Gegaderung > Anglo-Saxon Discussion

Anglo-Saxon as a term

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I know this is contentious so please feel free to ignore, delete or whatever. However I was interested in a recent discussion about the name for the "International Society for Anglo Saxonists". I know I often find it hard to appreciate how the term Anglo-Saxon is understood, and am aware that some of us personally have come a cropper when it has been interpreted differently from our intention, myself included. I therefore found it very helpful (and salutary) to read the following article which puts the usage of the term in perspective and reminded me that just because we understand it one way in this country (and even then, not universally), we cannot assume the same elsewhere in the world.

There is more information here:

The answer is to ignore all PC requests to demonise the term "Anglo-Saxon" and continue to use it - constantly.

I agree with Locian - I think we should not stop using the term “Anglo-Saxon” because to lose it would be another nail in the coffin of our pre-Conquest history, there are several academics trying to deny the existence of the Anglo-Saxons as it is. The fact that most British people understand the term in its proper historical sense is brilliant and very comforting. What the rest of the World interpret it as is really their problem. If we try to stop using “Anglo-Saxon” it would, in a way I think, be a denial of our national history. And a reinforcement of the Americans’ white supremist interpretation. There are many words that mean different things in different countries - try asking an American for a rubber if you want to correct something you’ve written!! It’s our history and if different people want to know about it they will have to adhere to our terminology. I admit I hold my breath sometimes when I tell people I am a member of an Anglo-Saxon history society (which annoys and saddens me) but I think the English Companions as a society is a brilliant ambassador for our period and is contributing to the acceptance of the term Anglo-Saxon in a proper, serious historical sense.

   I once had a 'disagreement' on an archaeology web site about using the generic term 'Celtic' to describe the many tribes of that particular era, I had many abusive comments until I took the time to research and list as many of the European Celtic tribes as I could find, then went on to list them on the site (they ran into the hundreds), and I politely suggested that this was the reason for using this generic term, I didn't hear anything after that! Being as I am from Irish stock, I am not in the least offended by the term 'Celtic' to describe my ancestors, even though there were many tribes of Irish peoples. The same goes for the 'ing' group or tribe endings in AS towns and villages, do these pedantic people want us to name them all (it would make for rather large tomes)? How far do we go (?) Frisian, Angle, Saxon they were all probably made up of many different tribes and groups. Being 'PC' is becoming a nuisance!

In this December's BBC History magazine Michael Wood warned of the dangers of speaking of "Anglo-Saxons". Our American cousins do not understand this as an historical term but instead as a white supremacist slogan "white, Anglo-Saxon and protestant". I think he intends it simply as a caveat. Personally, being particularly interested in the 10th and 11th centuries I have always stuck to "English" but it does then become difficult when one goes back further than England and the Danelaw.

"Is it time to retire the term Anglo-Saxon" he asks but then seems to leave it to us whether we conform to political correctness. He adds "change should not be feared". Neither, I think, should the proper use of the English language.


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