Who am I?

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britishmugMy mother was born in Wales. My father was born in England. My elder brother was born in Wales. I was born in England. How do I class myself? I am English and I am British.

England does not include Wales and Scotland. Britain (GB) includes all three countries. If we want to include Northern Ireland, then it becomes ‘The United Kingdom ‘(UK). The ‘Great’ in ‘Great Britain’, is there, to prevent confusion with Brittany in the north of France. OK, so far?

So what is the difference between English and British. As far as history can tell us, the original people in England were Britons of Celtic origin. They lived in separate tribes, which helped the Romans when they came to conquer them. After the Romans had left, three main Germanic nations came. The Celtic language was gradually replaced by a form of German. The two German States mostly mentioned were the Angles and the Saxo As society developed, it became necessary to differentiate between the Old Saxons and the Saxons in England. Thus the name Anglo-Saxon came to be the name of those in England. The Anglo-Saxon language, replaced the Celtic language. Today, we only have a very small number of Celtic words – mostly the names of rivers, or towns, where the name begins with ‘Pen—‘. The 8th-century Latin writers used the name Anglo Saxons.

This is probably the beginning of the new name. Anglo, no doubt, came from the name of the Anglo nation. In the year 880 AD, the Treaty of Wedmore was made between the Saxon King Alfred and the Danish leader Guthrum. Here, we see all the non-Danish population in the country, named English. The others were named Danish. The name for the country had variations of ‘Engla laude’ e.g. Engle land; Englene londe; Engelond and Ingland; with England, finally in the 14th century. As I mentioned earlier, England does not include Wales, Scotland or Ireland. The Celtic language (in 2 main forms) is still alive in the non-England countries, which allows them to be British, but not English. The Irish do not normally include themselves in British, despite their everyday use of a Celtic language – (politics!) The Welsh form of Celtic is widely spoken in Wales as a second language. It was also spoken in Cornwall, where it has since died out.

The last fluent speaker there was an old lady, who died in the late 1700s. A form of the same language is also spoken in Brittany in France. Scotland and Ireland have a different form of Celtic, where it is also a second language. So, now you know, why I am both English and British. Or do you? It’s all a bit complicated.


prevent – to stop something

gradually – slowly