Monday, 17 November 2014

siege perilous oder kokosnußritter

Though there is no definite, contemporary written account of the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the island, given how many fled and the apparent lack of the merging of cultures and languages, we can probably safely assume that the event was not a comfortable one for the native populace. Modern-day genetic studies seem to indicate that there was no genocide by the settlers, as older affinities from earlier migrations still remain strong among guest and host, but given the few, latter-day accounts and attested exonyms that the newcomers gave to the natives, the broader term of the Germanic speakers was Walhaz and referred to the aboriginal cultures and Celtic speakers—and is preserved in several toponyms, Wales and Cornwall, locally, and Wallachia and Wallonia on the continent, to name a few, it looks like the native English were mostly relegated to the margins of society. The Germanic English language accommodated few Celtic influences, just a few place-names—although that lack of vocabulary might be spoken for in the unique grammar of English.
Many of the inflections were dropped to help keep communication simple among the co-mingling Germanic tribes, but English does a couple more curious things that it only has in common with the Celtic languages that were subsumed: no other Germanic or Latinate language inserts do into syntax like English does and no other language treats its present-tense as English does. In German (and many other related languages), it suffices to say, “Wir sehen fern,” however in English—unless one was referring to one’s vocation, one would always say, we are watching television. Adding did and do and this long-hand construction for doing something are typical to England alone. Further evidence of strife and unhappy co-existence comes in the form of folklore: the legendary tales of one Arthur Pendragon, fifth century king of the Britons, was able to unite the people against a common-foe and turned back the Anglo-Saxon incursions in series of decisive battles, now lost to the ages. For a span of five centuries, the Britons who remained in the far north, along the coast and those who had retreated to Brittany (Bretagne) kindled the idea that the prodigal leader would one day return to banish these interlopers definitively, the once and future king. The chance for the original displaced inhabitants to reclaim their land came with the Norman Invasion, but the embellished traditions had taken on a life of their own—growing to include a whole host of characters, intrigues, exploits and the eventual transition from fighting Germans to a more spiritual quest in finding the Holy Grail. The Siege Perilous refers to the seat reserved by Merlin at the Round Table—specifically made that way so there was no head of the table and all gather were equally—for the knight who recovered the Grail, and deadly for any other occupant. Founding myths are more than propaganda and patriotism, of course, and it would be a grave disservice to the storytellers the body of literature that has been expounded to supplement the Matter of Britain to treat them as mere jingoism and allegory. The chance for civilisations to express themselves as a nation (from the same root as nativity, birth) and to coalesce socially with heroic role models to aspire to is as important as the collective amnesia of the violence that accompanies the taking or retaking and the clannish pride, local patriotism and heritage, which if fully remembered, would spoil the illusion. Besides, castle and court do more for the imagination than the progressive brutalities of mankind.