Historical background to Old English Language
It is the year 449 and Britain is being invaded by waves of Germanic tribes: the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. In time, the invaders will become the founders of the English nation and the dialects of Englisc spoken by them will develop into what we now refer as Old English. Nonetheless, England was not a silent country before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. Since the middle of the first millennium B.C. the British Isles had belonged to the Celts and the many branches of Celtic language were heard all along the land. One other language was to enter the country before the Anglo-Saxons invasion. After many incursions, the Romans eventually overpowered the island by the 43 A.D., and with their influx came Latin. The reign of Latin speakers lasted for approximately 500 years. The two of these languages, Celtic and Latin, influenced each other and later on had an effect on the language spoken by the arriving Anglo-Saxons.
Even though the Britons were under the Roman rule for almost half a millennium, the use of Latin during this time was not sufficiently widespread to cause the Roman tongue to replace the Celtic language, nor to survive the Germanic invasion. Yet, Latin did influence the language spoken in the Isles as the Romans gave new names to local objects and experiences introducing many other concepts too. These new words were to do with the most varied topics such as plants, animals, food, clothing, buildings and settlements, military and legal institutions, commerce and religion. Examples are: plante “plant”, cyse “cheese”, catte “cat”, cemes “shirt”, weall “wall”, stræt “road”, scrifan “decree”, pund “pound”, munuc “monk”. But Latin was to re-enter the islands during the Anglo-Saxon period with the Christian missionaries from Ireland and Rome, and this second time the influence on Old English would be much more noticeable.
The Celtic language of Roman Britain influenced Old English hardly at all....