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Mar 23, 2008



Curiously, the little Latin that is in English comes through Norman, even though England was occupied by the Roman army.

Yes, but "England" didn't exist until after the Romans left (there were only p-Celts in "Britain"!).

French could have become the universal working language of this world, instead of English.

French was the working language of the world, at least until the early twentieth century. I suspect \Mandarin Chinese will soon enough replace English in its turn.

Steve Johnson

EWI beat me to it. Romans ruling England? What a howler! Does David Crystal's book do a bad job of explaining the history behind English or did you just do a bad job of reading it?

I would add that the French did not rule England following the Norman invasion, the Normans did. The word "Norman" is derived from "Northman" or "Norseman", the Viking invaders and rulers of what is now northern France. The Norman French language used by the ruling classes in England after 1066 was primarily, but not entirely, Old French.

Normandy was ruled independently. Although the Duke of Normandy was the theoretical vassal of the King of France, the rulers of Normandy and France would alternate between being allies and enemies, depending on the political circumstances at the time. France and Normandy invaded each other several times.

May I suggest that your next read is a real history book about Britain? Better still, make that several books. It's a fascinating subject. However, I find a strictly British history gets a little dull from about the early 1700s, after which all the interesting stuff starts happening abroad.


Interesting...I will pick it up. I read these:

Bill Bryson "Mother Tongue" - A fun look at the history of English and explains how many Norman words still exist in English

Simon Winchester "The Professor & the Madman" - Dryer...possibly like "The Stories of English" but fascinating.

Al Dean

That's why we call it Beef, not Cow, Pork, not Pig.. From the French (Beef/Boeuf).. i.e; the Norman's got to eat it, while we serfs had to farm it and had a different word for it.. and its why we use the "two fingered" salute - there's a history.

As for slang as an essential part of English - absolutely Ralph.. only a berk would think otherwise ;)

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