English a Fourth Branch of the Germanic Family?

billgregg   Tue Mar 06, 2007 6:50 pm GMT
A new view of the Germanic languages that is apparently winning some converts. From the New York Times:

"Dr. Oppenheimer has relied on work by Peter Forster, a geneticist at Anglia Ruskin University, to argue that Celtic is a much more ancient language than supposed, and that Celtic speakers could have brought knowledge of agriculture to Ireland, where it first appeared. He also adopts Dr. Forster’s argument, based on a statistical analysis of vocabulary, that English is an ancient, fourth branch of the Germanic language tree, and was spoken in England before the Roman invasion.

English is usually assumed to have developed in England, from the language of the Angles and Saxons, about 1,500 years ago. But Dr. Forster argues that the Angles and the Saxons were both really Viking peoples who began raiding Britain ahead of the accepted historical schedule. They did not bring their language to England because English, in his view, was already spoken there, probably introduced before the arrival of the Romans by tribes such as the Belgae, whom Caesar describes as being present on both sides of the Channel."

The full article can be read at:


It deals more with genetics than with linguistics, but I thought it was an interesting read.
Skippy   Tue Mar 06, 2007 6:57 pm GMT
Interesting stuff... I'm interested to see what the linguistics community has to say about it...

I'm skeptical... lol