Re: Is English a creole? (was: Indo-European Studies)

James Walker (
Mon, 31 Jul 1995 14:11:00 GMT

In <3vheci$>, (Anthea F Gupta) writes:
>Glynis Baguley ( wrote:
>: In article <> (James Walker) writes:
>: >
>: > This analysis completely ignores the language-contact situation prior to
>: > the Norman invasion: the viking invasions and the establishment of the
>: > Danelaw (viking-occupied England) in the 9th century. This, more than
>: > the French occupation, is likely to have led to the levelling of grammatical
>: > paradigms, because the "Danes" and the Anglo-Saxons in these areas
>: > would have been in intimate and prolonged contact and would have
>: > been intermarrying, a situation that did not hold with the later French-
>: > speaking nobility.
>: Is this known for certain? Was there really no intermarriage between
>: the Normans and the English? Why not? This seems somewhat implausible.

I can't cite specific sources offhand, but check out Thomason and Kaufman
(1988), which was cited earlier in this thread, and possibly Barbara Strang's
(1970?) _A History of English_. There was a large social gap between the
occupying Normans, who constituted the nobility, scholars and clerics, and
the Anglo-Saxons, who were the farmers, peasants, and soldiers.

>It's a question of numbers. The Normans were few in number & of
>generally higher social class. It's what happens among the toiling
>masses that matters....

The numbers may not matter. In language-contact situations, a small number
of speakers can exert a disproportionate influence. What seems to me to be
more important is the status of the group and its relationship to "the toiling

James Walker, Toronto Information Development, IBM Canada
Alternate address:
"You can have anything in this world provided you genuinely
don't want it." -- George Orwell
Disclaimer: The above views are mine, not those of IBM.