The Anglo-Saxon reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Anglo-Saxon

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The Anglo-Saxons were the Germanic-speaking tribes that invaded Britain, especially England, after the collapse of the Roman Empire. (see Anglo-Saxons)

Today the term "Anglo-Saxon" is used to refer to the English ethnic group, as opposed to "Scottish", "Irish", "Welsh" and "Cornish" (which was otherwise known as British).

For over a hundred years, "Anglo-Saxon" has been used as pertaining to the Anglophone cosmopolitan societies of predominantly Western character, (North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the British Isles) describing their intellectual traditions and national characters, as opposed to "Gallic", "Teutonic", "Hispanic".

"Anglo-Saxon" can also mean the original Germanic component of the English language, as opposed to the many loanwords the language has obtained, especially from Viking and Romance languages. (see also Old English language)

Table of contents
1 Anglo-Saxon Language
2 "Anglo-Saxon Attitudes"
3 See Also

Anglo-Saxon Language

Anglo-Saxon was the language spoken under Alfred the Great and lasted as the common language of much of Britain - mostly what is now known as England - until the Norman Conquest (1066 A.D.) morphed the language of Britain into "Anglo-Norman". Also known as "Old English (OE)", as distinguished from "Middle English (ME)", or Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon is far more Germanic (i.e. less Latinized) than Middle English.

Orthography. The letters regularly used in printed and edited texts of OE are as follows:

a æ b c d ð e f g h i l m n o p r s t þ u w x y and the following are rarely used: k z

Irregular verbs in English, which indicate Anglo-Saxon origins by either a shift in vowels (ex. for past tenses) or inflected suffixes into Anglo-Saxon forms (for irregular verbs, not "-ed" as used as a suffix for regular verb's past tense), are generally derived from Anglo-Saxon. Over time many irregular verbs have morphed to regular forms (i.e. past "hung" vs. now "hanged", "broken" (classic OE form), linguistically "correct", is now often ("incorrectly") altered to the simpler "broke", etc.).

"Anglo-Saxon Attitudes"

For over a hundred years Anglo-Saxon attitudes have been a reproachful cry of those who perceived themselves downtrodden (and in some cases were) by a confident triumphalist culture emanating from Great Britain. Like most resilient cultures, the "Anglo-Saxons" turned all criticisms to humor. (Compare also the Quakers' embrace of the term "Quaker.")

"Anglo-Saxon attitudes" was a cliché by the time Lewis Carroll spoofed the phrase in Through the Looking Glass (1871):

"All this was lost on Alice, who was still looking intently along the road, shading her eyes with one hand. `I see somebody now!' she exclaimed at last. `But he's coming very slowly— and what curious attitudes he goes into!'

(For the Messenger kept skipping up and down, and wriggling like an eel, as he came along, with his great hands spread out like fans on each side.)

`Not at all,' said the King. `He's an Anglo-Saxon Messenger— and those are Anglo-Saxon attitudes.'"

The cliché remains lively: Angus Wilson's satiric novel, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes was published in 1956. In it, a grotesque idol discovered in Bishop Eorpwald's tomb has scandalized, mystified and inspired a whole generation of scholars. As a young man Gerald Middleton was involved with the dig. Now an eminent historian, he is privately haunted by a sense of failure, both as a man and as a scholar. The novel was turned into a made-for-TV movie in 1991.

When John Maddocks reviewed Carleton S. Coon's The Origin of Races for the first issue of New York Review of Books in February 1963, the header was "Anglo-Saxon attitudes." And when a new museum was opened at Canterbury, Kent on the site of St. Augustine's abbey, History Today headed its report, "Anglo-Saxon attitudes."

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes was a historical conference "in pursuit of the English" to define the evolution of this cultural self-image. It was held at the University of Salford, U.K., July 9 - 11, 1999.

Compare "gringo" and "wasp" (the tautological "white Anglo- Saxon protestant").


See Also