How old is English?
Two languages emerge in Britain
Around 8000 BC, Azelian tribes who originated from southern France or northern Spain, colonized most of
Doggerland (the North Sea) and Britain. Only the very north of Doggerland was (because of the steadily rising water)
occupied by northern Maglemosians. They remained on what became rapidly an island for about 2000 years. The presence of a
northern Maglemosian language is required because of the occurrence of the form 'are' of the verb 'to be'. This form is found
only in the modern Scandinavian countries, in modern Britain and in one of the oldest PIE languages - the now extinct Hittite
language. We think that the 'are' form is very old PIE indeed since it occurs only on the periphery of Europe.
We assume that northern Maglemosian was a strongly divergent dialect of Maglemosian. We suppose that
mainstream Maglemosians could barely understand northern Maglemosian. As agriculture advanced, Maglemosian changed into
proto-Germanic. Northern Maglemosian resisted longer but eventually changed into proto-Germanic too. However, it kept some
archaic features of PIE, which were present earlier in Maglemosian, such as the 'are' form of 'to be'. The northern variant
of proto-Germanic was the product of a secondary creolization.
When the ice melted for the last time at the beginning of the Holocene (± 8000 BC) the sea level rose.
Azelian and northern Maglemosian people, who lived on the North Sea plain, were eventually forced to move to higher ground:
to the modern coastal regions of the North Sea. Some of them settled in the east of Britain.
South North Sea Azelians moved more to the south, to the Low Countries and southeast Britain. Much later,
their language would be replaced by proto-Germanic with a 'sind' form of 'to be' and gave birth to a different sort of
Germanic, now known as
The northern Maglemosians (8000-4000 BC) remained on a northerly latitude. A number of them settled in the
northeast of England and in the Midlands. Their language would change later into Scandi-proto-English.
Language situation in 6000 BC. British northern Maglemosian slowly diversified from Scandinavian Maglemosian. The coming of agriculture and proto-Germanic will change all these languages.
Note that proto-Germanic came earlier than proto-Brythonic.
The Azelian region stretched from the Pyrenees up to the North Sea. Azelian was a non-PIE, pre-agricultural
language. Around 5000 BC, in the north, Azelian came under pressure from neighbouring proto-Germanic, the new agricultural
language of the north. The Germanic branch of PIE was introduced together with agriculture around 5000BC, first in the north
(Moselle valley / Luxembourg). Several centuries later the Occitan-Roman (Italic) branch of PIE was introduced in the
south of Europe (east Italy). The south-east Azelians adopted agriculture from the Occitan-Roman speakers and took over in
the process their language. In this region, the local variant of Azelian creolized into Ligurian, now a PIE language.
Brythonic creolized (primary creolization) in the southwest of Portugal, moved to the north along the
coast to reach the northwest of Spain and all Atlantic coasts in the north, including west Britain. Brythonic developed
probably fully on the French Atlantic coast and in Brittany, from where it was re-exported back, during the Celtic period, to
the north of Spain and Portugal (language feedback).
The Brythonic speakers settled first on the Atlantic coasts and from there began their slow migration inland.
At the same time, Germanic speaking farmers moved to the sea. Archaeology confirms that central France was very late in
Slowly the Azelian language around the North Sea coasts and down to the Seine river faded out in favour of Germanic. In 'France', south of the Seine, it was gradually replaced by Brythonic, where it became para-Brythonic. We hypothesize that Para-Brythonic was a mixed language, based upon Brythonic but with Azelian, Italic, Occitan and abundantly Germanic words. Compare this with modern English, a language based upon Germanic, but with half its vocabulary consisting of foreign, mainly French words. The reason for that mix is that central France was the last region to be reached by the farmers. Para-Brythonic was the result of a secondary creolization of Brythonic by the former Azelian speakers in central Gaul, Switzerland and a tiny part of northern Italy (south slopes of the Alps). 'Pure' Brythonic, the primary creolization was exported to Britain. In Gaul it became gradually confined to Brittany (Bretagne).
Germanic and Brythonic grew toward each other, eventually squeezing out Azelian completely. The process
needed an approximate 1000 years. The Germanic language probably reached its most southern expansion in northern France
around 2000 BC. Basque was gradually pushed to the southwest. We believe that it was also around 2000 BC, at the height of
the Bronze Age, that place-names ceased to be varying landscape descriptions and became much more fixed, real names.
Para-Brythonic gradually re-expanded to the north in France, pushing Germanic back to the north. By the time
Julius Caesar arrived, the language border had reached the Somme region. An etymological study of ancient place names to the
north of Paris revealed a German origin for many of them.
Only the south (the Côte d'Azur) kept its Ligurian language (now a part of Occitan) for a longer time.
Occitan expanded further to the west and pushed Brythonic back to the northwest. Basque lost gradually most of its territory.
The English and Dutch languages (including Frisian) are called coastal Germanic. Their preceding or substrate
language was Azelian, not Maglemosian as in Germany. The Azelian background of coastal Germanic is responsible for the
introduction of many substrate words in proto-Germanic such as 'dune', 'ice' and more.