Wednesday, January 06, 2016


It is a commonplace to say that the British are a people of mixed blood. I indicate a little how, when, and why this mingling of races occurred.
This is how language changes and cultural changes occur. The quote is from 1926, by the eminent British historian G.M.Trevelyan, and the "races" and mixed blood he refers to are Celts (Gaels, Picts), Britons, Scandinavians, the triad of Angles/Jutes/Saxons, the Normans, plus a smattering of Others. Indeed, for the nine centuries 166 to 1066 those are the races of Briton, and for the nine centuries 1066 to 1966, no one else entered.  Some Frisians and Huguenots, or the occasional interesting colonial. Though even of the latter, most were returning Britons or Saxons, not natives of other parts of the world.

Words change culture and culture changes words.


Earl Wajenberg said...

From memory:
Harriet Vane: "I don't think compromise works."
Lord Peter Wimsey: "That I should live to hear someone of English blood blaspheme against compromise!"
Harriet: "Oh, I'm not all English. I've got bits of Scotch and Irish tucked away here and there.
Peter: "There, that proves it! The English are the only race that boasts of being mongrel. So compromise is in the blood. I'm quite offensively English, myself, being one eighth French.

-- Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers

(Only the English aren't the only ones.)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That is a tremendous quote.