Dear Les / whoever else is interested
More from that programme about the English language - fascinating stuff. Part 2 : Old English was now a mixture of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon when the Normans invaded (now you know why the English don't like the French, we have long memories!) and took over. French became the language used by all the influential/educated people, the church leaders etc (plus Latin of course) and it is likely that eventually we would have ended up as a French speaking nation if it weren't for the Black Death in the 12th century. This wiped out about a third of the population, hitting people that lived together in communities and close proximity the worst, thereby wiping out a lot of the upper echelons of society, leaving the "dregs" who all spoke Old English to rise up and gain more influential positions. So English gained ascendancy again but assimilated French in the form of lots of additional vocabulary which is why we have more strange anomalies like pig/pork, sheep/mutton, ox or cow/beef (all the food words are French of course). Old English "apple" meant any kind of fruit, but was replaced by the French word "fruit", so "apple" just became more specific. All this additional vocabulary which has been incorporated from all our various invaders is what makes English so interesting and so precise - you can always find a word to convey exactly what you mean as there are usually at least three different words available meaning almost exactly the same thing but with subtle shades of difference.
I'm so glad I tuned into this programme - can't wait for the next episode. I wish history lessons hadn't been so boring when I was a child and I'd paid more attention.
Post a Followup