Episode 116: The Celtic Fringe

In this episode, we explore the state of the English language outside of England in the early 1300s. This story takes us to the regions where Celtic languages were traditionally spoken. In some of those regions, English had little or no influence. But in parts of Scotland, English had been a native language since the Anglo-Saxon period. During this period, the Scots were engaged in a battle for independence from England, and that struggle was captured in the first piece of literature in the emerging Scots dialect of English.


16 thoughts on “Episode 116: The Celtic Fringe

  1. Re the heritage of ȝogh, there’s a bunch of place names and family names in Scotland that reflect this spelling and pronunciation combination. Notably the family names Menzies (Mingus) and Dalzell (Dee-ell).

  2. Have you ever considered doing a podcast about law? Like, roman law or ancient germanic law?

    Im a great fan of history. And ancient law coedexes brings us close to the people that lived then. I mean, the only reason to forbid something is because people are doing it.

    Finding old law cases is also really interesting and fascinating. Like the village that kept petitioning more central authorities to declare an old woman a witch and central authorities repeatedly dismissing it. We can imagine the drama and friction between people behind that case. Or the the maid that was unfaithful to her farmlabourer husband in 17th centuary sweden (capital punishment) and defending with that the marriage was not consumated. Which her husband admitted. The husband was called up to the local governor several times for inspection. A comitte was formed that repeatedly examined the husband and the couple was sent back several times to do better until the marriage was anulled.

    Or the deep deep wisdom behind the Brocards.

    Anyway, so much history in law. Its like language that way. And your podcast is just so fascinating and amazing, using laungauge as a conduit to history. When I listened to your last show, I just thought that law might function the same way? Oh well, should not distract you from the fantastic podcast that you do. Best of the best. But when you finished explaining all of the english language, past and present, and all of the history of the englishspeaking peoples. Maybe then?

  3. Ok, maybe my examples of court cases were more selacious than interesting. Its just that History of English Podcast has made it clear to me what a fantstic gate to history language is. How history becomes so real when seen through language, it is here and now, with us today.
    And just got that thought that law does something similar but maybe not as much.

    • Hi Klas. I have actually considered your idea, and I may pursue it at some point in the distant future when this podcast is done. As you may know, I am a practicing attorney so my educational background is primarily focused on law. I am not sure if I want to cover the same ground as this podcast in a slightly different way, but if I ever do another podcast, it will probably have a legal theme.

      • Yes, I knew you worked with law. Law is boring to normal people. But thats, well, I listened to some interviews with Justice Scalia. And I think both sides of the political divide admit that his, i dont know the term, his opinions in his verdicts are written with, in an attractive way.

        Today, noone can know all the law. So law people specialize. But not even experts can know all the law in their special field. And yet, all us citizens must follow all the laws. Is that not strange?
        Compare this to non literate people? Then a man could know all the law. The lawspeaker of Iceland had to recite a third of the law each year at the allthing.
        Ive heard a little bit about Gypsies in Europe that still have an oral law. They live as a separate universe inside their host societies. So this tradition still exist, amazingly. And they still have temporary banishment from the community as a harsh punishment. Anyway, thats another thing I find intriguing about law and history, this conflict between the complexity of the law today. And such things.

  4. I’ve been binging this wonderful podcast for a few weeks now. Being Irish I was excited to get to the “Celtic Fringes” episode (sure we all love a mention of our home place, don’t we?) and the whole time you were leading up to the Statutes of Kilkenny, I was wondering to myself, “will he say it?”

    And alas, you did not!

    To explain:

    Every single person in Ireland, on being taught about the Anglo-Normans in Ireland and the Statutes of Kilkenny, is told the same thing about them. It’s a quote from a contemporary description of the Irish Norman rulers, and it is “they became more Irish than the Irish themselves.”

    I once alarmed a friend’s German partner by prompting a car-full of us to all chant it in unison.

  5. Kevin, first off I want to say how much I am enjoying this podcast. I started at the beginning, and one of these days I will catch up. Now I have a question. Do you possibly know of a podcast or book that focuses on the Celtic languages, in a manner similar to the way you have focused on the English language?

  6. I’ve been laughing all day at your comment about Edward II:
    “There’s an old saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
    But in this case, the apple fell in a completely different orchard”
    So true!

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