it is not difficult to demonstrate the attempts of the monks to create one single written language, with Latin as their great example in mind.

Dutch vs West Flemish

Officially, the closest language to (official) English is (official) Dutch. General Dutch is a compromise language between several distinct dialects and its sublanguages such as West-Flemish, Limburgian and Frisian. It is a recent standard (1637 AD). Frisian is a part of the Dutch language group, but considered a separate language. The Frisian language is announced to be the closest language to English. There is however another candidate to that: West Flemish. Friesland borders Germany and originally stretched beyond that border. The attempt to link the Frisian language to English was clearly induced by the close location of Friesland to Sachsen and the alleged fact that the Fries took part in the Anglo-Saxon migration. In other words: it fits the official theory. Insidious studies tried to prove a close link between the Frisian language and English. The Fries people never were genuine Germans, and are proud of that. It is unlikely that Frisian was the greatest contributor to Old English.

Frisian is not easy to learn, not for the Dutch, not for Germans. It's an unlikely candidate for a compromise language.

In fact, another language is also very close to English : West Flemish. This language is still locally spoken today (Bruges, the Belgian coast, Ieper, Kortrijk). This language is considered to be a dialect of general Dutch and is an important fraction of the Dutch language group. The UNESCO and European Union consider it a separate language, similar to Frisian. It was once more widely spread. The coast of Flanders (Belgium) is also the geographically the closest to the English southeast coast. Nearby Calais (France), and the region around it, was until the late Middle Ages Flemish territory.

The relation with English can be illustrated as follows:

W. Flemish English
dinne thin
pit pit
hille hill
(old) goes goose
(old) hawe haw, hawthorn, hedge
stief steep
stieren to steer
zocht soft
beuter butter
us us
sc(h)reemen to scream
kobbe cobweb

Another characteristic is that the West-Flemish people often cannot pronounce the 'h'. That is similar to many English Dialects. A soft 'g' is pronounced as an 'h' in West-Flemish. In Bruges there is a street called Goezeputstraat, which is pronounced Hoose-pit-stroate. In the southwestern part of West Flanders there is a city called Diksmuide. 'Dik' is 'dig' and refers to a dyke, actually a dugout trench to drain water. 'Muide' is mouth. In English Diskmuide would be 'dyke's-mouth'. The word for 'muide' is in General Dutch 'monde', as in Dendermonde where the tributary Dender joins the Schelde. I can go on like that. In the same region a 'school' is pronounced 'scole'. Shoes there become 'scoe-en'. Etc.

It is no coincidence that both languages, Frisian and West-Flemish are close to English as the three have the most Ingweoon [3] characteristics. Ingweoon was a name for a set of northern German tribes (a subdivision of Germany) and was reported by the Roman historian Tacitus.

Today, Frisian and West-Flemish are separated by some 300 km. But it is known that once upon a time very similar dialects were spoken along the Dutch coast. In the Middle Ages, the West-Flemish language was spoken from slightly to the south of Boulogne-sur Mer (northern France) and strechted up to Den Helder, the most northwest place in Holland.

West-Flemish language zone
Medieval situation of the West-Flemish language

Ingweoon is also called coastal German. So, it's no coincidence that English is also called Ingweoon. Explaining this by stating that the language 'simply' was imported from northern Germany is not sufficient. The very presence of West Flemish near the narrowest part of the English channel indicates an other possibility.

This is the welcome text in Frisian upon the main page of the Fryske Wikipedia: (English in brackets)

Wolkom (welcome) by de Fryske Wikipedy!.
Ynformaasje op (upon) Wikipedy is frij en fergees te brûken.
Eltsenien is frij (free) om ynformaasje (information) ta te foegjen (to add) en te feroarjen, dêrom jout de wikipedy gjin garânsjes foar de krektens fan de ynformaasje dy't jo fine. As jo sels kennis op hokfoar mêd dan ek diele wolle mei oare Friezen, dan kinne jo dy hjir spuie! Fragen en opmerkings kinne jo kwyt op de oerlisside. De Fryske Wikipedy hat op it stuit 4.143 siden.

This is a similar text in West Flemish:

Welgekomn (welcome) ip (upon) den West-Vlamschn Wikipedia die nog olsan stief zêre an 't groein es: der zin ol 1,158 artikels en me zin nog lange nie tènn oasem. Wikipedia es e project dat de bedoelinge eit in iedre toale ne vriejn (free) en neutroaln encyclopedie te schrivn. Olleman meugt hêlegans vo niet'n informoasje ipzoek'n, toevoegn (to add) of bewerk'n*. Ge moe nie benauwd ein vo 'n twadde te verandern of derbie te zett'n, ge kunt gerust e kêe probeern in de zanbak.

For a native English speaker any resemblance with English will seem strange. But English has adopted for centuries thousands of French words, while both languages above avoided the use of French.

*->Olleman meugt hêlegans vo niet'n informoasje ipzoek'n, toevoegn of bewerk'n.
-> All-men may wholly for nothing information up-seek, (to) add or work (on it).

Everybody may search information for free, add or alter.

The mystery of Frisian

The resemblance between Old Frisian and Old English is striking. Yet, as far as we know, the Fries played but a minor role in the Anglo-Saxon times in Britain, if any. In fact, one can have serious doubts about the alleged presence of Frisian during the early Anglo-Saxon epoch.

Bede wrote:
This island at present, following the number of the books in which the Divine law was written, contains five nations, the English, Britons, Scots, Picts, and Latins, each in its own peculiar dialect cultivating the sublime study of Divine truth.
No mention of Frisians. Note that with 'Britons' was understood since the Middle Ages : Brythonic speaking natives. We state that it were natives indeed, but not Brythonic speaking. Most spoke proto-English. In reality Bede's five nations were: Anglo-Saxons + the native upper-class, native proto-English Briton farmers, Irishmen, Scots and the Latins were the clergy and intellectuals. Either Bede seems to make no distinction between the Welsh and proto-English Britons or he meant 'all tenant farmers', all landless commoners. Another possibility is simply that Wales and Cornwall were not within his horizon.

Given the expansion of the Fries kingdom during the sixth century, it is well possible that this Frank generalized all populations to the north of the Rhine as Fries and that is including the Saxons. So, if Fries were among the Anglo-Saxons, then their quantity must have been very limited.

Although there is ample evidence that Frisians were present in Britain as Roman auxiliary troops, there is, however, no proof that the Frisians participated in the alleged conquest of Britain after the fall of the Empire. At best we can state that Frisians were present in Britain during the Anglo-Saxon period. Actually, given their nearby homeland, it would be odd if there were completely absent in Britain. The idea that they were the ones who formed Old English is therefore too far fetched. But how comes then this strong resemblance?

The answer lays in a similar creolisation of the northern Maglemosian zones to the north of the Frisians and of the southeast Britons and a virtual identical feed-back southward. In other words: the final stage of the language transition happened in both cases (South Britain and South Denmark) in very similar circumstances.

creolisation + feed back

It is unlikely that agriculture came from Friesland. But it is very conceivable that Flemish farmers crossed the English Channel and imported agriculture there.

English was recently said to be an Scandinavian language ( No wonder. The influence of the former Maglemosian north was longer lasting in Britain than on the Continent. Proto-West-Flemish was much more supported by the continental variants of Germanic. Southern proto-English lacked this support. Frisian eventually also underwent the influence of German and Dutch.

Note that this also demonstrates that Germanic could never have originated in Scandinavia. The presentation of the origin of Germanic in the Wikipedia article is therefore false.