From The Origins of the British: a genetic detective story, 2006.


More thoughts on tackling Stephen Oppenheimer's interesting book, The Origins of the British: a genetic detective story, 2007.

To be frank, and with respect, Oppenheimer's substantial tome confuses me. This may be my fault. I find it crammed with erudition, but muddled. It asks many questions, but does it offer answers ? Its organisation could be more reader-friendly, in the parlance of our times. My apologies to Stephen Oppenheimer.

My text reads: "Didn't the Angles come from Scandinavia ?"

I cannot understand the present-day Anglo-American desire to refer to any language spoken in pre-Roman Britain as English, early, old or late. This word, English, derives from the Angles or Engles, of Scandinavia, who are not supposed to have arrived until after the Romans left, in 410 AD.

If a non-Celtic language was being spoken in most of the area of Britain east of modern Wales, then the evidence seems indisputable that it was Old Scandinavian, the same language as that then spoken in Denmark and southern Sweden. The centre of this linguistic region could hardly have been other than Engelholm.

Stephen Oppenheimer's map, posted above, deserves comparison with the maps on this website: here. How Old is English ? Good Question. But not answered, imho. Speculated upon. The site discusses the Azelian and Maglemosian languages, as also the Kongemose and Maglemose cultures. These do not feature at all in Oppenheimer's book.

12,000 BC and 8,000 BC.
Maps and comments repeated from
How Old is English ?

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 coastal Germanic or Ingvaeonic Germanic.
Maglemosian (8000-5000 BC) probably originated from the regions of the Black Sea and might have been a language evolution of the ancestor of PIE, mixed with non-PIE substrate words. PIE emanated from the shores of the Black Sea.
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.

An article entitled The Continental Homelands of the Anglo-Saxons, appeared in the Contemporary Review of December 2002, Vol 281, No 1643. Its author was Mr David Burns. Burns notes that "historians appear to dismiss, or not wish to pursue" the connection between Swedish and Anglo-Saxon. Mr Burns concludes his essay by remarking of Beowulf that "the language of the poem itself, even at its late stage of writing, contains words still more recognizable in modern Swedish, than in modern English". Hear ! Hear !

A study of the "Germanic" languages might start with The Language of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions; A Linguistic and Historical-Philological Analysis, by ╚.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).

Engelholm ?         Oresund ?

"Holm", as in eg Stockholm, or Engelholm, means a little island, possibly a knoll. It does not mean "sea" under any circumstances. "Sund" is cognate with "sunder", meaning "to tear apart". It is an area where the land has been torn asunder, to let in the sea. The word has nothing to do with "swimming". Öresund is the stretch of water between Hamlet's Elsinore and Helsingborg.


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