Thesis Theater: Shawn Gaffney, “Hidden Contact: The Unremarkable Evidence of Brittonic and Latin Effects on English”

Signum University Thesis Theater
Join us on Tuesday, September 28, at 10am ET for a Thesis Theater on Brittonic and Latin Effects on English


Nelson Goering
Nelson Goering
Lecturer; Preceptor


September 28, 2021 - 10:00 am EDT


September 28, 2021 - 11:00 am EDT

Signum master’s student Shawn Gaffney will present his thesis “Hidden Contact: The Unremarkable Evidence of Brittonic and Latin Effects on English” and respond to questions from the audience in an interactive Thesis Theater. The discussion will be facilitated by Shawn’s thesis supervisor, Nelson Goering.


Thesis Abstract

At the beginning of the fifth century, the Anglo-Saxons arrived in Britain and within two centuries they had become a dominant presence throughout much of the island. They encountered the Romano-British and Romans, speaking Brittonic and Latin, but the presence of these two groups, their effects on culture and language, as well as their survival into later centuries are sometimes neglected in modern scholarship. Both peoples did not just disappear at the arrival of the invaders but instead interacted in ways that are still visible today, especially with respect to lexical items and place-names. Language contact theories suggest that instead of a lack of contact, these limitations of data demonstrate the specific effects of certain types of contact. Substrate languages can affect the dominant language through phonology and syntax while leaving the lexicon relatively unchanged. An understanding of how contact and substrate effects is crucial for understanding potential models of cultural contact between the disparate groups. These models demonstrate how the different groups could interact over the centuries and still present modern scholars with the perceived limitations of evidence.


About the Presenter

Shawn is interested in approaching the ancient world through a variety of different lenses. He is especially interested in the outcome of contact between different groups. While his background is primarily linguistics, he is trying to expand his toolset to include new and varied approaches to understanding the ancient world. However, he spends the bulk of his time enjoying the presence of a two-year-old playing with trucks.


About Signum Thesis Theaters

Each of our master’s students writes a thesis at the end of their degree program, exploring a topic of their choice. The Thesis Theater is their opportunity to present their research to a general audience, and answer questions. All are welcome to attend!