Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Claudius' revenge?

In the year 43 AD, the armies of the stuttering bookworm Emperor Claudius conquered the British Barbarians, thus making Britain a province of the Roman Empire. The Anglo-Saxon language, however, was never completely replaced by Latin, but with William the Conqueror's takeover of England at the Battle of Hastings (1066 AD), the English language was infused with a healthy dose of Latin via the French language.

In the middle ages, Latin continued to be written and spoken in England as a second language by educated people, by the Church, by professors and students, and by various professionals. Following the Reformation, Latin began to die off, and especially in the 20th century, Latin really began to recede even as an academic subject.

And then we English speaking peoples reverted to Barbarism.

However, the Romans, it seems, have staged a posthumous assault on us Anglophile Barbarians.
The following article from the UK argues that there is a great resurgence of interest in the Latin language in Great Britain. Hopefully, this interest will likewise reach a crescendo among us American Anglophile Barbarians as well!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Beane,

Being a rather pedantic English major, I am compelled to offer a small point of clarification. At the time of Claudius’s invasion of Britain, the inhabitants of that island were Celtic, not Anglo-Saxon. The Anglo-Saxons arrived centuries later; oftentimes, the year of AD 449 is said to have been the start of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. I do not believe that you intended to say that the inhabitants of Britain during the time of Claudius were Anglo-Saxon, but the post could be read that way.

You are perfectly correct, however, in stating that Latin never managed to displace Anglo-Saxon (or Old English). Prior to the Norman Conquest, England had an extraordinarily rich tradition of literature in the vernacular. The most famous work from this tradition is, of course, Beowulf.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy T. Goossens

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jeremy:

Yes, indeed, thanks for the clarification, and thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Beane,

You are most welcome.

Last night, I made the following statement: “Prior to the Norman Conquest, England had an extraordinarily rich tradition of literature in the vernacular.” This statement could be taken to mean that after the Norman Conquest the writing of all vernacular literature ceased. Such a notion is, of course, absurd. The inhabitants of England continued to produce vernacular literature, but the Anglo-Saxon literary tradition lost its dominance.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy T. Goossens