Keltic (Celtic) element in English language

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       What language did the Anglo-Saxons who settled in Britain find on their arrival ? Pogatscher held that Brito-Roman dialect was in use. But this view was rejected by Loth who believed that Latin never was the national language of Britain and Latin disappeared with the withdrawal of Roman troops.


Keltic elements are distributed in place-names and the frequent occurrence of Keltic personal names among the Anglo-Saxons.
Keltic chat


      On their arrival, Anglo-Saxons found a people speaking a different language. Gardiner thought that Keltic influence persisted in the English language in such words as gown or curd, cast or pony words used by women and agriculturists. But not a single word of those cited can prove anything of the kind. Gown is not an old Keltic word but was taken over from French in the 14th century; Curd also dates from the 14th century; Cast is probably a native English word, and Pony from old rench poulenet.

      Very few, words passed over into English from the British aboriginals. How to account for it ? Jesperson has discounted the total extermination of Britons. Keltic elements are distributed in place-names and the frequent occurrence of Keltic personal names among the Anglo-Saxons. The Britons were not exterminated but absorbed by their Saxon conquerors. A general consideration of the conditions under which borrowing takes-place will give the clue to the mystery. First, the Anglo-Saxons were conquerors and hence it is quite likely that the language of the conquerors should be imposed upon the conquered. Keltic language was also an inferior language and. the conquerors would not, therefore, take pains to learn it.

      Secondly, it is not a foreign language that a nation learns that it turns into a mixed language, but its own native language is mixed under the influence of the foreign language. When we try to learn and talk a foreign language we do not intermix it with words taken from our own language. We try to keep it pure-pure of any intermixture with the words of native language. We generally feel tempted to interlard our native language with foreign words which we learn. The smallness of Keltic words is thus explained by language being inferior to English language.

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