On Thursday, July 11, 2002, at 01:34 , Thomas Leigh wrote:
> Abrigon Gusiq (what are you, Albanian?) done said:
>> I have heard of studies on how Anglo-Saxon was changed a little bit
>> cause the previous population in Britain was Roman/Celtic, but not
> "sticking". For example: The "continuous" or "progressive" tenses using
> the verb "to be" plus a participle construction, e.g. "I am speaking",
> "I was eating", etc. This construction does not exist in any other
> Germanic language (well, Scots, but that's also an Anglo-Saxon
> descendant in the British Isles) nor did it exist in Anglo Saxon (as far
> as I know). However, it does exist, and is very common, in every single
> surviving Celtic language (including Breton, which has developed under
> the influence of French, which lacks the construction). And English (and
> Scots too) is the only Germanic language which has shared territory with
> the Celtic languages.
Yep - I'm darn sure it's far too much of a coincidence that such similar
constructions developed in the diverse langs of Britain & ireland. There
must IMO have been cross-linguistic influences at work here.
AFAIK there is also no evidence of this construction in what we know of
ancient Gallic. It seems to have been an insular development.
I remember a few years back we had a longish thread on this topic which,
for some reason I still cannot fathom to this very day, turned somewhat
sour. I suspect the origins may have developed in Britain as a result of
creolization as non-IE inhabitants adopted, for whatever reason, the IE
langs which developed into those we now term 'Celtic'. But this is pure
speculation. It is one of those topics I'd dearly like to be able to
when I retire :)
> Also, if you look at English as spoken in places where Gaelic is/was
> also spoken -- Scots, Scottish English, Hibernian English -- there's
> even more. Lots of Gaelic loans, to be sure, but even more striking,
> lots of direct translations out of Gaelic -- English words, but Gaelic
> sentence structure. For example "at the one time" for "at the same
> time", "he's after hitting me" for "he has hit me", etc. Exactly the
> Gaelic idioms, just with the Gaelic words replaced with English words.
That is because English came late to these areas and was learnt as
an L2. That's also why the English of the highlanders is so clearly
pronounced & is a joy to hear. Whereas the lowlanders evolved their
'Scots English' from early Saxon with Norse additions in parallel to us
south of the border and the result is the modern lowland dialects that
we southern Saxons often have difficulty in understanding.