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Academic Paper

Title: Celtic Influence on Old English and West Germanic
Author: Angelika Lutz
Institution: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universität Erlangen
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics
Subject Language: English, Old
Subject LANGUAGE Family: West Germanic; Insular Celtic
Abstract: This article concentrates on the question of language contact between English and Celtic in the period between the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britannia (?AD 449) and the Norman conquest of England (AD 1066) but in some places reaches out to West Germanic times and to the period after the Norman conquest. It focuses on a certain region, that of the Southern Lowlands, mainly Anglo-Saxon Wessex, and deals with evidence that has been mentioned before: (1) the twofold paradigm of ‘to be’ and (2) the Old English designations for Celts that refer to their status as slaves. The article demonstrates that both the syntactic and the lexico-semantic evidence is particularly concentrated in West Saxon texts. Together, both types of evidence are shown to support the assumption that a very substantial Celtic population exerted substratal influence on (pre-)Old English by way of large-scale language shift in one of the early heartlands of England. This substratal Insular Celtic influence on Old English is contrasted with the adstratal Celtic influence on continental West Germanic.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 13, Issue 2.

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