Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Poems missing from the record

Poems missing from the record


The posting on Spender elsewhere on this site discusses Spender’s complex and highly motivated rebuilding of his poetic record, with the 1985 Collected being an especially fragile and minimal version, which quite probably leaves out half of his published poetry. The possibility of 'rigging the past to fit alliances and positions in the present' is on the pitch somewhere, although I would emphasize that there are many other possibilities. Anyway, if you cut part of the written record the reasons why you do it are inherently not in the record, and any reasons you offer are subject to suspicions of being just as heavily edited as the texts themselves.

I thought to talk about 'missing texts' because it is a natural extension of talking about 'missing poets', which has been my main topic as a historian.

Spender's two Collecteds leave out his verse play 'Trial of a Judge' and his long poem 'Vienna'. Given the small extent of his Collected (and what survives in it), these texts are important for any historical understanding of Spender’s achievement. However, the 'authorised' version also leaves out quite a few poems from Ruins and Visions and Poems of Dedication.

My feeling is that Spender spent a great deal of his life preventing the truth about who he really was from coming out, and re-editing his poems was part of this. This is hardly separable from his reform of his own early communist position - the god that failed, quote - and this is one of the most courageous and conscious aspects of his career. How can you convict all the others of being totalitarian cat's-paws and then go on to criticise Spender for rethinking everything and repenting and outspokenly attacking dictatorship, concentration camps, and the whole package? Would we admire someone so "conscious" that they stuck to the positions they grabbed at the age of eighteen and totally ignored the passage of history and such unpoetic things as events? Personally I find Spender one of the most sympathetic poets of the whole 20th century.

Anyone setting out to recover the history of modern British poetry is going to be faced with the possibility that, besides the poets whose names you don't know, the Collecteds you gather up by the well-known names have been reconstructed to suit the central official position (that is, the position of conformist oppressive smugness which denies its own existence). If you just look at the final version, vetted by all the bureaucrats, you may completely misunderstand the course of events.

One view is that poets as they get older come to identify with the bourgeoisie and experience a greater anxiety at not conforming. They come to know their patrons and to realise that they are the same people they are attacking. Another is that older poets reject their own work out of pure and elevated aesthetic concerns, so that the poems they keep are the better ones. When I started out in this business, I was being told that compromise was the ideal, that I should idealise Auden because he was totally compromised and this was the distilled wisdom of the ages. This was in 1972 or 1973.

Over the past five or ten years, the reissue programme of Shearsman and Salt has put into print the vast majority of the recent poetry that I am interested in. Almost perversely, this draws attention to the poets who have not featured in this convulsive resurgence of the past - Martin Thom, Brian Marley, Paul Gogarty, Dunstan Thompson. The effort of gorging on and absorbing all this wonderful material is inevitably going to delay a proper understanding of the whole. With the poets prominent enough to have been given Collecteds, the question of the pressure to conform requires further analysis so that we can know the history of what has been forgotten. My impression is that the group of people involved in the poetry business is cohesive and that they have had a cultural programme which they have been well equipped to translate into a package of actions. The scheme to promote Auden and demote Dylan Thomas is the most prominent of these. Of course it is possible to agree with this sort of central club-room of poetic gossip as well as to disagree with it. If you stick around on the scene you find the past being rewritten in different ways as time flows on.


In 1974, I read in a book by Martin Seymour-Smith about two outstanding ‘documentary poems’ by Charles Madge which had never been printed. They were ‘The Storming of the Brain’ and ‘The Father Found’. In 2008, I was allowed to write the commentary accompanying the first publication of one of these in the Cambridge Literary Review. This was a rare privilege. As the other one was in his 1994 collected/selected from Anvil, they are both ‘out there’ now. As the poems date from circa 1949-50, this was quite a delay. The literary history of that time needs to be rewritten to accommodate them.

Of course a very large proportion of the older poets of interest, I mean before the 1970s, have never been re-published. I only came across this problem when I read Logue's 1959 volume, Songs, which surfaced in North Finchley Library for 50p, in around 1991, and which was the volume which set me off on this project. After reading this really very distinguished book quite a lot, I looked at Logue's retro-selected -and discovered that he had edited away almost everything. There were two even earlier volumes which he had simply eliminated from the official record. We are bound to note that Spender and Logue have one thing in common, that is being prominent political poets - arguably the most distinguished political poets of their respective generations. The ability to react so comprehensively and brilliantly to political events as they were happening may actually be connected to a need to discard poems once the events they reflected or summed up had ceased to be current. Then, the poems disappeared into the same cellar of the recent past as the events they described - and as the political personalities who guided and pretended to interpret those events. Both poets have in common a certain lightness - they genuinely responded to passing events, rather than simply turning out more poems based on their personal and inflexible style modules.

There is something else they have in common. Logue's early volumes, Wand and Quadrant and Devil, Maggot, and Son, were both indebted to the Apocalyptic style. His debut was clearly related to Dylan Thomas and George Barker. So we can guess that the project of recuperating the New Romantic poets is not confined to the period books of the poets who were never republished but also the period books of poets who deleted their own New Romantic poems from the written record. This was a daunting challenge and I am not sure we ever cleared it up altogether. (I think James Keery has written about this somewhere but I am not sure where that essay is available.) The most notable examples were Logue, Spender, Norman MacCaig and Lawrence Durrell. With Durrell, the final Collected reinstates all his New Romantic poems - leaving the first Collected as something slightly suspicious.

I was looking at the current Collected Auden today and find it leaves out one book altogether - The Orators. This book is significant to me as an example of the influence of Lawrence, part of a great line of Lawrence imitation during the 1930s, which sheds light not least on Foray of Centaurs, a book by Joseph Macleod which was never issued during the 1930s and for which I was trying to reconstruct a context, seventy years later. I think it is urgent to read Foray - and Vienna, and The Orators.

Barry MacSweeney was in court, as an apprentice journalist, a school-leaver, at one of the two most famous child-murderer cases of the century. Something like thirty years later, he wrote a book of poems about the redemption of that child. This cannot be published because it is not fictionalised and some of the characters might sue to protect their character.

The list of missing MacSweeney books, actually existing or not, is not short. When I interviewed him, we discussed Pelt Feather Log. I think this was announced by Grosseteste, I can’t really remember. Barry couldn’t remember either whether it had been published or whether he had written it. The ‘pelt feather’ connects, very probably, with the feathers grown by the Irish legendary character Sweeny (Suibhne Geilt) in the tale of Sweeney’s madness (as the word geilt was translated by a Latin writer as ‘volatilis’, i.e. ‘poultry’). Sweeney could fly, hence had a feather pelt. Sweeny was also MacSweeney, by a simple mythical transformation. The image connects with a ‘fetherham’ (pelt of feathers) appearing in a poem by Chatterton and connected (by Barry) to Chatterton’s own soar upwards and fatal fall, another biography appropriated by Barry to show his own life. Bladud (in Geoffrey of Monmouth) also had a flying cloak, soared, and fell on London. This appears in Iain Sinclair’s other version of British myths, which overlaps with Barry’s.

Toad Church definitely does exist, I now have a photocopy of the typescript.

In an issue of Poetry Information, Barry announced a set of projects he was working on. "Black Torch, book 1, a first part of a long projected work, drawing on the political/social activity of Northumberland and Durham miners, will be published by London Pride Editions this autumn. Much of it is in Northumbrian dialect. Book 2, half finished, works around John Martin's diaries -he is the Northumbrian painter- tracts by radical Baptist ministers, and the trial of T. Dan Smith. Book 3 is planned to be based on tape recordings with residents of Sparty Lea and the Allen Valley in Northumberland." For Black Torch, there is only ‘Book 1’, as published, and Book 4, which is the elegy to his grandfather published in the new british poetry and elsewhere. I am not sure any of the others actually got written, as we discussed this when I interviewed him in 1995. 'Other works include a series of poems on 1950s British B movies and a sequence of stories about working as a reporter in Newcastle and elsewhere.' - also unknown and perhaps unwritten. I have just been reading The British B Film, by Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane, a strange and moving work which probably goes as deep into that lost world as anyone ever will. They watched 500 of these films and have surely resurrected whatever is living and breathing from that lower depth of cinematic banality. One of the typical characters of those ‘supporting films’ is the journalist, and it’s possible that this was Barry’s identification figure. Of course this was the trench-coated investigative journalist uncovering crimes; this works if you see British society as based on crime, and a whole range of Barry’s poems can be seen as ‘fearless exposés’ describing the crimes of the ruling elite against the mass of the population. The story of T Dan Smith was presumably the great story of Barry’s career, although he chose not to write down what he knew. Smith’s rise and fall may make him the original source for the Chatterton figure in Barry’s personal myth.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Speculation in Palaeolinguistics: file B - further information

Speculation and error correction in Palaeolinguistics; file B - further information

See the essay of this title on this website for the main arguments. Numbers relate to points in the main essay.

3: Northumbrian and Celtic
The extended Northumbrian manuscripts post-date the arrival of the Vikings by a few generations, so the 'code breakdown' they show could connect to Scandinavian influence rather than Celtic. Without a cluster of Celtic loanwords to back it up the theory of Celtic substrate influence completely reshaping Northern English looks like a loser.

In Nh., wesa wosa is the word for 'to be'. This shows the loss of final n.
The link with Celtic looks rather unlikely to me as the loss of -n is also found in Frisian and North Germanic, so that the evolution of the morphology looks simply like an isostatic adaptation to the primary event of losing the n. There was presumably no Celtic substrate in Sweden or Frisia. In manuscripts, the form biothun alternates with biothu because the n comes and goes.

A study of Fueckel's monograph (Anglia, 1901) on one Northumbrian text suggests to me that there is an amount of 'morphological collapse' in Northumbrian and that the question of a distinctive linguistic arrangement north of the Humber is quite possible. The point of departure may be the "loss of -n in unstressed syllables" which obviously destroys a large swathe of the inherited Germanic endings both nominal and verbal. I would appreciate an evaluation of this in the round, given that Fueckel’s treatment is monographic and makes no observations at all on system or even on date. He is very thorough and we do notice:
a words with no endings at all, i.e. cases no longer being shown by sounds
b loss and simplification of endings (which had been based on the vanished ns)
c alternations of forms e.g. with -n and with the -n missing (loss of interest in case endings?)
d loss of distinction between different vowels (once the -n has disappeared) which F interprets as them being 'Murmellaute' so that the ending is only an indistinct vowel and again there is levelling of quite different endings

But what does this mean? a bad scribe? a stable spoken language in which realisations of words varied from minute to minute? a system in decay? degradation by copying of an older text which was much more consistent? It is regrettable not to know.

It may well be that the Vikings destroyed all the manuscripts in the North as part of their cultural programme, but in any case the lack of Northumbrian writings predating the Vikings makes the whole ‘Celtic substrate’ thing shaky and speculative.

The Finns add English dialect material, names of places and rivers etc., to increase the amount of Celtic loanwords. They do not seem to realise that if you double the sample you have to double the amount of positive results, or else you have not increased the percentage share of loanwords found. Much of their effort seems futile. The revisits to words of very shaky and questionable etymology points in the same way. Five very bad etymologies have as much weight as one good one. The conclusion is that they are biased, they prefer one conclusion to all others and are selecting material which fits in with it. I find this problematic. Meanwhile the presentation of evidence is plodding and very often frustrating and unpersuasive.


3a The legacy position is that there is no trace in English dialects of speech variations in the pre-migration homeland. However, we find that the loss of -n in the infinitive is found in Scandinavia, in Frisia, and also in the northern dialect in England. Obviously Scandinavia is, equally, to the north of the core Germanic speech area. So the idea that Northumbrian has no connection with Scandinavia and that its Anglian settlers did not come from regions further north than the havens from which the migrants to southern England shipped out has some puzzling aspects and may repay a further probe. Indeed, knowledge of early Scandinavian may give the insights needed to unravel the mysteries of Northumbrian language history.

3b Tolkien suggested that Northumbrian bioðun/ biðun (3 Ps Pl of the present of the verb 'to be') was derived from Welsh byddant (the same, although it is a future/habitual tense). This is very interesting. but meaningless in isolation. This is one of the earlier 'breakthroughs' in which Celtic material was detected in Old English. The resemblance is closest in Northumbrian but the Nh is very close to the forms in all other OE dialects. While the paradigm of this verb is chaotic (and so vulnerable to substrate influence?), the b- stem is present in other Gmc languages and is no doubt part of the inherited material (matches f- in Latin fui etc.)


3c There are a number of features shared by Welsh and Gaelic which are puzzling from a strictly Indo-European point of view. These included "the cluster of features comprised by prepositional pronouns, relative verbal forms, polypersonal verbs and initial mutations". An Internet article by Ratka Matasovic (Zagreb) at http://opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2007/1568/pdf/celtic_languages_in_contact.pdf describes an Irish Sea Alliance which gave rise to essential aspects of mediaeval Welsh (and Gaelic). Matasovic sees a phase of many bilinguals speaking both languages, making the languages converge. This phase produced features which we see in the modern languages but which were not represent in the ancestral Celtic. They typify ‘Insular Celtic’ (IC). Thus "(1) We know that between ca. 350 A.D. and ca. 550 A.D. there was intensive language contact on the British Isles. British and Goidelic, as already separate languages, as well as Vulgar Latin, and (at least since around 400 A.D. in Eastern Britain) Anglo-Saxon, were all spoken in the British Isles during that period in sociolinguistic conditions favourable to language contact.
2. Common phonological developments show us that those languages influenced
each other, and there is ample evidence for widespread bilingualism, perhaps
even plurilingualism during that period.
3. Several features shared by the IC languages, but absent in other forms of
Celtic and European languages, cannot, for reasons of relative chronology, be
attributed to Proto-Insular Celtic." (Ranko Matasovic, Insular Celtic as a Language Area, 2007)

Thus, Welsh and Gaelic may have been closer together in 700 AD than they were in 0 AD. Also, the Celtic of the Continent may have had none of the features which we are familiar with as linking Gaelic and Welsh. (By Alliance linguists mean a group of different languages which are geographically close and which converge by borrowing due to bilingualism. It translates the German word Sprachbund and the classic case is the Balkan languages. It is the opposite of 'descent' or 'genealogy'.) Matasovic's brilliant paper does not give every detail, but we can take it that the geographical site where this mixing took place would have been along the Atlantic seaboard of Britain: Western Scotland, Cumbria, Lancashire, Wales, and the shores of the Bristol Channel. Gaelic immigration into those areas is very well attested. He says "In Early Britain and Ireland, after the withdrawal of the Roman legions in 410 A.D., the dominant type of bilingualism seems to have been one in which at least Goidelic and British were idioms of roughly equal status. Code-switching must have been frequent, as well as exogamy, with children growing up in mixed marriages speaking early forms of British and Goidelic, and in some cases also Vulgar Latin, equally fluently. This type of situation facilitated the spread of structural features, but not necessarily of lexical material.
There is a vast amount of evidence for the presence of Goidelic-speaking communities in Britain in the period ca. 400-600 A.D. Those communities thrived chiefly in Wales, and, to a lesser extent, in Cornwall, i.e. precisely in those areas where the British languages survived the expansion of Anglo-Saxon. The evidence in question consists of historical records pointing to the immigration of Déisi, an Irish tribe, to Wales, which was facilitated by the weakening of the Roman military presence there in the late 4th century. There are also historical records confirming the existence of Irish kingdoms in Dyfed and Gwynedd in the Early Middle Ages, and the presence of Goidelic-speaking population in Wales is confirmed by the Ogam stones." He also finds it possible that the mixing took place within Ireland (and that P-Celtic groups preceded Q-Celtic in Ireland). (The Goidel did not thrive 'principally' in Wales if the whole of Northern Scotland was taken over by Gaelic-speaking incomers who are still there.) The postulate of an Irish Sea Alliance points logically to a grand-scale distinction between the Celtic speech of the western seaboard and that of what became England, the centre and east. This area is however the group of most interest to the Finns’ theory. It would follow that the only areas which left any written record of their speech, or had heir languages capable of testifying to their nature, are of diminished relevance to the question of how the Celts submerged by the Anglo-Saxons spoke.


6. Vennemann
His version of late prehistory resembles Renfrew's. He takes Hans Krahe's data but demolishing his IE etymologies, he finds in the oldest stratum of river names an 'agglutinating source with initial accent and predominance of A', which is not compatible with IE phonology. He connects these and old place names to Basque.

The Vanir are a 'matrilineal' mythical memento of the Semitic element in W Europe, and seaborne.

The omnibasque theory is incompatible with Palaeolithic Continuity Theory - it casts the IEs as late migrants evidently from a Mediterranean-Aegean homeland.

In the 19th C, linguists noticed that the word 'Basque' corresponded, not only to 'vascones' (now 'Gascon') but also to 'Vosges', the name of a range of hills in Alsace. So they detected a pre-IE language in which something like 'vask/vosk' meant 'mountain' and which called the Basques 'mountain people'. This language was not Basque as the Basques call themselves by a different word, Euskara. So traditional linguistics has no problem with an ancient language being spoken all the way from the Pyrenees to the Rhine, leaving behind a scatter of unusual words. No one really has a problem with this.
'Feasgar' is not an old Gaelic word but a loan from Latin 'vesper'. 'Euskara' does not mean either 'west' or evening', but 'Basque', a people of north-east Spain, so the semantic match with words for 'evening' is bad. I find at least two "west" roots in the accepted IE languages, giving respectively (English) 'west' and 'evening'. I think 'vecher' belongs with 'west, vesper, [W]esperides' and not ucher etc. On the whole, the phonological match is also bad. I am interested by a possible connection between 'Abend, avond, evening' and 'ucher', which would show a velar-labial alternation.
http://www.cls.psu.edu/pubs/pubs/LINGUA1158.pdf



5. Renfrew

(Polythematic) "These terms describe the lack of stem variation in the verb system to produce optative and subjunctive moods. Other features in the monothematic variant are the lack of separate feminine stems of nouns, the lack of a comparative form of adjectives. In fact, the whole idea of temporal strata of the root language."

Other scholars have discussed the resemblances between Hittite and Germanic. The overall shape of the Gmc tense system is similar to that in Hittite and so consistent with being archaic-faithful and so not creolised. This simplicity though represents a shorter features list and so is also compatible with creolisation. Shorter lists may not be structural
resemblances - they are also lists of missing resemblances, I would have thought. The patterns which Feist identified as resembling creolisation cross all features of the language and are not easy to dismiss. Clearly the ‘Hittite=German’ theory is one which gets Germanic off the hook of being creolised. If Germanic represents an older and more pristine version of Indo-European than Latin or Sanskrit, that may also serve a political purpose - in salving the egos of German scholars.

I think both the proposed solutions to this problem - ‘Germanic is Creole’ and ‘Indo-European went through a phase of complexification after Hittite and Germanic had split off from the core’ - are unprovable and suffer from obvious and unanswerable criticisms.

Szemerenyi notes that the consequences of the laryngeal theory have yet to be fully worked out although 100 years had passed since it was first broached by de Saussure. This sheds light on the Renfrew thesis, which after 25 years has not even been fully worked out, let alone evaluated and accepted. Maybe after 90 years it will be finally there with an answer for every language and province, and by that time everyone under 70 will be a follower of Renfrew. I can't categorise this, but the complexity of the evidence seems to be out of all proportion to the number of people qualified to work on it.

8. NWB
I am surprised at the lack of any scholarly follow-up to the major work of Kuhn, Hachmann, and Kossack.
I have the impression that Kuhn did not wish to draw attention to the links between his work and the earlier work of Gysseling, which reached similar conclusions, so that here we also have a lack of continuity: Gysseling does not use the word Nordwestblock and the efforts of Netherlandish scholars do not connect up with parallel work by German scholars. On a more emotional note, Kuhn was simply a great scholar and it is very emotional to handle the four volumes of his collected papers and ponder his originality and scope.
We are bound to ask the question whether the NWB peoples also throve in England - so close for most of history to the Netherlands. I am not aware of any work on this except Pederson, an amateur publishing on the Internet. I found his work interesting but his grasp of Celtic etymology is weak. One would expect the invasion of England by the Belgae, as described by Caesar, to bring linguistic material related to the Nordwestblock, especially if the invasions were in the 4th and 3rd Cs BC and not just in the 1st. I find it very surprising that English scholars have ignored Gysseling’s very credible and careful results on the Belgic language, when the presence of numerous Belgae in England was described already by Caesar and has been accepted by so many archaeologists. It almost looks as if English scholars do not consult work written in Flemish. Yet, the prehistory of the Netherlands must be of great importance to the study of prehistoric England.

Another major line of work on non-Germanic words in NW Europe has been pursued by Eric Hamp. He wrote in particular on the 'pig plough apple' group, referring to three words which are not inherited words in Germanic and so must have been borrowed into Germanic from another language. Hamp's work does not upset Kuhn's but also does not seem to connect to it. Hamp if I am right does not try to tie his word history to a
particular geographical space or to archaeology.

additional questions


11. How in the 4th and 5th Cs do we differentiate the Franks from the Saxons?

Some of the evidence I looked at for point 2 indicated that the Anglo-Saxons did not come from 'towards Denmark' but from the Low Countries, especially what is now Belgium. Okken's powerful summary of the language process in the prehistory of the Netherlands opens, not too explicitly, an exciting question. Were the Franks and the Saxons just two successive collective and functional names for an uninterrupted flow of marauders drawn from the whole Germanic hinterland and funnelling into the vulnerable frontier of the wealthy Roman province? If we could go back to 400 AD would we find any difference - of speech or customs - between Franks and Saxons? Or is it more that they acquired different names based on where they settled and aggregated to territorially bound authorities (compounded from arriviste marauders)?

Old English is either closest to Frisian, or to Old Saxon, or to Old Dutch. Each opinion has some linguists who support it. The evidence is difficult. We normally expect languages to have descent trees in which splits are both reversed. That is, once Italic has split from Old European (let’s say) it does not flow back and fuse with another Old European language. Any language descended from Italic is closer to any Italic language than it is to Greek or German. So Old English too should belong unambiguously with one of these North Sea languages and not the others. However, the classification idea does not work with dialects within a language: you do not say that Yorkshire dialect is closer to Somerset than to Kentish, that is meaningless. The classification depends on clear splits, where an object A is firmly not-B. The problem with the North Sea languages is that they did not split 'properly' - there was intensive exchange around the North Sea, perhaps as late as the 11th century. Cnut's Danish-English kingdom is just a political expression of the links. (Hans Kuhn wrote very persuasively on these sea-spanning links.) Looking for the affinities is a productive task, or it seems so to me. The disagreements are of great interest. Different tests give different results.

Gotthard Lerchner's exceptionally detailed analysis of cognates in Germanic languages around the North Sea starts with about 1300 selected words and then analyses their distribution in these languages in order to give a very close definition of the affinities between those languages. His prized asset is unique pairs, the idea being that where dialects A and B share unique pairs which dialect C does not, then A and B are more closely related to each other than either to C. A word which A and B and C all share is of no geographical value. Lerchner seems to have spent about three years studying a set of 1300 words, a depressing count which also suggests that better results may be reached by pursuing this method, unexhausted because it takes so much time. The dramatic result of Lerchner's work is that Anglo-Saxon is lexically closest to South Netherlands (Flemish, to use another name). That is, the direct ancestors of the English speech community (or, a dominant share of them) were living in Belgium before crossing the Channel. This is unsurprising in geographical terms. The problem (is problem the word?) is that in terms other than lexical English is, notoriously, closer to Frisian, spoken in the northernmost part of Holland (and adjacent parts of Germany and Denmark).

This can be supported by good written evidence for Saxon activity along the French Channel coast, known indeed as the 'Saxon shore'. The trouble is that this is where the Franks are supposed to have been living, after their successful invasion of what is now France, at the same time. Either there were good traffic cops in the Dark Ages, and the two streams of people were kept perfectly separate, or else perhaps there was one big flow of barbarians from the interior of Germany, beyond the frontier, and its constituents became either Franks or Saxons on arrival, becoming subjects to states which were known by those names. We can readily separate Saxon and Frankish dialects a few centuries later, when the territory of the Netherlands had a dividing line between Saxon dialects and Franconian ones (this line runs through the eastern part of the Netherlands still today), but that is not clinching proof that such separation was already there in the 4th century.

I couldn't find a study of the phonological nature of the hundreds of Frankish words in French (taudis ecurie guerre marechal berge trepigner fanfare etc.) so I do not know if they can be differentiated from early English words. Gamillscheg's classic work Romania germanica lists about 700 Frankish words in French, but Lerchner does not give an analysis of these in terms of 'shared innovations'. They are a bounded and specialised list.

O's paper [have forgotten name, sorry] analyses the place-names of the whole north-west Germanic realm and again comes to the conclusion that early English names are closest to the evidence for the Southern Netherlands and Pas de Calais. This matches the zone of Europe where the sea crossing to England is shortest and safest.


12. Frisians
The North Sea Germanic classification problem reveals a flaw in the nineteenth century heritage of Germanic linguistics, widely felt to be one of the most solid and thoroughly researched areas of the whole human sciences. This has to do with the relationship of Anglo-Saxon and Dutch. Thus, in Krahe’s standard university textbook of the Germanic languages, (originally 1942?), AS and Frisian are placed together in one branch of West Germanic, with Dutch in a separate branch. However, a quite different classification is defended in works by Klaas Heeroma and Thomas L Markey, where Dutch is shown as closer to English than Frisian. This affinity of English and Frisian is represented as the product of marginal archaic retention, as waves of innovation give an appearance of unity to spatially central dialects, and spatially marginal dialects miss out on the innovations and thus appear closer to each other only by what they omit. It is genuinely surprising that something so basic could have been missed. I suspect that the German scholars who made almost all the discoveries just weren’t very interested in Frisian or Anglo-Saxon. The Frisian/Saxon unity is known as ‘Ingvaeonic’ after a sentence in Tacitus. Heeroma’s classic paper is ‘Wat is Ingvaeoons?’.

Secondarily, the new research dissolves the Old Saxon/ Anglo-Saxon bond, so that again Old English is closer to Dutch than to Saxon as spoken in Saxony. The change owes much to a revolutionary 1955 paper by Hans Kuhn. The linguistic gap between Old Saxon and Anglo-Saxon suggests that the first English did not set out from Denmark and Saxony, but from the South Netherlands and the Pas de Calais - the ‘litus saxonicum’. They probably lived in Angeln and Saxony at an earlier date, but migrated to the Flanders area as a staging-post and sailed to England from there.

This result provides an explanation of the finding in topic 11 that the Anglo-Saxons came from the south Netherlands and not the North (or from the region between Frisia and Denmark). Heeroma gives powerful reasons for thinking that the whole Netherlands spoke a dialect resembling Frisian in early times, say the 5th and 6th centuries AD; that France, and the Frankish of France, were mighty sources of cultural authority already then (or soon after), and that waves of linguistic influence spread out from there and gradually southernised the Frankish speakers of the regions north of the Meuse; and that this was the origin of the Dutch:Frisian linguistic boundary. Heeroma gives excellent reasons for identifying quasi-Frisian (better: Ingvaeonic) relict features far to the south of what is now Frisia. England, for reasons not hard to identify, was relatively immune to these waves, and so acquired a peripheral and archaic character in relation to the Frankish speech area, which in time left it in the same category as Frisian - although at an earlier stage they were not the most closely related dialects.

The end point of the process was the reduction of bilingual Frankia, in the Seine valley (roughly) to a single language, so that the most prestigious Frankish dialect ceased to be spoken and the most influential part of the Frankish realm came to speak French only. Thus this Latin dialect acquired the name of ‘Frankish’.

If this whole account is right, then Krahe’s textbook is wrong. This suggests that adjustments to the inherited picture of the relation of English to other Germanic dialects of the North Sea area may yet be possible. Heeroma also thinks that Old Saxon is the closest language to Old English - a finding which contradicts Lerchner’s lexical study.

Searching for free material on the Internet, I came across an essay in Frisian which attacked Heeroma very thoroughly on the basis that his views of Ingvaeonic were a derogation from solid Frisian nationalist views.
(NB I rely on the summary in English as my Frisian is nugatory.) The writer was hostile to the idea that Frisia was part of the Netherlands. Thus “The linguist Klaas Hanzen Heeroma (1909-1972) wrote several articles in the thirties and fourties in which he attempted to disprove the existence of Frisian substrate outside the province of Fryslân itself, by means of a clever manipulation of the terms East-Ingweoanic and West-Ingweaonic. In this article, I relate the tenacity with which he held on to those views to his language-political background: as a staunch supporter of the “Groot-Nederlandse” (literally “Great Dutch”) movement, he viewed any attempt to establish a regional linguistic standard as a threat to the unity imposed by the Dutch standard language.“ I believe I am right in saying that Heeroma came from one of the eastern provinces around Groningen, where the language of daily intercourse is a kind of German, and that his first language was one of these Low German dialects (known as ‘Saxon’, sassisch). Much of his work has been on Low German and the history of ‘Saxon’ in the Netherlands, and he edited a magazine which was about synthesizing Low German and ‘oosters’ or ‘sassisch’. 'Istvaeonic' is a term for another alliance of Germanic peoples, in this case specifically the Franks and their language, which includes Flemish and Dutch in our terms.

I realise this is subjective, but speaking personally I thought Frisian would be easy for me, as a native English speaker who has spent a good deal of time reading Anglo-Saxon. Whereas the Frisian I have looked at has been quite puzzling. I found Dutch much easier to learn. Sample of Frisian:
>>Oars as de bêsten fan ‘e ginnerative tradysje hat Heeroma it konseptueel tinken foaral misbrûkt, mei it taalpolitike doel om troch de Fryske taal hinne de Fryske identiteit oan the taasten.<<
(Otherwise than the best of the generative tradition Heeroma mainly misused conceptual thought with the linguistic-political goal of affecting Frisian identity through the Frisian language.)

Phoenicians
Sammes has been taken up by the ‘British Israelite’ movement and there is an extensive body of fringe scholarship on ‘Hebrew-Israelite origins of Europe’, connected to fundamentalist Bible readers. There is a whole literature on supposed Hebrew names in Europe, which is essentially pre-20th century and which I have not explored. ‘Sammes, working on the supposed likeness of British place-names to
Phoenician words, proposed a wholesale colonisation complete with language and religious practices. He argued that Welsh was the surviving form of Phoenician spoken by ancient Britons who had been driven into the mountains by Saxon invaders. The book has illustrations of deities and rituals, many associated with Stonehenge, but absolutely no material evidence.’
(from http://static.royalacademy.org.uk/files/antiquaries-optimised-v6-192.pdf )

Cyrus H Gordon is a recent writer on the dissemination of Semitic languages into Europe (and North America). See Gordon, Cyrus H.: Before Columbus: Links Between the Old World and Ancient America; Crown Publishing, New York 1971.


One of the sites I found by idle internet searching was owned by the ‘Christian White Nationalist Alliance’. Tim McVeigh supposedly had Christian Identity beliefs. The sensibility is a radically white racist development of British Israelitism: >>Where else in the annals of history is there a record of nearly an entire nation suddenly converging on a wilderness? Only the migrations of the Anglo-Saxon-Gothic tribes into early Europe can fit the picture, and that occurred at the very time that Israel was dispersed and became lost to history. The Angles, Saxons, Celts, and Goths, who overspread Europe, are said to have originated in the region of Medo-Persia, about 700 BC, the very time and place in which the nation of Israel was lost to history. The early Christian church noted a remarkable fact: There was a distinct resemblance between ancient Israel’s religion and that of the early inhabitants of Europe. Early Christian writers used the Latin phrase, “Preparacio Evangelica,” meaning that European mythology constituted a good “preparation for the Gospel.” We now know why Norse mythology, Celtic Druidism, and Greek mythology all bear such striking similarities to the Old Testament -- it’s simply because these peoples were the physical descendants of ancient Israelites who migrated to Europe in ancient times, bringing deep-rooted traces of their religion with them when they came.<<
The political line here is straightforwardly to eliminate the Jews from the Bible and its message about history. This is a big issue for certain fundamentalists, who seem to divide into two groups, one which would give Israel any weapons system that exists and one of which wants to write Israel out of the Bible.
Other groups who are keen on Sammes still believe that the Earth was created in 4004 BC, in what is a piece of scholarship related to Sammes.


Substrates
There is no suggestion that the people who spoke the geminate language or any other substrate were psychologically different from the better-known Germanic. The literature does not refer to any substrate of virtuous, egalitarian, unpretentious, low status Geminate People who did not conquer anybody because they did not believe in violence (etc. etc.) This may follow, but actually we are looking at the history of particular words, not people.

A hot topic in European archaeology is the nature of the interaction between incoming Neolithic farmers and abiding Mesolithic fisher-hunter-gatherers. While this may have produced linguistic substrates, there is no evidence that the geminate language or any other was spoken by Mesolithic natives, rather than by another farming group. There is no reliable evidence that some of the Mesolithics did not speak an Indo-European language. Contact zones may quite well have included early Germanics coming south and occupying more advanced and richer areas, thus acquiring loanwords from people on a higher cultural plane than they. There are no bases for dating the substrate lendings, but the bilingual contact zone may have persisted for thousands of years. (A comparison might be the English:Welsh linguistic border, which is still there and may already have existed in the 5th century AD.)



10. Erich Roeth.
Was Illyrian spoken in Thuringia until the Middle Ages and is there a separate 'basic language' at village level obeying different rules from the German which appears in the written record?
This is the theory put forward in Roeth's book Sind wir Germanen? das Ende eines Rätsels (1967; 350 pp.)

comment. This is actual nonsense so I am only describing it for fun.
Q. Did peasants in Thuringia speak an Illyrian language instead of, or alongside, German, into the late Middle Ages?
Answer: no.

Roeth's theory claims:
-That all linguistic changes in early Europe emanated from the
Illyrians of Thuringia as the centre of events
- that there was a separate language spoken by the peasants and that you have to master this in order to understand language history; and that in Thuringia there was a double separate language, so that peasants spoke, up until a certain point (around AD 1250?) Illyrian as well as German
- that the Illyrian stratum of words bypassed the sound shifts of the past 3000 years or so and were preserved unchanged when recorded any time after 1800 AD
- the Illyrian language is characterised by a number of sound shifts identified by Roeth but apparently unknown to all other linguists
- many of the 'Illyrian' words have cognates in the Baltic languages (Lithuanian and Latvian)
-the ancestors of the Romans came from Thuringia and so what seem to be Latin words in the dialect are really ancient local words which have stayed put and not gone gallivanting round the world

I don't have a problem with the idea that a language was spoken in Central Europe before the arrival of Germanic or proto-Germanic. We could call it 'Illyrian'. Illyrian is a name attested only for an area in Yugoslavia and Albania, so I would prefer Venetic for Central Europe, but I concede that a number of books and articles in the 1930s and 1940s familiarised this name for describing cultures in central Europe which included Thuringia. (This was a current led by Julius Pokorny and Hans Krahe which was very powerful for a time but seems to have ebbed away to nothing after a while.)

No more am I against the idea that 1/3 of the German vocabulary is non-Indo-European, or that, consequently, the 'alien' words come from other languages -or that these languages were spoken by the people who made up the prehistoric cultures of Central Europe, reasonably including Lausitz, Anjetitz, and so on.

The problem is more with the engine room of language history, the processes of validating and checking individual etymologies and connections. Roth is ignoring necessary checks and as a result his findings are globally unconvincing. What he says is fanciful. For example, he finds a word in local field-names which apparently has no equivalent in standard German, traces it back to Illyrian, and claims to know what it means in Illyrian. But he has no source of Illyrian so how does he know what the word means? The field may be named after the person who owned it, the crop it carried, its shape, a bird that nested there, etc. Since he can make up the meaning and the source word, he has unlimited freedom - and his results are not worth serious consideration. We may well reflect that since he makes up the rules as well as playing the games for Illyrian words, he will win every time and other scholars cannot check his results.

Thuringia does not have great communications and is not highly urbanised. However, it is part of the North European Plain. Anything rolling through would also roll through Thuringia. It is not a likely place to find an archaic language clinging on. Also, it is in the heart of Germany, the home of the majority of the world's historical linguists since the discipline began. If there were a second language lurking in Thuringian villages then someone would have discovered it. Roth quotes quite a number of scholarly studies on the peasant culture and dialect of the region, the fruit of pervasive academic interest and pride. Yet this amazing discovery remained on the bough for him to pluck.

I think this is a work of literature. Roeth was a publisher and too much attuned to what an audience wanted to hear. Lulling you into a dream somewhere between Heimatkunde and proto Green sensibility. An agreeable saunter through a rural landscape where his ancestors lived. Abandoning any intellectual standards is part of the trip. He is animated by a local patriotism which wants history to have happened in Western Thuringia -where, so far as I can make out, nothing of significance ever happened at all. There is a certain piety about his lack of realism.

It is interesting that R's words do not coincide with the postulated 'geminates language' at all. This suggests to me that his approach is arbitrary.

Roeth was not an academic and this makes it likely that no one has bothered to follow up his results in the 40 years since they were published. This is sad in a way, but after all it could be a completely wasted effort. He wrote a second volume which remained unpublished for many years after his death, but has now come out.

13. the DO auxiliary, a supplement to point 5.
This material has been expelled because of being like a remark, 'Once you've read all the medical evidence about the Kennedy assassination you're going to wish you'd never heard of the medical evidence.' Once you've seen all the evidence on the DO auxiliary you’re going to wish you’d never heard of it.

Summary.
Older English said 'forsakest thou the devil', modern English says 'do you forsake the devil'. The latter construction is known as periphrastic. It wraps up a number of changes as a package. The ‘forsakest’ type is called ‘synthetic’ because the stem and the tense marker are ‘put together’ in the same word. In English, the word 'do' is very frequent and carries out an undifferentiated function:

don’t you do that. I didn't do it. Did you do it or not.

It is an 'auxiliary' verb, it supports other verbs. As 'it' the pronoun can stand for any inanimate noun, so 'do' is a 'pro-verb' that can stand for any verb (except be).

The thesis of the 3 Deadly Finns is that the spread of periphrastic DO is due to 'Celtic speech habits' among populations in England which had given up Celtic speech roughly half a millennium earlier.


comment
(a) The following features are organically linked:
-periphrasis
-auxiliaries
-reduction of morphology and concentration of it so that only auxiliary verbs are conjugated
-reduction of all other verbs to unchanging verb-nouns

There are quantitative, I mean within the mathematics which links information and verbal form, links between loss of word endings and the rise of auxiliaries as markers of tense and mood. It would be an error to deal with them separately. If the tense marker leaves the 'meaningful' verb it has to re-emerge in the auxiliary and not just exit from the sentence. Thus a cluster of innovations may be structurally linked - and this mandatory innovation may not be either borrowing or inheritance.

The rise of undifferentiated, unmarked, verb-nouns, implies a sweeping replacement of conjugation by periphrasis in which auxiliaries become the only marked words alongside neutral verb-nouns, and all tenses or moods are signalled by auxiliaries. This terminal phase has not been reached in English, although reports say that it has been reached in some dialects of Welsh or Gaelic (not in the contemporary written languages).

(b) The prevalence of 'do' as an auxiliary reached a peak in the 16th C and declined after that. 16th C texts use it in contexts where we would not use it.

(c) Continuous Welsh prose doesn’t turn up until about the 11th C so I am doubtful about getting at 5th C Welsh enough to determine how it influenced an arriving pre-English language. The early poetry is very stylised and does not record a wide range of linguistic situations.

The link between celticity and later English only holds if the DO auxiliary is not a feature of related continental Germanic languages. Unfortunately, the unbounded development of a DO auxiliary is a key feature of Dutch and Low German. Examples at http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0506E&L=lowlands-l&P=R1114
- this is really important. It seems that to find the DO auxiliary you need to look at dialectal forms of NW Germanic languages, actually the ones closest to (putative) pre-boat-Anglo-Saxon. So in modern Low Saxon people say 'so wat dou ik nit maken' 'I don’t do a thing like that'. In a Dutch book on archaeology quoted above I found two sentences:
Men mag zelf niet graven, doch de officiele instanties doen het ook niet!
(One isn't allowed to dig, but the official bodies also do it not!)
and
Ik wil dat in het volgende proberen te doen (I will that in what follows try to do) (do stands for another verb meaning 'trail, pursue')
Both of these show the 'proverbal' use. If this construction is present in 20th C Dutch, it is hard to argue that it was completely missing from Invasion Period Anglo-Saxon. It would be equally convincing to present its development in English as a 'coastal Sprachbund' process,
with England adopting models from the near abroad, relatives of English on the coasts of the North Sea.

The idea of a 'linguistic unconscious' is to be fought off wherever possible, but it is difficult to explain why these languages could have been so wary of the DO word in their early stages, separated from each other via migration and politics, and then developed the DO word in parallel and in the same ways. Scholars have neglected plattdeutsch
because it has not produced a significant literature. But if you take Germanic as a central theme of linguistics then you have to pay attention to Platt because it may have unique evidence on some processes. We have to consider a counter thesis that the use of auxiliaries was imitated by Welsh speakers from English - the dominant partner in linguistic affairs on the island. If we accept a 'Sprachbund' in Britain then we have to consider the total process. It would follow that modern Welsh may not be purely Romano-British with zero per cent influence from English.

If we are seeing a 'North Atlantic language alliance' that includes English, Welsh, Gaelic, Dutch and Low German (at least), we would then ask where the 'leading sector' is, the source of innovations which after a lag are shared ones. This search would normally look for bilingual groups and then in particular for influential bilingual groups.

If we are looking for lurking and profound ‘speech habits’ then the simplification of declension & conjugation in 14th century England connects rather directly to the origins of Germanic in circa 1000 BC. The sets of changes bear strong resemblances to each other. The ‘buried’ speech habits would then be rather English than Celtic.

I am not persuaded that the whole process can be explained as a Celtic substrate influence spreading over France, Spain, and Britain, or even that the earliest records of Celtic show the use of auxiliaries in a significant way. In fact, the frustrating absence of DO auxiliary, present participle, etc., from early Saxon texts can be paralleled by the puzzling absence of periphrastic constructions, modal auxiliaries, etc., in early Irish and Welsh texts. The ever increasing advance of these features in the last 800 years or so has been a striking feature of Celtic history. That does not mean that the trait was already there in 600 AD - or that it can be demonstrated at all in Celtic remains in Gaul and Spain.

One question is whether the use of periphrastic verbs began to advance in Insular Celtic before it began to advance in Old English. In the earliest Welsh texts, it does not seem to be there. In the Mabinogion (late 12th C), where it is present, that seems to be a point of contrast between this prose text and the older poetry. Heinrich Wagner, the Dublin scholar and pupil of Ernst Lewy, was emphatic on the predominance of periphrasis in the late spoken Celtic languages which he studied in the field. He was actually indignant about the difference between spoken and written forms, odd as that may sound. Evidently complex morphology is a feature of the Gaelic literary language and evidently when we get records of spoken Gaelic the morphology is barely present and the use of periphrasis is highly advanced. This situation cannot be projected back to 400 AD. Yet the extensive corpus of written Celtic literature uses synthetic forms for the most part. If modern dialects have lost these complex verb and noun endings, that is a recent development in the history of the languages, and it would be very risky to project it back to 500 AD. We are looking at a linguistic revolution here, not at a literary:spoken opposition. There is a related problem that people assume that everything Celtic is ancient, so that the idea of linguistic revolutions grinds against intuition (or cultural prejudice) even when it looks like the most reasonable explanation of the evidence. Everyone goes to Ireland to find the European past, irrespective of whether it is there.

I have done a very modest search in early Celtic texts I have in the house, and the periphrastic line seems to be missing altogether. I have the impression that the condensed manner of ancient poetry excluded the use of periphrastic verbs and so used simple verbs more than prose (and than speech?). This would apply both to Old English and to early Welsh texts. So the DO auxiliary may be stylistically marked as colloquial. This reduces the value of our early texts, which are highly stylised and formal. Old English has laws and poems, Old Welsh has only poems.

Prising the story of the DO auxiliary out of this fraught historical context is dubious. My starting point was the claim of the 3 Finns that this development reflected the influence of Celtic speech habits (in monoglot English speakers of circa 800 AD to 1500 AD). To return to this, I don't find the claim proven.

(d) There is a whole book, of 1953, on the DO auxiliary in English, by the Swedish scholar Ellegård. He was aware of a supposed link with Celtic, proposed by Preusler in 1938. He investigates it and dismisses it. Incidentally, one can count 5 or 6 books about the DO word.

15. Krahe
In the 1950s, Hans Krahe studied a group of elements in river names and decided that their unity preceded the break-up of the Indo-European into separate languages. He called this phase Old European. He assumed that this group was Indo-European in nature, in line with his pre-existing belief that the oldest IE was spoken in Germany and radiated out from there. He moved into this field of study while coming out of the stage of 'Illyrian theory', which found Illyrians everywhere in Europe - a theory which now has no supporters.

Beekes points out that IE has no a, and most of the early river name-elements include an a. Also there are non-IE alternations in the oldest material. For this reason, the 'Old European' linguistic stratum cannot have been IE. The Spanish linguist, Antonio Tovar, confirmed this conclusion in his lecture reviewing Krahe. He confirmed Krahe's conclusions about distribution but denied the IE nature of the river names. A similar point was made much earlier by FBJ Kuiper. 'Old European' is a language of unknown affinity. River-names are accepted as being the oldest part of the verbal world in many regions, as words which migrants are always likely to have borrowed from the people already there. Thus many rivers in England have Celtic names, and thus Old European river-names could credibly be words which arriving Indo-Europeans learnt when they got here. This would also imply that there was a pre-Indo-European language of very wide geographical spread. (The 'no a' theory is part of the 'one vowel' theory and is not accepted by every Indo-europeanist.)

Krahe is too important to leave out. His work is some of the most stimulating in this field, although 60 years later some corrections are needed.



16. MacKenzie

WC MacKenzie in ‘Placenames of Scotland’ (1931) advances the idea that the Germanic component in Scottish was nothing to do with Angles or Saxons but was Frisian. (He excepts the Lothians, i.e. the region which includes Edinburgh and areas south and east of there.) Thus Dumfries means ‘fort of the Frisians’. As stated above, Frisian has no -n in the infinitive and Northumbrian shares this feature. A link between Frisian and the Anglian spoken in Southern Scotland thus exists. MacKenzie is unaware of this. It is plausible that the settlers who landed north of the Humber came from havens further north than those who landed in Kent, Essex, Hampshire, etc., and so that they could have included Frisians and Saxons among other groups. Frisians must have reached England, because there are villages called ‘Frisby’. Frisia is considerably closer to England than to Scotland.

He does not feel that he should check his argument by studying old languages or collecting facts of any kind. He expects to triumph simply by force of character. Why should studying language history qualify you to make pronouncements on language history? His whole position is motivated by nationalism, a wish to deny any connection between Scotland and England in the ethnic and linguistic spheres. The undeniable fact is that the Scots language is very similar to the English spoken just south of the border, which has massive resemblances to the English of the rest of England. MacKenzie is simply looking for a way to fly in the face of the facts. The Frisians (who are also Calvinists, which helps) are a convenient intellectual weapon.

This is the way things were a hundred years ago. Possibly the Internet is giving this amateur scholarship (or, amateurship) an unheard-of break, so that every bad idea will be published and available to the whole world. There was a whole world, in the 19th and 20th Cs, of books ‘of local interest’ in which amateur scholars, men of leisure without professional training in the disciplines which attracted them, wrote sentimentally on ‘place names’ or whatever and wrote down, while doing so, a wealth of charmingly crackpot ideas. Many of them collected useful information. Some of these ideas trickled on to the ‘New Age’ thing in the 1960s, with ley lines, neo-paganism, and so forth. These books, little read and little considered, were a haven for unconventional ideas. The new Internet world looks like swelling this sector to incredible dimensions. This may be beneficial for an area like the history of the Scots language, something noticeably under-worked and under-developed. However, crackpot ideas are a symptom of underdevelopment and a component of it.

In international textbooks on language Scots is simply presented as a variant of English. Haarmann’s standard work does not present Scots as a separate language or offer any count of its speakers. This is intolerable for nationalists to whom the five mile journey from just on the English side of the border to just on the Scottish side is the biggest distance in the whole universe. Scots has to have a separate history. Without this imperative (which as a genetic Scot I understand very well) MacKenzie’s theory would never have been broached. MacKenzie also presents an even more ludicrous theory that Pictish did not die out but simply evolved into Scots. Thus any resemblances between Scots and English would be due to chance coincidence.

Speculation and error correction in Palaeolinguistics

Speculation and error correction in Palaeolinguistics

There is hope that the advent of the Internet and the large number of people interested in the field, along with other events like the end of Communism and the maturing of social anthropology, can bring about a new era in ancient linguistic history and resolve some of the outstanding questions. At the same time, there is a large amount of uncontrolled speculation in the field, and my interest in the field at this point came partly from watching 'The X-Files' and having a hankering for weird ideas. 'Psychoceramics' is the scientific study of crackpots and this essay is partly in the psychoceramic field. It is all about Europe, and mainly about the northwest of that continent.

It was researched late 2008 to early 2009 and written up in April 2010.

In what follows IE stands for ‘Indo-European’, AS for 'Anglo-Saxon', PCT for 'Palaeolithic continuity Theory'. For bibliography see a posting elsewhere on this site.

Contents
1. Is English a 4th branch of the Germanic languages? English as an insular language. Did English reach England before Caesar?

2. the Palaeolithic Continuity Theory. Was Indo-European already spoken in Europe 10,000 years ago?

3. Was Northumbrian a 'creole language' and subject to 'premature loss of morphology' as a result of a heavy Celtic substrate influence? did a most-mortal Celtic element influence the development of middle English?

4. The question of substrates in Germanic. Is a large part of the common Germanic vocabulary borrowed from another language?

5. modifications to the Renfrew Thesis.
Does the theory (that the Neolithic immigrants to Europe were speakers of Indo-European) hold up?
If the area north of a certain line is the zone of 'contact diffusion' (as opposed to immigration) can we explain this by saying that Celtic and Germanic are 'broken European' and radically reshaped by substrate influence? The boundary between 'demic diffusion' and 'contact imitation' in the Neolithic spread of farming.

6. Is Theo Vennemann's theory that North-West Europe was Basque-speaking in early times (and possibly in the Palaeolithic?) correct? Is his other theory on the 'Semitidic' language affecting the Atlantic coast of Europe in Bronze Age times correct? are we all Basques?

7. The Morris-Jones theory of a Hamitic influence on Insular Celtic. Can we sustain it, has any new evidence been developed?

8. Nordwestblock theory. Was there an area (covering the Low Countries and northwest Germany) which in late prehistoric times was 'non Celtic non Germanic' and which spoke a different language ('Belgisch')? how far is this substrate represented in English? Was this the language spoken by the Belgae in England?

9. Schrijver's Minoan-Hattite-Celtic thesis. Is the Celtic verb related to the Hattic language spoken in Central Anatolia around 2000 BC?



1. Is English a 4th branch of the Germanic languages? or, English as an insular language.
Did the Belgae credited by Caesar with immigrating to Britain in the 2nd-1st Cs BC (roughly) speak a Germanic language and was this the ancestor of Anglo-Saxon?
summary of theory. There were no Anglo-Saxon invasions. The density of population reached by the 5th C AD in Britain was too high for significant amounts of new human material to fit in. The major change, from Celtic to Germanic language, therefore happened when the population was much less dense, before the Roman invasion and the prosperity it brought. The Belgae, reaching Britain from Northern France or Belgium in the last centuries before Caesar, spoke a Germanic language and this is the direct ancestor of modern English. There are massive resemblances between English genes and those of other Germanic areas around the North Sea, but the density of this genetic material argues against it arriving between 300-600 AD (roughly), so it must have already been there. The landing of a few Saxon pirates during the sub-Roman confusion is neither here nor there. English is a fourth branch of the Germanic languages because of this long separate development. Its resemblances to other north-west Germanic languages are deceiving and can be argued away.

Comments. This theory comes out of genetics and archaeology and its assaults on linguistics are purely attempts to bully the evidence into fitting a prejudged conclusion. The projection of genetic findings in 21st century populations onto the biological situation of 2000 years ago is highly inaccurate, not to say speculative. Dating the arrival of 'Germanic' genes in southern England is not convincing, although one day it may be. The theory appeals to a lot of people because of its rejection of foreigners - the Saxon invasions are abolished and the English have been English for 2000 years, or maybe 3000.

There was a migration of Belgae to Britain, in about the 2nd C BC, maybe even later, as identified by Caesar around 54 BC, in his surviving writings about Britain. The 'Belgic' area is in the 'nonCeltic nonGermanic' Nordwestblock area, as identified by Maurits Gysseling in the 1950s and Hans Kuhn somewhat later, so they could have spoken ‘Belgic’. (See article 5 below.) However, Gysseling also identifies a wave of germanisation of this area in the 3rd and 2nd Cs BC, so that it was 'stark germaniseerd' (heavily Germanised) at the time of their late migrations to Britain, and so those Belgae will have been partly of Germanic (or Germanic influenced?) speech. A lot depends on the dating of the Belgic invasion, which has wide acceptance among archaeologists as well as being attested to by Caesar. Possibly it means Germanic speech in England, possibly it meant an influx of speakers of a ‘third group’ or Nordwestblock language (see below article 8).

Further, there were certainly troops from Germanic Europe stationed in England as auxiliaries of the Roman Army, and some of these were probably given land when their time had expired, so that they settled and left offspring.

There are early Latin words in Anglo-Saxon, for example 'cheese' (caseum) 'church' 'street'. The important area is such words which exist in English but not in Continental Germanic dialects. There is such a stratum, about 200 words. However, the Saxons could still have acquired these words on the Continent, if they were living in the Seine-Maas area and in contact with speakers of Vulgar Latin.

The 4th branch theory requires the ancestor of English to have been spoken in England since the 2nd C BC at the very latest. This would mean roughly 400 years of Saxon speech living under Roman domination and in close contact with Latin speakers. Welsh has hundreds of Latin words from this phase of history. The ‘long’ history should also mean massive borrowing from British, agreed to be the main language of the island, and of the areas of the island which the Belgae dominated as an upper class. Both strata are positive evidence which would have survived, despite some attrition, to be recorded in early AS texts around the 7th C. But they are few in number and the Latin loans could have been acquired on the Continent. On this basis the 4th branch theory fails and is knocked out.

There is also the question of early Germanic words in Welsh. The count here may not be zero but there are certainly very few. You could argue that Welsh descends from the British of an area that had no Belgae, and the influenced areas lost their speech without leaving a record. This is still no evidence. If they did not acquire the words it is because a Germanic language was not being spoken in Roman Britain.


2. The Palaeolithic Continuity Theory (PCT). Was Indo-European already spoken in Europe 10,000 years ago?
Summary.
This takes the Indo-European continent which we find in 500 AD and projects it back onto the Old Stone Age. For these people English was spoken in England before the land link between England and France was flooded, in the Palaeolithic. Immigrations from Africa and Asia are thus discounted. Mario Alinei is the ideologue of Continuity. Some texts are here:
http://www.continuitas.com/texts.html

comment. I found this theory pointless because without written record there is no evidence of what languages were spoken 10,000 years ago. The basic problem with any Palaeolithic theory about language is that those people never used writing. We have no idea what languages they spoke in Europe or Asia. This theory has nothing to do with linguistics. The resistance to influences, and blood, coming into Europe from outside is suspect, and links with the beliefs of the Liga del Nord and other Italian groups opposed to the recent immigration into Italy (from North and East Africa and to a lesser extent from the Near East). The map of linguistic events in the New Stone Age will never be complete and thus lends itself to clever re-arrangements of speculations into new forms.

The Indo-European languages bear striking resemblances to each other. This is one of the key limiting factors in dating the IE Diaspora. It has to be early enough to get as far as Ireland and central-north India before history starts, but it has to be late enough for the amazing resemblances in morphology between Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin not to have been eroded by time. This constraint is fundamental to all building of models for early European language history, and PCT does not even address it.

If Alinei could find one tenable flaw in the "immigrant Indo-European" thesis then the music would start. But he does not.

Since most of Europe was under glaciers and uninhabited during the last Ice Age, the question of what language was spoken in those regions need not be answered.
The idea that artefact cultures didn't change between Palaeo- and Neolithic ignores the fact that they largely abandoned hunting-gathering and picked up on farming and stockbreeding. How much more discontinuous could anything be?

As has been pointed out (John Kozak, personal communication) there was an 'empty Europe' in the last Ice Age and a Mesolithic irradiation into a habitable post-glacial continent, (in millenia up to 8000 BC) and there is at least a possibility that this single point of origin homogeneity corresponds with the IE linguistic homogeneity. (Perhaps not single but few, perhaps from three or four entry points or refugia.) Proto-Indo-European was presumably spoken somewhere in the Mesolithic, but we do not know where that was. Wherever it was, it was a compact and coherent area. The genetic evidence points to a repopulation of Europe in Mesolithic times and puzzlingly limited 'replacement' of the population thereafter. Arguments about this may be largely to do with speculative models but deserve addressing. How does this sit with the hard linguistic evidence linking Europe to Anatolia, Iran, and North India?

The PCT stuff promises a delightfully pleasurable trip through thousands of years of drifting groups in a fabulously pristine landscape, but the game can't start unless someone produces some evidence. On the contrary, there is a kind of scientist who homes in on areas where there is no
evidence. A summary of early European linguistic diversity using modern theory based on findings in other continents is here:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=980

This posting demolishes the PCT. It identifies a likely pattern of many (40?) non-IE languages in Europe which failed to reach written status (or, only through tenuous strata of loan words or perhaps structures of phonemes or intonation etc.). I find this intuitively attractive and I think most Indo-Europeanists would buy into that picture. I think the work of Ernst Lewy (1881-1966) sets out from that picture and has captured parts of it, as far as lost languages ever speak.

3. Was the Northumbrian dialect a 'creole language' in circa AD 600-900 and subject to 'premature loss of morphology' as a result of a heavy Celtic substrate influence? Did the Celtic majority population of the early decades after the Anglo-Saxon Settlement influence the Anglo-Saxon language before it was finally recorded in writing? Did ‘Celtic speech habits’ continue to shape the development of English?

This theory of a Brittonic-Northumbrian mixed language is reported in Katy Wales’ book on Northern English, as it was worked out in a paper by three Finnish scholars: Marku Filppula, Juhani Klemola, and Heli Pitkänen (and now in their whole book on Celtic influences).
For a discussion of the term 'creole' see article 5 below.
To assess this theory we would have to answer (at least) four questions for any 'loan' feature:
(a) Was this feature missing from Anglo-Saxon in early times
(b) was this feature present in Welsh in early times
(c) is Welsh the only candidate source
(d) Is this a loan feature or an "efficiency" feature related to the general loss of morphology

summary.
It is agreed that English has evolved through progressive loss, over a very long period, of word endings, tools essential to the language in its beginning and which there were other very good reasons for not losing. In 450 AD England must have been full of Celtic speakers, using a language we can call 'British', which was undoubtedly related to Cornish, Welsh, and a language later spoken in south-west Scotland and NW England ('Cumbrian'). They were an advanced agricultural population who must have reached a high population density (between four and seven million people according to a recent estimate). The Celtic loanwords in Old English are very rare and the disappearance of the Romano-British and their speech is a major puzzle. It is one where the evidence disappoints expectations, and where numerous writers have distorted the evidence to fit comforting preconceptions about 'English continuity' and tranquillity.

The laws of King Ine of Kent distinguish between English and Welsh (wylisc) population goups in the early 7th C. Presumably the ‘wylisc’ population went through a bilingual phase after the conquest, perhaps including a phase of speaking ‘broken English’ along with P-Celtic. By 700 AD there is general agreement that these speakers had disappeared, being assimilated to the Anglo-Saxon speech community. They cease to be identified as a separate social group (of low status) in the law codes. The proposal is that the legal disadvantages waned and vanished between Ine and the laws of Alfred dated circa 890 which no longer have that status distinction. The Celts in England all merge with the Saxons by 700, or else we would hear more about them. This process was taking place during the formation of Old English and indeed can be defined as a part of that process. The question is whether Old English, as finally written down when literacy arrived, had absorbed some abiding influences from the bilingual Celtic under-class. The Finns say that this influence showed itself in much later linguistic changes, in the transition from Old English to Middle English and in changes in late Middle English (so 12th to 15th centuries AD). These changes are mainly the simplification of verb and noun endings and the rise of the periphrastic verb (so ‘Did you speak?’ for ‘spakest thou?’).

I think we can enjoy the hypothesis of a speech community of say AD 450 to 700, divided by race but living in the same settlements. In the model, the bilinguals are during this transition period the majority; in some districts they are a huge majority, say 90%. Only a few thousand Saxons have crossed the sea in their wooden boats. The lower status group is bilingual but the Angles and Saxons, the high status group, only speak their own language. The sociological gap between the two languages is sensitive and so there is no casual drift of vocabulary from one to the other. So, speaking P-Celtic was a sign of low status, and using Celtic words when speaking English was stigmatised. This would explain the amazingly low percentage of Celtic loanwords, while failing to explain the supposed Celtic influence on sentence structure. The model has to add a further ramification, namely that the speech community lacked the linguistic insight to recognise these patterns as Celtic, and so had no defence mechanism which could reject them. The speaker is less accurate about purging more abstract structures and so Celtic enters English, before the arrival of writing, in elements of syntax, which are the ones which the Three Finns identify as Celtic derived. This is unconscious and it does evade the censor.

The theory says further that Celtic habits continued to influence the development of English even centuries after the use of Celtic had died out. Thus, if the bilingual Celtic/English phase ended around 700 AD, the transition to modern English during the 14th C was still dominantly influenced by these 'Celtic speech habits', lurking especially among the lower classes. This argues for a kind of linguistic unconscious, where repressed memories of the past (pre-natal, in fact) continue to steer behaviour in the present. For them, you can inherit propensities to change the code as well as the code.

This allows the scholars to attribute every change in English to substrate influence even when the language contact had ceased centuries before. Although Celtic words are almost completely missing from the English vocabulary, this is to be compensated for by defining syntactic innovations, and so the very structure of the language and the majority of utterances, as Celtic influenced.

P-Celtic continued to be spoken in north-west England and south-west Scotland until perhaps the 12th century (hence Cumberland = 'Cymru', Welsh people.) But the expansion of English within Britain continued, so that even in 1200 AD there were border strips (in Devon, in Cumbria, perhaps in Strathclyde, and perhaps in Shropshire and Herefordshire) where P-Celtic speakers had recently acquired English. It is hard to see these areas as being linguistically or culturally influential.

Digging has found very few traces of Angles arriving in Northern England, so scholars are puzzled at the complete replacement of the Celtic language of sub-Roman north-east England by an Anglian dialect ('Northumbrian') in the period circa AD 500-800. It is agreed that the revolutionary simplification of word endings (morphology) which gave rise to Middle English began in the North, although this simplification is usually ascribed to the arrival of great numbers of Danes who learnt English easily but also simplified it where it differed from Danish. This is already pointed out in the Cambridge Hist of English and American literature (1907-21) on line. It says 'These changes naturally began where the evil was greatest, in the Northumbrian dialect' and makes a different point, that different classes of nouns were levelled so that the endings in -s were used throughout (to replace the lost ones in n). So they had -es for genitive and -as for the plural. This simplification is compatible with language mixing, with many people acquiring something as a second language. The rules which are typically acquired latest by children may be, collectively, rejected and not acquired at all. The Anglo-Scandinavian simplified language is known as ‘Angle-Mangle’. Signs of the change appear in 10th century manuscripts in Northumbrian (Gospel translations), later than the first large-scale Danish invasion (AD 866-7) but much earlier than the emergence of Middle English in the 12th century. This early dating is tantalising, even irritating, and unfixable. The new theory is that the code breakdown was four centuries older, and due to the presence of very many Celtic people in Northumbria, who learnt English inefficiently and so produced a creolised language which had eliminated the difficult morphology and had acquired some Celtic features. It was adopted by a later mixed Anglo-Danish population and spread over the entire country because it was easier to learn, this was its key design feature. (However, no pre-Danish texts have been produced to support this.)

The transition to Modern English was again revolutionary but bears very strong resemblances to the Old English/Middle English transition, in that it meant a further abandonment of morphology and the development of other features, such as word order, to express essential distinctions of meaning.

comments. The record of Northumbrian is strikingly thin on the ground and has internal problems which make my hair stand on end. I can see that classical language history did the detailed work while leaving the generalisations well alone, so that there is a vacuum, but you can't look at the evidence without thinking that the stuff you really want is missing. My impression (and I could not find any statements on this in print) is that the various theories of how Northumbrian could have come to take the forms it did, in the surviving manuscripts, all have fatal flaws, so that none of the specialists has any theory which claims to explain the facts. If that is not so, still I could not find any articles which did present an explanation.

conclusion
The idea of a 'linguistic unconscious' is not just novel but completely unacceptable. (If I am not mistaken, Heinrich Wagner thought of such a thing in the history of Insular Celtic.)

Any feature which makes a language easier to learn for adults makes it easier to learn for children. The 'language efficiency' argument does not point us decisively at an ethnically different population group rising, submerging, underlying, etc. Languages have to survive being learnt by children.

Both Dutch and Danish underwent changes extremely similar to the transition between Old English and Middle English. We should bear in mind that the collapse of complex morphology is a feature of all Western European languages. In fact, the geographical boundary where this fact ceases to apply is of the highest interest. Baltic and Slavonic languages are very conservative on this point, (as is Finnish, I believe), although modern Greek has undertaken major simplifications. If this path has been followed by Italian and Danish, we must suspect that English has followed it for similar reasons and not, it follows, for reasons confined to this island, such as a Celtic stratum of more or less subdued churls in the area between Forth and Humber. It would be risky to develop a theory of English development which did not also account for the similarity to the other languages of Western and Southern Europe.

As for the amazing lack of Welsh/British words in early English, explanations of things that did not happen will always resemble descriptions of things that did not happen.

4. The question of substrates in Germanic
summary.
In 1995, FBJ Kuiper, a Dutch linguist mainly occupied with the history of Sanskrit, wrote an article in North West European Language Evolution (NOWELE) which has become a classic. ('Gothic bagms and Old Icelandic ylgr'.) It concerns, in detail, only two words (ylgr 'she-wolf' and bagms, 'tree') but its implications go much further and imply the existence of a lost substrate language with internal sound alternations which do not fit into the history of Germanic. FBJ Kuiper wrote what may be the classic article on this topic, where he identifies four substrate languages:
a1 Old European river names (as collected by Hans Krahe)
a2 the so-called language of geminates
a3 the “European” (or “Atlantic,” or “North Balkan”) substrate, characterized by the prefix *a (probably stressed) and the frequent occurrence of the vowel *a; a stop system in which labial and velar stops alternated
a4 Mediterranean not of use for Germanic

RSP Beekes’ 1999 lecture on the subject finds that of about 7600 root words in the Germanic component of Dutch, about half do not have Indo-European etymologies. The proposal is simply that these come from substrate languages and the project is to find any patterns in these words and to disengage something of the source languages and of the history of their contact with Germanic.

This project is associated with the ‘Leiden School’ and a new etymological dictionary of the Dutch language (edited by Dr Marlies Philippa, 2003-9) now gives full word histories of the substrate words, something which no European etymological dictionary has seen fit to do up till now.

The core of the search is to find patterns within many thousand individual words and a lot of the action has been to do with the geminates language, where the density and cohesion of the recovered material leads it away from orphan status and towards credibility as a fragment of a lost language. The scale of the loans leads us towards the conclusion that the Germanic peoples include a large proportion of people who were not Germanic and possibly not Indo-European.
Beekes says that the ‘Loanwords are often terms for local phenomena such as landscape features (various sorts of bodies of water: pools, puddles, runnels; hills, knolls, etc.) and terms for twigs, branches boughs, etc.; terms for ... tools; for household equipment such as pots, pans, forks, spoons; names for animals and plants when these were unknown to the newly arrived speakers’. The semantic cohesion of the group, already identified by phonetic considerations, is a powerful argument in favour of its identity as a genuine substrate block.

If you find doublets of words which have been borrowed twice, the alternations in the recorded forms allow you to hypothesize about the phonemic structure of the source language. The more regularity of patterning you find, the more the idea that the pattern exists is confirmed.

comments.
Take the following English words: chieftain captain chattel cattle. They all come from a French word meaning 'head'. The fact that the same alternation appears twice indicate that there was an alternation within the source language. We know in fact that Old French had a dialect distinction such that Norman French had a hard c and other regions had 'ch'. It is only when the four words are taken in aggregate that it becomes credible that all four come from the same language (in this case French). Their cohesion at semantic level is also a vital piece of evidence. (The idea that you would refer to cattle as ‘heads' and that this would become a collective term for them is not obvious from the word go.) It follows that the real identity of sets of words may only become apparent after considerable work, and it follows from this, further, that results from an earlier time may have to be abandoned. The evidence for substrates has to be considered as an entity, where repetitive sets of features have a weight in their entirety. This cumulative force is by now irresistible. The balance of power in Germanic language history has altered. Where we see alternations in the loan material which are impossible or unknown in the 'legitimate' stock, that is another indication that we are looking at another language. One feature of the loan material is seen in the stubb/stump group. These two words come from the same word in the source language but one has an m in it. This is the so-called prenasalisation. (It has to be stubb originally because otherwise the -u- would be long.) As a hypothesis, it allows the capture of numerous words which had been a source of frustration to earlier scholarship. The link between ‘sleep’ and ‘slumber’ is presumably attractive and easy to accept. Tracing a few dozen of these strong links allows us to be happier with less obvious and less direct links.

I have the very strong impression that language historians have generally regarded finding a good IE etymology for any word as success and failing to find one as failure. They have regarded themselves as ‘Indo-European’ scholars and not as general language historians. Recognition has an emotional value, a poetic taste of fulfilment. I think the IE share in the European languages which reached written record may have been over-estimated, perhaps quite seriously.

There is a second factor, to do with the development of laryngeal theory. This has led to a new idea of the nature of the IE root, so that it can only be CeC or eC. (C stands for ‘a consonant’.) That is, there was only one vowel in the parent language. This eliminates a large number of proposed IE roots which do not follow this pattern and so could not have been part of the IE language as reconstructed. It is based on the prevalence of ablaut in Indo-European, wherbey vowels alternate in a single root, as if they were a single vowel being modified by something unamed, a ‘thing which modifies’. This one vowel theory goes back to de Saussure in 1878; however the whole laryngeal theory was not available until the late 1920s, after the decipherment of Hittite with its clear evidence for the former existence of laryngeal consonants, identified quite soon as the things which modified. Its consequences have been fascinating to all but also far-reaching and so slow to work out. The standard dictionaries of etymology are not in line with this ‘one vowel’ theory. Szemerenyi has suggested that the idea of a language with only one vowel is contradicted by the evidence of the world’s languages as they have been captured by 20th C linguists. It is so marginal in the distribution field as to be subject to very severe doubts as a postulate. Thus the reconstruction with a single vowel may be wrong. There is a link between the development of laryngeal theory in Indo-European and a revived interest in non-IE word histories and phonological shapes. For example, Beekes wrote a book on laryngeals in Greek. The 'new' substrate words are partly new inhabitants of the gap made by wiping out all IE roots that do not have the vowel e.

Beekes remarks that the first wave (actually the first century or 150 years) of IE studies was so occupied with phonology that they neglected semantics; that is, many accepted derivations are wrong because the meaning of words was not considered and the acoustic resemblance is a coincidence. IE scholars have shown ingenuity and collegiate solidarity rather than pure objectivity. If we find an etymology of the word ‘ship’ which links it to a root meaning ‘cut’, this may be ingenuity rather than a good etymology. Why would the ‘cut’ word give you the name for something which is made of wood, floats, goes on the water, brings fish, etc.? Is it not better to give up the ‘noble genealogy’ and accept that this is a substrate word acquired on arrival on the shores of the Baltic? The root is presumably the one seen in Scheibe, German for ‘a slice’ of bread etc. Do we think of a ship as a floating slice?

Beekes suggests that the rule whereby a vowel is short before a double consonant but short before a single one is a feature of the substrate language. This is related to the observation that many words suspected of being substratic include double, i.e. geminated, consonants, which (according to orthodox etymological theory) do not exist in proto-Germanic. It is important to note that geminates can re-emerge in the later history of the Germanic languages and that they remained in the demarcated territory of pet-names ('hypocoristics'), so that Uffa is a by-form of Uhtferth. It is known from 20th C observations that reduplication is a feature of child language, and evidently the pet-names belong with child language even though they can continue to be used in adult language. Thus many names in mediaeval documents that list the servile population, those who owe labour obligations and rent, are recorded in pet-name form, while this is much rarer for kings and bishops. It is interesting that King Offa is recorded in this form rather than as *Ohtferth. (Actually there were two King Offas.) The geminate words are not personal names.
Another proposed substrate feature is the p/k alternation (or labial-velar alternation). This has a history, as Kluge had noticed, already in 1913, that there was a problem with a group of words which he had isolated, all too clearly. If we look at the German words streifen and streichen, it seems likely that they are a doublet, deriving from a single word in some speech universe where p could alternate with k (these being the earlier versions of the f and ch). (English strip, strike.) If we look at the English word slack, its exact semantic correspondence in Low German is schlapp (High German schlaff). Again p and k alternate - the same word appears with both variants. Another example is in stronk and stromp (Dutch words both meaning 'stump‘). English words scrape and scratch (original consonant a ‘k’) are another example. The link between English creep and German kriechen is another. (The Nordwestblock word for 'daybreak' alternates, thus 'krieken' in Dutch and 'creep of day' in older Scots.)

(Another way of looking at this is to say that these are the only alternations recoverable - a huge range of other possible alternations are not found in any identified doublets.)

Another series shows an alternation between k and kn (connected to a theoretical kn-gn alternation where one side evolved through hn to simple n). Thus Dutch knauwen matches German nagen 'gnaw'. There is an internal doublet in Dutch of knauwen and knagen - which shows a velar-labial alternation.

As Gysseling is clear that the ‘Belgisch’ language was Indo-European, it is not the ‘geminate language’. To confirm this, Beekes positions the latter in ‘the west and north of central Europe’, an area which does not include any district within the Nordwestblock. Evidently there is a paranoia of substrates in which someone loses restraint and makes all substrates converge. Nonetheless the cover of the published version of his lecture reproduces an altar to the goddess Nehalennia, because of her non-Germanic name. Nehalennia is however one of the names which are identified as belonging to the Nordwestblock.

Archaeologists resist any idea of migration and strive to justify ‘local development’ of changes even in the most unpromising cases. Linguists strive to find an Indo-European etymology for every item of lexicon and regard a local origin (substrate) as a failure. The contrast is very bizarre when after all it was the same people who used both artefacts and words. It cannot be founded in a sound philosophy of science. It must connect to the traditions of the professions - transmitted by unconscious imitation and thriving in the form of anxiety.

A Boutkan essay attributes slakot' (Ru.) to a North European substrate and links it to Swedish slage, which is swamp (cf. slack in Northern England). He lists other Low German words about wet mud, splashes, etc. He says schlagregen may not be 'schlag' but 'rain that makes you wet’ as slakot' is 'snow that makes you wet'. schlackern. There is a wonderful array of Scots words from this root unknown to Boutkan, with and without the initial s. One is slaicher. And the word 'slake' I guess. This is a whole essay on one word but it does point to a whole world of possibilities. This is the sludge-slush root. The original North Europeans were world experts on mud.


5. Modifications to the Renfrew thesis
Does the distribution of features in which languages deviate from the pristine Indo-European construction record a geographical distinction in the balance between inward migration and Mesolithic population continuity as the first farmers spread across Europe?

summary. The front runner of theories about early language history in Europe is presented in Colin Renfrew’s Language and History (1984) which equates the spread of the IE languages across Europe with the spread of farming. Thus if we find related languages in all parts of Europe, resembling each other evidently because they spread from the same point (or area), this matches with the spread of farming to all points of the continent, also from a fixed area (or perhaps from two areas, via Greece and Spain, respectively). In fact, where we find non-farming models of subsistence continuing, for climatic reasons, we also find non-IE languages, for example in Scandinavia and northern provinces of Russia. It is obvious that almost all IE peoples in early times are also farming peoples. In Europe, the eastern languages are archaic and the Western ones highly innovatory or broken up. With respect to the reconstructed ancestral language, Slavic is highly archaic and Baltic even more so. There are striking resemblances between the changes away from the source language, with its amazing wealth of verb and noun endings, followed by Insular Celtic and Germanic before the arrival of writing, and the development of the Romance languages in their journey away from Latin.

Renfrew has been extremely active in this area of theory since 1984, so that there are now many Renfrew essays which substantially modify the model in his classic 1984 book. He has now specified that he sees the earliest Indo-Europeans as living in the Konya Plain, in south-central Anatolia, during the Mesolithic, and acquiring knowledge of farming there. He proposes (this is before the evidence can answer us) that they were the late Palaeolithic population of that region, so that if we could go back to 8000 BC we would find a tribe (living by collecting food, not cultivating it, but already sedentary) there who were already speaking a proto-Indo-European. (The famous urban site of Catal Hoyuk or Huyuk, dug by Mellaart and Hodder, is on the Konya plain.)

5a differences in IE languages reflecting the boundary between 'demic
diffusion' and 'contact imitation' in the Neolithic

summary. In a later essay, Renfrew retracts the idea that all of Europe was populated by migrants from Anatolia, the primary farmers, spreading at very much the rate that farming spread. Instead he now draws a contrast between demic diffusion vs contact imitation 'availability'. The terms are drawn from the work of population geneticists and the adaptation reflects the findings of these geneticists (Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza).

Demic means 'Neolithic' gene flow into Europe and imitation means Mesolithic genetic continuity - Mesolithic populations imitating farming practices and holding on to their territory to give rise to modern Europeans. The realm of imitation is essentially Europe outside the Balkan 'Old Europe' core, which possibly had outliers in Ukraine and South Italy. ‘Demic’ is an adjective for the word ‘population’ -‘demic diffusion’ means diffusion (of farming essentially) by a flow of people who knew how to do it. There is another possibility, which is of non-farming populations observing farmers on their borders and acquiring the new techniques and food species without romantically disappearing from history.

Does the theory (that the Neolithic immigrants to Europe were speakers of Indo-European) hold up if the area north of a certain line is the zone of 'contact diffusion' (as opposed to immigration)? But Europe North and West of that line is just as Indo-European as the Mediterranean, so can we explain this by saying that Celtic and Germanic are 'broken European' and radically reshaped by substrate influence? Can the Indo-Europeanisation of NW Europe be described to any extent as creolisation? What is the linguistic correlate for the alleged demic/imitation split?

In these later essays Renfrew describes monothematic/ polythematic states of Indo-European, Hittite (Anatolian?) being monothematic. (see another essay on this site for details) He suggests that North languages separated first and there was a Greek -Sanskrit phase of shared innovations after that separation. The intense language contact which produced the polythematic type took place in the Balkans and regions now in the Ukraine; Hittite, Germanic, and Celtic were excluded from them because they are not the product of that intensely creative phase, which fundamentally changed the nature of 'Indo-European'.


comment. The Mesolithic continuity idea is inevitably tempered by the demonstrated IE nature of the languages of Northern and Western Europe, so that by this account the Mesolithics must have imitated their richer neighbours enough to take their language over. This has hardly begun to be explored, but in this account the original features of Celtic and Germanic vis-à-vis Greek, Slavic, etc. go back to the original acculturation and contact phase and to a stratum of the European past which is far beyond the earliest horizon of written history.

There is however another view of the ‘northern peripheral languages’, which is that their unusual features are due to the way in which they were acquired by pre-existing populations, and in fact to simplifications akin to creoles.

5b We now have a new question, roughly: do the distinctive features of Celtic and Germanic, in deviating from classical IE, represent (a) the effect of language mixing with a Mesolithic population outside the core area of early farming or (b) archaic IE which ‘missed out on’ the advergent language development taking place in the south-east, as the core area of early European farming and technological change? I cannot think of any way of testing this.

Has there been a traumatic suppression of awareness about the degree of decay/ barbarism of the Germanic group, connected with the nationalist commitment of the German scholars involved? And an indifference to the Celtic group? No one doubts that Celtic is a highly atypical IE language and the theory that its original features represent the adaptations of a Mesolithic Western population learning a foreign tongue is attractive and at least gets us off the hook of trying to explain it any other way. The idea that Germanic is the other half of the same category is unattractive to many people but has some intellectual history behind it.

comment on the creole theory. Sigmund Feist started the 'Germanic - creolised' hare in 1932. The term creolised derives from certain languages mainly of Negro and mixed populations in the New World, which radically simplified the structures of (conditionally) 'parental' languages because of the way in which they were acquired. The 'parental' languages included Spanish, Portuguese, English and Dutch, but the 'child' languages had compelling resemblances to each other. This was an ‘unrespectable’ zone of language and scholars saw it as beneath their dignity. The great Austrian linguist Hugo Schuchhardt reached, towards 1900, a fundamental theoretical understanding of Creole and so provided a theoretical basis, not existing until that time, for understanding how a language can be simplified. Scholars were not attracted by the human subjects (Black people, mostly) and were very slow to see in creoles a source of ideas on radical language change.

Feist explained the changes, occurring before the written record, which gave rise to the Germanic family as we find it in that record, as being due to a creolisation in which the speakers of a non-IE language learnt IE and radically changed it in order to make it easier. Antoine Meillet did something similar in 1922, although not using the Creole label. I think the resistance of German scholars to the idea that German is a ‘post-creole’ language is not altogether intellectual and rational. Having said that, Feist’s theory may be wrong. Supposing it to be right, it may really connect with the distinction between Core/Old Europe and periphery/Outer Europe/ contact borrowing.

Other scholars have discussed the resemblances between Hittite and Germanic. The overall shape of the Gmc tense system is similar to that in Hittite and so consistent with being archaic-faithful and so not creolised.



6. Vennemann's theory on two prehistoric non-IE languages affecting NW Europe in later prehistory. Was Western Europe Basque-speaking in early times (and possibly in the Palaeolithic?)? was there a Semitic or Hamitic language which was spoken on the coastline of Western Europe in the last millennia before the birth of Christ?

summary. Theo Vennemann's theory is that there are two key substrate languages in Western Europe, one Basque, present from earliest times, and one 'Semitidic' (by which he means a language which is like a Semitic language but is perhaps only a cousin of them), present in 600-300 BC. There are toponyms from these languages all over Western Europe. The Indo-Europeans were thus preceded in the far West by two main non-IE populations.

His views are expressed in a huge volume, Europa vasconica - Europa Semitica, 977 pp. (These are the two peoples he describes.) This is TV's collected articles 1984-2000 so not a connected argument. It is in German. He is also, with Elisabeth Hampel, one of the two authors of an article saying that 'we're all Basques'. He claims that Raetic (the ancient language of the Austrian Alps, roughly) is related to Basque, and claims Phoenician as a superstrate in Baltic Europe. He formerly thought it was an anonymous Semitic language but changed the theory to be Punic. He also finds 'Atlantic' people on the littoral: they are NOT Basques, but supply toponyms on the coast, moving by ship and equated with a 'semitidic' language (i.e. like Hamitic but more like Semitic). He links the latter language with the Carthaginians and says it is maritime and arrives much later in history than Basque. Names like Solent, Solund, Tay, Tawe, Uist, Scilly, come from the language of this group. (Another paper says that there was an ‘Afroasiatic’ language in W Europe from the 5th or 4th millennium BC. Afroasiatic is a term for the vast language group which includes Berber in North Africa, Ancient Egyptian, and the Semitic languages.)

A longer summary is this, from a review by P. Baldi, and B. Richard Page: (where V means Vennemann)
>>After the last ice age, which ended about 11,000 years ago, Indo-European agriculturists, possibly originating in the Pannonian Basin of central Europe, migrated further into Europe in the sixth millennium BCE, arriving in Scandinavia beginning around the fourth millennium BCE. The migrating Indo-Europeans encountered other, non-IE people, who had started to settle there already in the eighth millennium BCE, i.e. several millennia after the last ice age, and had already named the European rivers, lakes, mountains and settlements. Thus the oldest water names are probably the oldest ‘‘linguistic documents’’ in Europe north of the Alps. The structure of these names betrays an agglutinating language with initial accent, no vowel quantity and a predominant vowel a. The language family responsible for these names is called by V ‘‘Vasconic’’, whose only surviving descendant is the Basque language of the Pyrenees. Additionally, there are toponyms on the Atlantic littoral which are neither Vasconic nor Indo-European. The prehistoric language responsible for these names (and other linguistic effects) is called by V the ‘‘Semitidic’’ (also ‘‘Atlantic’’), group of languages, i.e. languages related to the Mediterranean Hamito-Semitic languages, which were spoken along the European Atlantic seaboard from the fifth millennium BCE until the first millennium CE. These languages are held to have influenced the Indo-European languages of the northwest littoral from the fifth millennium BCE onward.<<

The Indo-Europeans were the second group to move in but won because they had agriculture - the Vasks were cattle breeders and apple growers.

Vennemann says that the etymon of vecher/feasgar/ vesper/ucher (words for evening in languages from Russian to Welsh) is EUSKARA the Basque name for Basques, viz. West people. West=evening and the Basques (once) occupied the West of the continent.

comments. I find this highly unconvincing. Perusing the review and the abstracts makes the whole thing seem vacuous. I can't see any valid etymologies, not one. So it was a theory which after collecting evidence has collapsed. There are thousands of words from the 'apple/plough/ pig' substrate and none of them are Semitic. If they were someone else would have noticed. There are two key papers by specialists (one by Terry Langedoen, on-line in American Linguist) which demolish Vennemann's claims about the 'source languages' in which he is not a specialist. The individual etymologies, the ‘engine room’ of the theory, don't hold up. The question is not whether he is right, since he may well be right, but whether there is any recoverable evidence which speaks in his favour. I do not see any. Possible links (like Uibhist = Ibiza) are compatible with sailor-names fixed by maritime passers-by whose affinities say nothing about the language of the major part of the population.

Beekes says that this theory has scarcely been investigated yet and so that it may develop into something.

The idea that Phoenicians had an influential role in the early history of Northwestern Europe goes back to Samuel Bochart in 1646 and Aylett Sammes ‘whose enchanting but bafflingly muddle-headed Britannia Antiqua Illustrata was first published in 1676‘ (Kendrick). Given that the Phoenicians got as far as Spain, and were expert at sailing, the speculation that they went up the Atlantic littoral was bound to be made by many antiquaries over the centuries. However, the concrete product of these enjoyable speculations is nil. Limited coastal contacts would not always have left traces that could be picked up 3000 years later.

This theory overlaps a great deal with the Morris-Jones/ Pokorny theory (below).

7. In 1900, John Morris-Jones proposed that a Hamitic substrate (from a language resembling the Berber languages and Ancient Egyptian) influenced Insular Celtic and accounted for its differences from classical Indo-European (and Continental Celtic). This theory has been around for a century. Can we sustain it, has any new evidence been developed?

summary.
“Following the hypothesis initially proposed by J. Morris-Jones (1900), several scholars have assumed that typologically unusual features found in Insular Celtic are borrowed from some unknown substratum, presumably belonging to the Afro-Asiatic family, where such features have also been attested. This hypothesis found some adherents in the following decades, such as Julius Pokorny, Heinrich Wagner and Orin Gensler, but it has been vigorously and convincingly
criticized in recent works by G. Isaac and K. McCone.” (Matasovic) By Insular Celtic we mean languages deriving from the British isles, such as Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton, as distinct from rather shadowy languages known as ‘Continental Celtic’. The Insular group has a number of very distinctive features which have not yet been found at all in the scraps of Continental Celtic.

comments. The 1900 theory has recently been developed and added to. Another suggestion (by Stephen Hewitt I think) is that there may have been a language C: massively present in NW Europe and influencing Celtic, and less present in N Africa and influencing Berber as a substrate. This illuminates the space of possibilities and is attractive.

I found on the Internet Graham Isaac's very convincing paper attacking the whole Morris-Jones line. However there is considerable recent activity on the other side and the outcome is far from clear. The lack of evidence is a problem - if we had a good picture of linguistic conditions in Spain in early times (say 1000 BC to 800 AD) then the truth would emerge one way or the other. As it is the recording of the Berber languages, for example, is so late in history that getting back to Bronze Age conditions calls for an activity close to delusion. There are early Berber texts, perhaps of the 13th C AD although I could find few details, but this is just too late. I am sceptical that we know what the Hamitic languages of the Atlantic Coast were like in 2000 BC. I doubt then that we can connect them to a substrate language in the British Isles.

Morris-Jones was, we can say, the first scholar to direct German linguistic method to the history of Welsh, and as a consequence had immense prestige in Wales throughout the 20th C. He also wrote prize-winning poetry in a rigid, classicising style. His definition of Welsh linguistic purity was so powerful that it was intimidating. When TJ Morgan wrote that writing Welsh was like writing ‘under the eyes of the Gestapo’ he was referring to the purism of Morris-Jones and his followers. (This phrase was the title of a recent book by Simon Brooks about the history of literary criticism in Wales.)

>>One may of course hypothesise anything. But then, in the case of hypothesising the existence of a language in Dark-Age Britain and Ireland, that language must be presented.<< (Graham Isaac, Galway) Isaac's intent in this paper was to disprove the theory of a 'Hamitic' substrate influencing Insular Celtic. I can’t find any decisive evidence either way but in that absence denying any connection between the Irish Sea Province and Morocco-Algeria is the neutral or minimal position.


8. The Nordwestblock. Was there an area (covering the Low Countries and northwest Germany) which in late prehistoric times was 'non Celtic non Germanic' and which spoke a different language ('Belgisch')? How far is this substrate represented in English? was this the language spoken by the Belgae who crossed the Channel to settle England?

summary.
This is the thesis of the book Völker Zwischen Kelten und Germanen, by Rolf Hachmann, Georg Kossack, and Hans Kuhn (1962), which approached the issue from linguistic, archaeological, and historical angles. They used the word ‘Nordwestblock’ (NWB). This separate people was submerged by the wars of resistance which were a reaction to major Roman invasions of 'Germany' in the first century AD, and the culture of the area was Germanic from that time on. The initial conquest may have involved only an ‘exchange of elites’ so that the mass of the population went on speaking the old language for a few generations.

Caesar, in the mid-1st century BC, divides Gaul between the Aquitani, Gauls and Belgae, and we may ascribe these groups to the Basque, Celtic and Nordwestblock peoples.

Kuhn developed the thesis greatly in later papers and found elements of 'NWB language' also further up the Rhine, for example around Trier.

comment
Gysseling probably wrote an article identifying a non-Germanic non-Celtic language in the Netherlands already in 1952 (not available to me). It must be the same language; Kuhn added evidence for a wider regional extent, on the coast between Holland and Denmark and further up the Rhine. I am assuming that Gysseling and Kuhn are describing the same theory, although they use different terminology.

Up until the arrival of writing, especially writing which survives until today, it is hard to allocate peoples to any linguistic group. The NWB theory relies on a belief that the limited number of non-classical languages which survived long enough to be written down roughly 600-1000 AD were not the complete set which had been thriving up till say 0 BC, and that the dynamics of the violence during the Volkerwanderung had allowed strong groups to expand but also caused weak ones to go under. So rather than define everything in NW Europe as tidily Celtic or Germanic you look for evidence on the linguistic affinities of any tribe or region. The result is that a whole area on the Lower Rhine and the North Sea coast emerges as (nonCeltic nonGermanic) and needs a new name. The distinction between Gmc and NonGmc is only of great interest if you subscribe to an ethnocentric view of later prehistory. The idea that all the historical agency of population groups depends on their ethnicity sounds distinctly 19th century and nationalistic. This idea was in part a reaction to the shortage of information in the relics of the past, of the Iron Age and early historical period. A sort of operatic way of making dumb artefacts sing. For most students, the domain of the Gmc languages is not a unity and they would not suppose that customs, laws, etc. obtain over the whole domain, without further proof. The unit of customs was presumably the tribe, of which there were hundreds; inscriptions and narrative texts very carefully record the names of tribes. The postulate of a 'third language group' is of interest to etymologists and there may in fact be an appreciable amount of lexical material for which an 'Indo-European' derivation is likely but which has unclear relations with Celtic and Germanic in their classical conceptions.

The NWB theory is as robust as it can be in the absence of any written text in this profoundly missing language. As Kuhn identifies Belgish as Indo-European it cannot be the substrate language we are looking for and it has nothing new to offer on the ‘demic diffusion’ theory in article 5.

Caesar decribes large scale invasions of eastern England by the Belgae, who were there when he landed on the island. If we follow Gysseling then the speech of these Balgae may have included Belgic, Nordwestblock, elements, which were non-Celtic. These may have included both Germanic and non-Germanic elements. If the Anglo-Saxons spent a century or two in the South Netherlands, they lived in an area teeming with Belgic words (possibly even population groups) and may have picked up a wealth of such vocabulary there before crossing the Channel. That is two 'ports of entry' and the evidence should be examined (Gysseling was not interested in languages in Britain).

I surmise that the place to look for older Belgic words is in Welsh. The search for Belgic words is on. If we accept Dutch knauwen/ knagen as a Belgic root then Welsh cnoi 'chew' is presumably from the same root. (but cf. Irish cognaim?)

Estimates of the population of the Netherlands in prehistory do not point to a very large number of speakers of this lost language (or group of languages). We are looking at a population which combined pastoralism with fishing and seafaring, with a minimal input of field crops. The nature of the terrain in the NWB would seem to point against the presence of a rich agricultural people capable of transmitting so many important words to the uncouth Germani. Even if we double the numbers to allow for a much larger area being included in the NWB than just the Netherlands, the total does not sound very impressive.

The topic i]opens onto the idea that the boundaries of linguistic groups may not be the significant boundaries in the ethnographic history of Europe, and that real 'cultural regions' may be smaller and more persistent than the whole areas covered by languages and states. Emmanuel Todd has given gripping examples of this in his analysis of European family structure as the basis for political cultures, finding in particular that different parts of France have quite different family structures in modern times. He sites these in cohesive 'culture provinces' which would therefore be the real units of history, with States as small, elite, conspiratorial blocks travelling above the population as a whole, whose history was unrecovered until recent decades. Thus, the Low Countries are evidently distinct from the neighbouring regions without this identity being reflected by major linguistic differences. Moreover, French-speaking Belgians are like other Netherlanders and not like the French. All this can be connected to a continuity with an much earlier state of affairs: where the Netherlands were ethnically distinct from the regions around them. Naturally the borders of the 'Lower Rhine province' have shifted over the centuries.

The 'Belgic' group produced the feminine -stjo- ending, so that 'spinster' and 'baxter' are feminines. And the word 'brook'. A search for further traces in England would be of great interest. It is quite unclear to me whether this NWB language was also spoken across the sea, here in England. I am not aware of any scan of the Welsh vocabulary.

An interesting example of a Belgic word analysed by Gysseling is pinky, Dutch pink, the little finger. Gysseling says that this word means ‘five’, as the thumb is the first digit. The word is only known in the Netherlands (the American word is a loan from Dutch settlers) and in Scotland. It bears a very satisfying resemblance to the agreed IE word for five, ‘penkwe’. ‘Pink’ compares with Greek pente and Slavic pyat. It should mean ‘five’. It is not Celtic (Welsh ‘pump’, Irish ‘coich’). It must be IE and so is further evidence that Belgish was an Indo-European language.


9. The Minoan-Hattite-Celtic thesis
I was searching for stuff from the Leiden Substrate Group and came across this:

http://www2.let.uu.nl/Solis/homelet/publicaties/lezingenreeks/pdf/Schrijver_Peter_oratie.pdf

- an inaugural from the professor of Celtic languages at Leiden. He writes about a Celtic substrate in the formation of Dutch/ Old Saxon/ Northern French and it is all going swimmingly. He talks about north and south Celtic and the complex verb in Irish. Then he starts to explain that the complex verb is a sign of relationship to Minoan and Hattite and that the original farmers were Minoan-Hattites. Even though we can't actually read Minoan texts. Schrijver says that the compound verb of Insular Celtic reveals the affinity of that language with two languages of the second millennium BC, Minoan and also Hattite, a non-IE language recorded in the archives at Boghazkoy. He connects this also with the North Caucasus. I have not examined the question, but since we cannot read either Minoan or Hattite it is far from certain that the mentioned words are verbs or that their form shows a multiple compound construction.

Schrijver says that the Celtic languages are the spider at the centre of the web of early European linguistic relations.

comment. I think comment is unnecessary. I will merely wave towards a spider in the corner.



A note on the move away from word endings as bearers of meaning
It seems deeply unreasonable to declare that the processes affecting French, German, Spanish, Welsh and English (less morphology, more auxiliaries, roughly) are completely independent phenomena. Clearly the languages sharing this process are geographically contiguous and the ones impervious to it are outside that area, also forming a grouping. It is possible that in some ways Gaelic, the most peripheral of these languages, has gone furthest along the road. It seems equally irrational to state that the processes leading to the origin of Germanic, with its radical loss of noun cases and so on, were really unrelated to the process which led to the shift from Middle English to modern English, in the 14th century - and more than 2000 years later. This was a change which continued along its own axis - outdistancing itself, you could say.
The move of European languages (mainly Western European?) from declension morphology to the use of auxiliaries and word order (and restricted morphology) is a problem which linguists may have no defensible and encompassing answer to.

If it was already well under way in 1000 BC, why was it still advancing quite rapidly in the 18th C AD?

If it had such an impetus behind it, what was resisting that impetus for most of those 3000 years? Why was the war unwinnable? If morphology was so strong, why did it lose its empire -and where did the anti-morphology impulse or principle come from?

If it was 'modernisation' in Sweden or England, why did it not occur at all in Russia or Lithuania (or in India)?

The change has limits in space as well as time. It has spread from the archaic West to Italy and Greece. This distribution has led to its being associated with the Roman Empire, but it has made progress in areas where the Empire never reached or among peoples (the English) who were never subject to the Empire. It is as conspicuous in Rumanian as in French.

Surely we are not going not say that speaking Russian is awkward and difficult? Russians do it quite fluently.

When something is insatiable, does that mean it is also frustrating? Not
fulfilling itself? Or just that this is Progress?



Conclusion

It is normal to learn surviving old languages and to read the texts written in them, for example the Mabinogion, Beowulf, Heimskringla, or the Tain. One cannot go beyond without accepting certain conditions and becoming in some way like a phantom, living on air. It is a mirage to think that you can know a language without learning it.

The recovery of languages which do not have any considerable texts is an experience of poverty, abnormal in comparison to the study of recoverable texts and languages. Where evidence is incomplete, speculation is a commendable act. The lit space of written record is in Europe surrounded on all sides by the darkness of the unrecorded and the penumbra of what is fitfully splashed by flickers from the lit zone. Those who choose to go out into the darkness with its fragments of light do so presumably because they enjoy the speculation - something close to emptiness. Speculation is closely related to ignorance but can be the stepfather of knowledge. Before reaching written form, speculation itself must be subjected to the tests of reason, including comparison with all available sets of real evidence.

Reading a text involves having committed say 5000 words to memory (counts vary, it may be more) and being involved with lost languages may appeal partly because that phase of memorisation can be skipped. This however gives linguistics with the language taken out. The introduction of wrong hypotheses to their mortality clears the air and lets the truth peep out. The lit zone of language history is surrounded by phantoms claiming to be real parts of history. Some are not even phantoms but stray noises making themselves out to be phantoms.