28 September 2015

Norman Conquest and English


It was on this day, September 28, 1066 that William the Conqueror of Normandy arrived on British soil. He defeated the British in the Battle of Hastings, and on Christmas Day, he was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.

The reason I post it here is that it turned out to have a tremendous effect on the English language.

The British back then were speaking a combination of Saxon and Old Norse. The Normans spoke French. Over time, the languages blended, and as a result English became a language incredibly rich in synonyms.

Because the French speakers were aristocrats, the French words often became the fancy words for things. The Normans gave us “mansion”; the Saxons gave us “house.” The Normans gave us “beef”; the Saxons gave us, “cow.”

The English language has gone on accepting additions to its vocabulary ever since, and it now contains more than a million words, making it one of the most diverse languages on Earth.

Source: WritersAlmanac.org

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