French Borrowings

Topics: English language, French language, German language Pages: 2 (661 words) Published: November 20, 2014
Borrowings from French language
The English language has been shaped by a number of other languages over the centuries, and many English speakers know that Latin and German were two of the most important. What many people don’t realize is how much the French language has influenced English. Without going into too much detail, I want to give a little bit of background about the other languages which shaped English. It was born out of the dialects of three German tribes (Angles, Jutes and Saxons) who settled in Britain in about 450 A.D. This group of dialects forms what we know as Old English. This Germanic base was influenced in varying degrees by Celtic, Latin and Scandinavian (Old Norse)-the languages spoken by invading armies. The Norman conquest of 1066 is called the ‘final cataclysm which awaited the English language. ‘When William the Conqueror became king of England, French took over as the language of court, administration, and culture and stayed there for 300 years. Meanwhile, English was ‘demoted’ to everyday, unprestigious uses. These two language existed side by side in England with no noticeable difficulties. In fact, since English was essentially ignored by grammarians during this time, it took advantage of its lowly status to became a grammatically simpler language and, after only 70 or 80 years existing side-by-side with French, Old English segued into Middle English. During the Norman occupation, about 10,000 French words was adopted into English, some three-fourths of which are still in use today. This French vocabulary is found in every domain, from government and law to art and literature- learn some. More than a third of all English words are derived directly or indirectly from French, and it’s estimated that English speakers who have never studied French already know 15,000 French words. English pronunciation owes a lot to French as well. Whereas Old English had the unvoiced fricative sounds [f], [s], [θ], [∫](shin), French influence helped...
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