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Another fascinating contribution and insight. I will write more in an answer. I read yours after an answer suggesting 9th century origins. Your comment, if I interpret rightly, points to much earlier beginnings, prior to the 5th century.
It depends on whether you accept the tribal languages as early forms of or the roots of English. I think of them as early forms and French, Latin, Greek etc. as having an influence.
Very good comment. I learned a good deal here. Thanks for the book idea.
I am surprised by how drawn I am to know more about the history of English, inspired by reading these answers. My interest is not scholarly but more than curiosity, as I will write in an Answer. Thank you for the articulated insights.
Well, cans of worms are squiggly fun. I will tell a little about why I asked, in an Answer.
Good point in paragraph one. The formation of the languages of the Germanic tribes is also part of the formation of English.
This answers a part of my question that was most pressing, the timeframe when English began to form. A fascinating look, and thank you. So it could be said that the earliest form of English started to be spoken sometime in the 9th century?