Chapter

The Britons and their Languages

T. M. Charles-Edwards

in Wales and the Britons, 350-1064

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780198217312
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744778 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198217312.003.0003

Series: History of Wales

The Britons and their Languages

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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In the fifth and sixth centuries three languages were spoken among the Britons: British, Latin, and Irish. By about 700 only British was normally spoken and it thus became possible to identify the Britons as the speakers of British. Not until the end of the period was Welsh seen by contemporaries as a language distinct from Cornish, Breton, and Cumbric (the British language of Northern Britain). These languages influenced each other, but Latin had been a particularly strong influence on British from the first century AD. Changes in the languages of western Europe were often parallel, probably because of wide bilingualism and the influence of Latin.

Keywords: British Celtic; British Latin; Welsh; language and national identity

Chapter.  20625 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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