Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
as the basic strain, the English blood comprises Norman French,1 Scandinavian, Celtic,2 and pre-Celtic elements. If by English we mean also Scotch and Irish,3 then the term Celtic is loosely used for at least two quite distinct racial elementsthe short, dark-complexioned type of Wales and the taller, lighter, often ruddy-haired type of the Highlands and parts of Ireland. Even if we confine ourselves to the Saxon element, which, needless to say, nowhere appears pure, we are not at the end of our troubles. We may roughly identify this strain with the racial type now predominant in southern Denmark and adjoining parts of northern Germany. If so, we must content ourselves with the reflection that while the English language is historically most closely affiliated with Frisian, in second degree with the other West Germanic dialects (Low Saxon or Plattdeutsch, Dutch, High German), only in third degree with Scandinavian, the specific Saxon racial type that overran England in the fifth and sixth centuries was largely the same as that now represented by the Danes, who speak a Scandinavian language, while the High German-speaking
Note 1. Itself an amalgam of North French and Scandinavian elements. [back]
Note 2. The Celtic blood of what is now England and Wales is by no means confined to the Celtic-speaking regionsWales and, until recently, Cornwall. There is every reason to believe that the invading Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes) did not exterminate the Brythonic Celts of England nor yet drive them altogether into Wales and Cornwall (there has been far too much driving of conquered peoples into mountain fastnesses and lands ends in our histories), but simply intermingled with them and imposed their rule and language upon them. [back]
Note 3. In practice these three peoples can hardly be kept altogether distinct. The terms have rather a local-sentimental than a clearly racial value. Intermarriage has gone on steadily for centuries and it is only in certain outlying regions that we get relatively pure types, e.g., the Highland Scotch of the Hebrides. In America, English, Scotch, and Irish strands have become inextricably interwoven. [back]