"I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact."
Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Structural Study of Myth

Left: map, queried, from Wikipedia [Angles], 2007. Right: map, modified, from Clark Hall, 1911
hypotheses, one hundred years apart

Gothonic or Old Scandinavian

According to Wikipedia: "Proto-Norse (also Proto-Scandinavian, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Ancient Nordic, Old Scandinavian, Proto-North Germanic and North Proto-Germanic) was an Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is thought to have evolved as a northern dialect of Proto-Germanic over the first centuries AD. It is the earliest stage of a characteristically North Germanic language, and the language attested in the oldest Scandinavian Elder Futhark inscriptions, spoken ca. from the 2nd to 8th centuries (corresponding to the late Roman Iron Age and the Germanic Iron Age). It evolved into the dialects of the Old Norse language at the beginning of the Viking Age about AD 800."

Between 1929 and 1933 Gudmund Schütte, a Dane, wrote a book entitled Our forefathers: The Gothonic nations: A manual of the ethnography of the Gothic, German, Dutch, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian and Scandinavian peoples.

Try The Viking Legacy, by John Geipel, David & Charles 1971. Geipel's book is accessible and enlightening, and I have more in common with its author than might be suspected. He employs Schütte's term "Gothonic" for the Proto-North Germanic or North Proto-Germanic tongue presumed to have arisen in the early Iron Age, and suggests, following Feist and certain other authorities, that it began as a kind of mongrel "pidgin-Celtic", a mélange of linguistic elements from east and west, perhaps resembling present-day Swahili in its genesis. (Pp. 8 & 16).

What a pity Dr Beard's letter, left, refers only to "Early English", and not that sillier term "Old English". As he rightly points out, in the rest of his letter, English didn't even begin to exist until the advent of Piers Plowman and Chaucer. The use of "English", of any sort, Early or Old, to describe the language of any of the peoples of Britain prior to these two is, quite simply, idiotic.

See here for Dr John Stanley Beard. He was born in 1916. The Australians seem to have been celebrating his 90th birthday, and this encomium was published in September 2006. Clearly a man of eminence and distinction. One that the so-called Anglo-Saxonists would do well to listen to. What is the real reason for the introduction of that gormless misnomer, "Old English" ?

On this page I was intending to tackle the two maps at its head, but I got distracted by thinking about Dr Beard, and finding out a bit more about him. Also I was going to look more closely at what Schütte and Geipel had to say about Gothonic. which I don't think is quite the right term for the BC language in Britain. Better than Oppenheimer's "English", though. If Gothonic or Old Scandinavian would not have been what the people themselves would have thought of themselves as speaking, what about Anglian ?

Let's start with the maps, and the original homeland of the Angles, who wandered into Britain, apparently in a succession of waves over many years, starting perhaps in about 6,000 BC. In about 730 AD the Venerable Bede wrote that the country called Anglia lay between the provinces of the Jutes and the Saxons. Presumably Simeon of Durham was following Bede, when he wrote that Sceaf was received by the natives of the country called Old Angeln, which is "situated between the Saxons and the Goths". Neither Bede nor Simeon would have had Mercator's projection in mind, which makes it more likely that the Angles actually occupied the area outlined on the modified right-hand map. Goths are Geats, and Geats are Jutes. All writers are extremely uncertain as to where the Angles actually came from, which is why I draw attention to their disegard of Ängelholm, spelled Engelholm until the clumsy and misleading Swedish spelling reforms of the early 20th century.

A Swedish note on the place-name Ängelholm states that: "namnet, som finns upptecknat i formen Engelholm år 1516, lär inte ha något med änglar att göra, inte heller med engelsmän (som ibland hävdats). I stället kan det vara ett gammalt ord ængil med betydelsen "krökning" eller förträngning, jämför tyskans eng = "trång" och engelskans angle = "vinkel", syftande på en krök av Rönne å. Det kan också vara ett uppkallandenamn - på södra Själland finns en herrgård med samma namn. Stavningen Engelholm levde kvar fram till den allmänna stavningsreformen 1912." This note rejects any link with Britain, although admitting that this has sometimes been claimed. Instead it suggests some association with "narrow", or "crooked", like the hook at the end of an angler's fishing-line. Between Elsinore and Helsingborg the Sound is indeed narrow, with Engelholm just around the corner. It seems to me just as likely that the Engles came from Engelholm as from Angeln, a small, elusive place in Denmark.

And what about Maglemosian ? Maglemosian, c.9000 BC - 6000 BC, is the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in North Europe. The name originates from the Danish archeological site Maglemose,.

There the first settlement of the culture was excavated in 1900, by George Sarauw. A long series of similar settlements were excavated from England to Poland, and from Skåne in Sweden to northern France.

The Maglemosian people lived in forest and wetland environments, using fishing and hunting tools made from wood, bone, and flint microliths. It appears that they had domesticated the dog. Some may have lived settled lives, but most were nomadic.

This map, left, post-6,000 BC, omits Doggerland, where Maglemosians must have lived. Note the Proto-Germanics, in red, emerging from the Balkans. See here.

The relationships between the so-called Germanic languages has to be of an intricacy which the traditional trees of linguistic descent do not begin to address. A study of these languages might start with The Language of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions; A Linguistic and Historical-Philological Analysis, by È.A.Makaev, first published in 1965. This work was translated into English from the original Russian by John Meredig, and published in 1996 by Kungl. Vitterhets Historia och Antikvitets Akademiens Handlingar, Filologisk-filosofiska serien 21. A prefatory note remarks: "Language barriers among linguists are more durable than the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall (Anatoly Liberman, "Scandinavian phonology", Scandinavian Studies 66: 232-3 [1994])." I admit to not having yet mastered Makaev's intensely learned 123 pages, and maybe never will, but suspect that many works commenting on Germanic linguistics prior to 1996 can be relegated to the back shelf. I adhere to a belief that any practical mind with an interest in probing the sense of Anglo-Saxon texts will find that entry via Scandinavia will recover more meaning than lugging along the ball and chain of modern English. Converting words and phrases into modern Scandinavian cognates (in my case, Swedish) causes Anglo-Saxonist cruces to softly and suddenly vanish away.

Tree of Knowledge
William Blake envisions Eden's tree, and Doré's Münchausen rises from the mire, by his pigtail
Does man descend or ascend from his past?


an irrelevant interpolation

"a symbol or paradigm of the working of the human mind"
from The Glorious and Bloody Game, by Arthur Koestler

þæt he gewyrce ær he on weg scyle
fremum on foldan wið feonda niþ
deorum dædum deofle togeanes



My fellow man I do not care for
I often ask me what he's there for
The only answer I can find
Is reproduction of his kind
Ogden Nash

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