Anglian - Anglican

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It is comparatively easy for writer and spellchecker alike to confuse the two words Anglian and Anglican. They have related - but different - meanings.

  • Anglian is an adjective from the name of a Germanic tribe. It is used nowadays in two main ways:
    • The Angles, along with the Saxons, formed the English people by a series of invasions between 400 and 600 CE, leading to the period known as the heptarchy (~ 'seven kingdoms'). During the ninth and tenth centuries, these were gradually amalgamated into the nation of England - to be taken over by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, after the battle of Hastings in 1066. Though these people called themselves Englisc (or English), that word has rather changed its meaning. Modern historians and linguists who want to describe Angles now call them Anglian to make it clear that they mean something different from anything described as 'English', which is current.
    • The Angles left their name to one part of England: East Anglia, which is largely formed by Norfolk and Suffolk. In geographical and other contexts, Anglian is used as a current term to mean 'things to do with East Anglia'. One regiment of the British army is "The Royal Anglian Regiment". Some transport and tourism businesses, etc, use the word to identify themselves as belonging to this region.
  • Anglican is an ecclesiastical term. It refers to the Christian church in England. Since the Reformation of the 16th century, it has meant 'to do with the Church of England' - the reformed body headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury - or one of the bodies in other countries that have sprung from it. These sometimes call themselves Episcopalian churches (the word means 'to do with bishops'), as it marks one of the features of Anglicanism: it is a Protestant church which nevertheless maintains bishops as having authority. (Many Protestant churches do without bishops, and have elected 'elders' or 'presbyters' instead: they are thus called Presbyterian churches.) Episcopalian churches may also not want to advertise their connection with England, as may perhaps be the case with the Episcopalian Church of Scotland.

For some etymological information about Angles, see also Angel - angle