WR - jhartel <jhartel at net-link.net>: History of the English language (fwd)

Dennis J Dolan djdolan at juno.com
Thu Apr 30 18:58:39 PDT 1998


--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
From: jhartel <jhartel at net-link.net>
To: theodric at vvm.com, bwilliams at htcomp.net,
alba4me at majik-net.com,haldan at datasync.com, rroberts at vvm.com,
maleah at swbell.net,stddly at SHSU.edu, pagan at lcc.net,
lyoness100 at hotmail.com,djdolan at juno.com, pdaude at PROFDATA.COM,
cathyo at rocketmail.com
Subject: History of the English language (fwd)
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 11:13:31 +0000
Message-ID: <35485CDB.23D6 at net-link.net>
References: <Pine.OSF.3.95.980430132050.4323B-100000 at sable.ox.ac.uk>

Howdy ya'll!  Got this off of the Middle-Bridge and thought it was
amusing.

Enjoy,
Janet***
And I agree
doran

> The History of the English Language
> 
> by Owen Alun and Brendan O'Corraidhe
> 
> In the beginning there was an island off the coast of Europe. It had no
> name, for the natives had no language, only a collection of grunts and
> gestures that roughly translated to "Hey!", "Gimme!", and "Pardon me,
but
> would you happen to have any woad?"
> 
> Then the Romans invaded it and called it Britain, because the natives
were
> "blue, nasty, br(u->i)tish and short." This was the start of the
importance
> of u (and its mispronounciation) to the language. After building some
roads,
> killing off some of the nasty little blue people and walling up the
rest,
> the Romans left, taking the language instruction manual with them.
> 
> The British were bored so they invited the barbarians to come over
(under
> Hengist) and "Horsa" 'round a bit. The Angles, saxons, and Jutes
brought
> slightly more refined vocal noises.
> 
> All of the vocal sounds of this primitive language were onomatapoedic,
being
> derived from the sounds of battle. Consonants were were derived from
the
> sounds of weapons striking a foe. ("Sss" and "th" for example are the
sounds
> of a draw cut, "k" is the sound of a solidly landed axe blow, "b", "d",
are
> the sounds of a head dropping onto rock and sod respectively, and "gl"
is
> the sound of a body splashing into a bog. Vowels (which were either
gargles
> in the back of the throat or sharp exhalations) were derived from the
sounds
> the foe himself made when struck.
> 
> The barbarians had so much fun that decided to stay for post-revel. The
> British, finding that they had lost future use of the site, moved into
the
> hills to the west and called themselves Welsh.
> 
> The Irish, having heard about language from Patrick, came over to
> investigate. When they saw the shiny vowels, they pried them loose and
took
> them home. They then raided Wales and stole both their cattle and their
> vowels, so the poor Welch had to make do with sheep and consonants.
("Old Ap
> Ivor hadde a farm, L Y L Y W! And on that farm he hadde somme gees.
With a
> dd dd here and a dd dd there...")
> 
> To prevent future raids, the Welsh started calling themselves "Cymry"
and
> gave even longer names to their villages. They figured if no one could
> pronounce the name of their people or the names of their towns, then no
one
> would visit them. (The success of the tactic is demonstrated still
today.
> How many travel agents have YOU heard suggest a visit to scenic
> Llyddumlmunnyddthllywddu?)
> 
> Meantime, the Irish brought all the shiny new vowels home to Erin. But
of
> course they didn't know that there was once an instruction manual for
them,
> so they scattered the vowels throughout the language purely as
ornaments.
> Most of the new vowels were not pronounced, and those that were were
> pronounced differently depending on which kind of consonant they were
either
> preceding or following.
> 
> The Danes came over and saw the pretty vowels bedecking all the Irish
words.
> "Ooooh!" they said. They raided Ireland and brought the vowels back
home
> with them. But the Vikings couldn't keep track of all the Irish rules
so
> they simply pronounced all the vowels "oouuoo."
> 
> In the meantime, the French had invaded Britain, which was populated by
> descendants of the Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. After a
generation or
> two, the people were speaking German with a French accent and calling
it
> English. Then the Danes invaded again, crying "Oouuoo! Oouuoo!,"
burning
> abbeys, and trading with the townspeople.
> 
> The Britons that the Romans hadn't killed intermarried with visiting
Irish
> and became Scots. Against the advice of their travel agents, they
descided
> to visit Wales. (The Scots couldn't read the signposts that said, "This
way
> to LLyddyllwwyddymmllwylldd," but they could smell sheep a league
away.) The
> Scots took the sheep home with them and made some of them into haggis.
What
> they made with the others we won't say, but Scots are known to this day
for
> having hairy legs.
> 
> The former Welsh, being totally bereft, moved down out of the hills and
into
> London. Because they were the only people in the Islands who played
flutes
> instead of bagpipes, they were called Tooters. This made them very
popular.
> In short order, Henry Tooter got elected King and begin popularizing
ornate,
> unflattering clothing.
> 
> Soon, everybody was wearing ornate, unflattering clothing, playing the
> flute, speaking German with a French accent, pronouncing all their
vowels
> "oouuoo" (which was fairly easy given the French accent), and making
lots of
> money in the wool trade. Because they were rich, people smiled more
> (remember, at this time, "Beowulf" and "Canterbury Tales" were the only
> tabloids, and gave generally favorable reviews even to Danes). And
since it
> is next to impossible to keep your vowels in the back of your throat
(even
> if you do speak German with a French accent) while smiling and saying
> "oouuoo" (try it, you'll see what I mean), the Great Vowel Shift came
about
> and transformed the English language.
> 
> The very richest had their vowels shifted right out in front of their
teeth.
> They settled in Manchester and later in Boston.
> 
> There were a few poor souls who, cut off from the economic prosperity
of the
> wool trade, continued to swallow their vowels. They wandered the
countryside
> in misery and despair until they came to the docks of London, where
their
> dialect devolved into the incomprehensible language known as Cockney.
Later,
> it was taken overseas and further brutalized by merging it with Dutch
and
> Italian to create Brooklynese.
> 
> That's what happened, you can check for yourself. But I advise you to
just
> take our word for it.
> 
> Copyright (c) 1994 Corrie Bergeron and Ben Tucker all rights reserved
> 
> Permissions: This may be reproduced in SCA newsletters for non-
commercial
> purposes only. (i.e., If you make any money off of it, send us a cut.)
> 
> Owen Alun is a wandering Cornish poet and harper. Ben Tucker is a
hardware
> tech support specialist.
>

--------- End forwarded message ----------

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