Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Cute Angles PS

By way of follow-up to the previous post I should mention the intriguing note on Anglo-Saxon which appears in the OED up to the 1989 second edition but is absent from the (brand-new) draft revision of September 2009:

For these there was apparently at first no collective name; subsequently, the name Englisc (Anglish, English) was extended from the dialect of the Angles (the first to be committed to writing) to all dialects of the vernacular, whether Anglian or Saxon; and Angul-cynn (Angle-kin, gens Anglorum), and later still, during the struggle with the Danes, ‘English’ and ‘Englishman,’ to all speakers of the vernacular in any dialect Angle or Saxon. After the Norman Conquest, the natives and the new incomers were at first distinguished as ‘English’ and ‘French,’ but, as the latter also became in a few generations ‘English’ politically and geographically, men's notions of ‘English’ changed accordingly, so that the 12th c. chroniclers could no longer apply the word distinctively to the people of Edward the Confessor and Harold, for whom therefore they recalled the name ‘Saxon,’ applicable enough to the West Saxon dynasty, but incorrect when extended to the whole Angle-kin over whom they ruled. At the hands of the Latin chroniclers, often foreigners, to whom the historical relations of Saxons and Angles were not very obvious, a similar extension of meaning had been given to Anglo-Saxones. But this name did not reappear in English till after 1600, when, with the revival of OE. learning, historians and philologists again felt the need of distinguishing English ‘Saxon’ from the Saxon of Germany. The modern use dates from Camden, who himself used Anglo-Saxon-es, -icus, in Latin, and English Saxon in his vernacular works. His translator adapted the Lat. as Anglo-Saxon, which gradually displaced ‘English Saxon,’ first as n., and finally as adj. also. But it was applied, as Saxon had been for 500 years erroneously applied, to ‘Old English’ as a whole. This has led in turn to an erroneous analysis of the word, which has been taken as = Angle + Saxon, a union of Angle and Saxon; and in accordance with this mistaken view, modern combinations have been profusely formed in which Anglo- is meant to express ‘English and..’, ‘English in connexion with..’, as ‘the Anglo-Russian war’; whence, on the same analogy, Franco-German, Turko-Russian, etc.

Ah! Removed for political reasons?
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