<i>A gente Anglorum appellatur</i>
Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica contains unnoticed evidence for the processes of transition from Roman to Anglo-Saxon toponymy in early Anglo-Saxon England. Bede uses two different formulas to specify that place-names are English: a gente Anglorum appellatur (‘called by the people of the English’) and lingua Anglorum (‘in the language of the English’). The first phrase is used exclusively of places whose English names show phonetic continuity with Roman ones; the second with a more heterogeneous group which mostly does not show phonetic continuity. This demands explanation. The explanation suggested here is that major places (likely to be spoken of throughout a whole gens) enjoyed greater stability of nomenclature than minor ones.