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

James Walker (
Tue, 8 Aug 1995 14:29:16 GMT

In <>, (Glynis Baguley) writes:
>In article <> (James Walker) writes:
>> In <3vheci$>, (Anthea F Gupta) writes:
>> >Glynis Baguley ( wrote:
>> > [...]
>> >: 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.
>I've noted the references, but I still have trouble with the idea that
>all the Normans were of high social class, and all the English low.
>Did not the invading Normans include some hewers of wood and drawers
>of water, or at least rowers of boats and ordinary soldiers? And were
>all the English aristocrats slain at the Battle of Hastings? Surely
>not. Were all the lowly Normans promptly ennobled, and the English
>aristocrats forced to perform menial tasks for the conquerors? It's
>very difficult to imagine that there was this neat divide between posh
>ruling Normans and vulgar down-trodden English.

The Normans did not migrate to England _en masse_. The Normans
who ruled England were primarily nobility, upper-ranks military and
scholars. Furthermore, the English nobility at that time was more
Scandinavian than Anglo-Saxon (I'm going from memory here, but
I think that the kings of England from about 1020 to 1066 were Danish)
and were numerically in the minority anyway. I don't see why it's hard
to accept that, in a feudal society with fairly rigidly-defined social classes,
there would be little contact between the nobility and the lower classes.
Read the sources I quoted and the works they reference and maybe
you'll have less trouble with the idea.

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.