Welcome to the discussion forum of Ða Engliscan Gesiðas for all matters relating to the history, language and culture of Anglo-Saxon England. I hope it will provide a useful source of information, stimulate research, and be of real help. Ða Engliscan Gesiðas (The English Companions) maintains a strictly neutral line on all modern and current political and religious matters and it does not follow any particular interpretation of history. Transgression of this Rule will not be tolerated. Any posts which are perceived as breaking this Rule will be deleted with immediate effect without explanation.

Author Topic: Did the Romans speak English??  (Read 8502 times)


  • Hlaford
  • ****
  • Posts: 310
  • Knowledge is of no use unless it is passed on...
Did the Romans speak English??
« on: January 08, 2015, 01:22:49 AM »
This is not political but I did see it in the Daily Telegraph today and thought the Gesithas might find it funny:
 Sponsored Sketch: Boris versus the RomansAsked whether he agrees with Ukip’s Nigel Farage that all NHS staff should   speak fluent English, Boris Johnson makes a startling revelation about the   Romans   
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, co-hosts his monthly phone-in on LBC radio.                       By                                  Michael Deacon, Parliamentary Sketchwriter12:45PM GMT 06 Jan 2015 Comments5 Comments Boris   Johnson is a man of the broadest erudition. He is a Balliol-educated   classical scholar. He has presented documentaries for the BBC. He has   written books as varied as a   life of Churchill, a history of London, a guide to motoring and a   satirical novel about Islamic terrorism. Beneath the affable clownishness of   his public persona lurks a brain crammed with serious learning. As a result, the monthly phone-in the Mayor of London hosts on LBC radio is   not only entertaining but deeply informative. Take today’s   programme, during which a man rang in to ask him whether he agreed   with Nigel   Farage that all NHS staff should speak fluent English. The Mayor left no room for doubt. “If you come here,” he declared firmly, “you   do as the Romans do – and speak English!”Some listeners might have been taken aback by this remark, having been under   the impression that, throughout their three-and-a-half-century occupation of   Britain, the Romans spoke a different language altogether, namely Latin. But   Mr Johnson – author of The Dream of Rome, an acclaimed study of their mighty   empire – knows his classical history, and in this case, as in all others, he   was absolutely correct. The Romans did indeed speak immaculate English. Unfortunately, however, it didn’t always make their lives easier. In Roman   Britain, scenes like the following were all too commonplace.  “You! The aged Celt with the beard and the herbs! I’ve sprained an ankle   falling off my chariot while slaughtering your fellow tribesmen. Could you   take a look?”
“Cynhgael nhui y hlsedd.”
“Oh, for pity’s sake. Not another doctor who doesn’t speak English. How   ridiculous. This is no way to run a health service.”
“Excuse me, Centurion, I’m a translator. Can I be of assistance?”
“Yes. Ask this doctor why he doesn’t speak English.”
“He says he can’t help it, Centurion.”
“Can’t help it? Why not, by Jupiter?”
“He says the English language hasn’t been invented yet, Centurion. Indeed, the   English people haven’t been invented yet. The Angles – an invading Germanic   tribe from whose name the word ‘English’ will derive – won’t reach these   shores until the fifth century AD, after the Romans have left. Quite funny,   in a way, isn’t it? English: a language invented by immigrants, and imposed   by force upon Britain’s indigenous peoples! This will make 21st-century   political debate seem richly ironic.”
“Typical. We Romans have done all we can to integrate seamlessly into Ancient   Britons’ culture, and it turns out the stupid plebs can’t even speak their   own language yet. Hang on a minute, though.”
“Yes, Centurion?”
“If English doesn’t exist, what language are you and I speaking right now?”
“Excellent question, Centurion. Answering it, I fear, will require a greater   mind than mine. Tell you what – Boris Johnson’s radio show is on in about   2,000 years. I’ll ring him up and ask.”
Wessex Woman


  • thegn
  • ***
  • Posts: 220
Re: Did the Romans speak English??
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2015, 08:33:04 AM »
That brightened up my morning! I think dear Boris was combining .When in Rome' inappropriately there.  ::)


  • Guest
Re: Did the Romans speak English??
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2015, 03:23:08 PM »
Thanks Jayson, I enjoyed that too.


  • Guest
Re: Did the Romans speak English??
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2015, 11:25:25 AM »
As far as I understand, lots of people spoke Greek in Rome.