The Norman Conquest – The History of English (2/10)
October 19, 2019
The History of English in ten minutes.
Chapter 2: the Norman Conquest or excuse my English. 1066, true to his name William
the Conqueror invades England bringing new concepts from across the channel
like the French language, the Domesday book and the duty-free Galois multipack.
French was ‘de rigueur’ for all official business with words like judge jury
evidence and justice coming in and giving John Grisham’s career a kickstart.
Latin was still used ad nauseam in church, but the common man spoke English,
able to communicate only by speaking more slowly and loudly until the others
understood him. Words like cow, sheep and swine come from the english-speaking
farmers while the a-la-carte versions, beef mutton and pork come from the
french-speaking toffs, beginning a long-running trend for restaurants
having completely indecipherable menus. All in all, the English absorbed about
10,000 new words from the Normans, though they still couldn’t grasp the rules of
cheek kissing. The bonne amie all ended when the English nation took their new
warlike lingo of armies, navies and soldiers and began the Hundred Years War
against France. It actually lasted 116 years but by that
point no one could count any higher in French and English took over as the
language of power.