In brief: the proposition is that Old English died out in the wake of the Danish invasions of the ninth century, and was replaced by a dialect of Old Norse that borrowed heavily from the language it supplanted: that dialect evolved into Middle English, which in turn became modern English. The authors cite in evidence ways in which English is grammatically more similar to Norwegian than it is to its supposed West Germanic cousins.
Regardless of the truth or otherwise of this assertion, note that the fourth word of the quote from Uncleftish Beholding is unquestionably Norse in origin: if you want to speak English entirely without non-Anglo-Saxon borrowings, you’re going to have to find a new (or old) third-person-plural pronoun.
In British English, or at least my variety of it, “cough” is pronounced “coff”. That’s the problem with phonetic spellings: you need to decide whose pronunciation you’re going to represent.
That goes to prove that this kind of exercise, though amusing - I mean, it is originally from Punch, not from the Journal of Very Serious Academical Studies on Compared Linguistics - are quite pointless.
A bit like wondering how humans would look like if they evolved from octopuses instead of apes.
I wonder if any languages bite that bullet and just standardize phonetic rules but not word spellings? Kinda like how German allows compounds that are written as one word but not in dictionaries? It would make sense and indicate speaker accent and dialect when read aloud but would screw over anyobe needing to learn vocabulary.
At college, my games group used to play a Scrabble variant in which we weren’t allowed to use any word that was in the dictionary but it still had to be pronounceable and sound plausible in a sentence (I suspect it was prompted by that glorious episode of BlackAdder with Samuel Johnson’s dictionary.)
Well, Old English was basically using the Latin alphabet (unless we want to go back to futhorc, but that’s… problematic). We still have the thorn, eth, and wynn, though they don’t get a lot of usage in English outside pronunciation guides… Some of the Middle English characters like yogh are more useful than Modern English spellings at consistent spelling rules (and conveying older pronunciations).
I personally find it difficult to distinguish the pronuciation of the eth and thorn… ironically I do use ash regularly.
English as it became known is as a result of the invasion by Anglo-Saxons, which was followed by Normans, who were actually Scandinavian settlers, (Norman/Norsemen), but in between there was a chunk of what became England that had been settled by previous Viking invaders, who were initially settled in what was called Mercia, but tried to conquer the rest of the south, fighting against King Alfred, beating him and driving him into the Somerset Levels around Glastonbury. He regrouped, raised a new army, and beat the Vikings at a decisive battle at Eddington, in Wiltshire, about ten miles from where I live, in Chippenham. King Alfred had extensive forests all around here, and had a hunting lodge at the top of town.
Previous to all of these invasions, the indigenous languages were Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Pictish, Manx, Cornish and Irish Gaelic, not all of which shared common roots - Cornish and Breton are related, but there’s not much shared between Welsh and Gaelic, and even Welsh differs between the North and South. Manx, IIRC, is different again.
And over the last half-millennium, there have been large influxes of immigrants from all over Europe, and even West Asia and Africa; there were Black immigrants working in Elizabethan London.
Sure, as a result of colonialism English has adopted many loan words, but it has adopted words from cultures with which it had no historical connection, kayak being one from Inuit.
The Japanese have entirely adopted the English alphabet, and plenty of loan words, it’s called Romanji using Roman letters, because when printed it looks more even to the eye. But there again, Japan’s written language was taken from Chinese and simplified, becoming, IIRC, Katakana, then simplified even further to Kanji.
Many cultures adopt and steal ideas from others, Greeks and Romans did it all the time.
Other way round: kanji are the logographic Chinese characters; katakana and hiragana are the phonetic scripts derived from them.
That, and the importance of male grooming.
[The Danes] caused much trouble to the natives of the land; for they were wont, after the fashion of their country, to comb their hair every day, to bathe every Saturday, to change their garments often, and set off their persons by many frivolous devices. In this matter they laid siege to the virtue of the married woman, and persuaded the daughters even of the noble to be their concubines.
— John of Wallingford (attrib.), Chronica Joannis Wallingford, c.1200-1250
Surely English is in fact a comparatively late arrival to Britain? There were languages spoken there before Old English. Lots of them as far as I know. That’s another problem with these things: choosing which arbitrary point in prehistory represents some imagined purity. Which is obviously distasteful.