A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Peter Fogg
Date: 2009 Nov 5, 00:03 +1100
And as such [“self-appointed pedants extraordinaires”] let me point out that Peter’s “learned” statements about languages are nonsense, which could be explained by the fact that he looks at Europe upside down.
The “lingua franca” was by no means the common language of the “Franks” but a sort of pidgin language which evolved in the Middle ages around the Mediterranean through the contact of people speaking romanic languages with Arabs. And being based on romanic languages it has nothing to do with Low German.
Ah Wolfgang. Firstly; lingua franca, as I stated, literally means 'language of the Franks'. It has a modern common meaning in English, and perhaps also in other tongues, as the language commonly understood or spoken in some place. You appear to be confusing this expression (in Latin?) for the common Frankish language, ie; the one most commonly understood by that disparate mob. There may well have been a lingua franca of the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages, just as there is a lingua franca of this NavList, which is English.
What was that Frankish language? It was based on the Rhinish tongue, that I have been given to understand was a Germanic dialect common to the length of the Rhine River, long long ago. It has been described as Low German. Over time it seems to have been displaced along most of the Rhine by what evolved as modern German, with its only descendants (that I am aware of) being the modern closely-related Flemish and Dutch languages, that of course are spoken in areas around the mouth of the Rhine.
Having (re)said all that, I have no doubt that as the commonly understood language or lingua franca of an extensive empire this Frankish-speak would have had all sorts of words and expressions from other places mixed-in, and was quite likely a linguistic soup of some variety.
Charlemagne's native language is a matter of controversy. It was probably a Germanic dialect of the Ripuarian Franks, but linguists differ on its identity and chronology. Some linguists go so far as to say that he did not speak Old Frankish as he was born in 742 or 747, by which time Old Frankish had become extinct. Old Frankish is reconstructed from its descendant, Old Low Franconian, which would give rise to the Dutch language and to the modern dialects in the German North Rhineland, which were dubbed Ripuarian in modern times. Another important source are loanwords in Old French. Linguists know very little about Old Frankish, as it is attested mainly as phrases and words in the law codes of the main Frankish tribes (especially those of the Salian and Ripuarian Franks), which are written in Latin interspersed with Germanic elements. The Franconian language, which was a form of Lower German, had been replaced with an Old High German form in the area comprising the contemporary Southern Rhineland, The Palatinate South Hessen and Northern parts of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. The present Dutch language area along with the modern Ripuarian areas in the North Rhine region preserved a Lower German form of Franconian dubbed Old Low Franconian or Old Dutch.
I'd like to think that my version is simpler, and thus suitable for simple souls like you and me, although I recognise that linguistics is a complex subject.
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