I responded that, “I know, because I’ve historically researched it for years, especially when I was tracing my ‘Scottish’ roots. The results of that search are at It’s In The Jeans, if you’re interested.
Let’s start 2000 years ago, when what would later become England, was sparsely settled, and the language was the various dialects of Celtic tribes, like the Iceni, whose Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) was so badly treated by the invading Romans.
The Romans added many words to the mix, including much Latin, but only the officers were “Romans.” The spear-carriers and their polyglot languages came from all around the Mediterranean. Traders from far and wide visited the shores also. Christ’s uncle, Joseph 0f Arimathea, supposedly traded along the western coast, bringing Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
Around 900 AD, the Germanic Jutes, Angles, and Saxons arrived, making themselves and their languages at home. The Jutes somehow just disappeared, but the Angles and Saxons became “Anglo-Saxon.” The ‘Angle land’ kingdoms became the ‘England’ of today. Their language mixed with the Romano-Celtic, with additions from Scottish Picts, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Welsh, becoming Old English, a term only applied today.
A hundred years later, William the Conqueror, invaded the island. He was the king of the French province of Breton, bringing the term ‘Britain’ to the language. Many new words and terms were added. Although consumption was in French, production was still in ‘English.’ Veau, boeuf, porc, and poulet were eaten by French nobles as veal, beef, pork, and poultry, while peasants still raised ‘English’ calves, cows, pigs, and chickens.
Norse Vikings, whose language also carried much Germanic influence, began raiding, and settling, adding some of their words to the olio. The rise of the British Empire brought back words from all over the globe, Asia (Hong Kong), and hundreds from India.
The Kings and Queens of Europe were all inter-related, bringing in words from Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Russia. The British Royal Family were German Battenbergs until WW I forced them to become English Mountbattens.
As new words were added, old terms fell out of use. Some old English words are still in dictionaries as archaic. Shewed and shewn became showed and shown, and thee, thou, thy and thine became you, your and yours.
It’s like trying to nail fog to a tree. There never was (and still isn’t) a time when there was a true English language. It all came from somewhere else. It is the tongue of immigrants, traders and conquerors – and a most excellent tool for communication.
Word is, that there will be another, fascinating post here in two days. I will use these immigrant words to describe how elated I am that you visit. 😀