Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Where do all our words come from?

Every now and again the lovely Guardian Review on a Saturday has a gem of an article. Last weekend James Meek had this superb little reminder. Click on the link for his article or read on for my summary first/instead.

The three languages of medieval Britain were French, Latin and English (but not as we know it). The Black Death forced the decreased population to accommodate each other and one language began to emerge.

Previously we had had:

  • Francophone aristos
  • Latinist clerics
  • Anglophone peasantry

Meek's point is that it is interesting how we still in fact use:

  • Latin or Latin-derivations for intellectual analysis
  • French for power, military and finance
  • Anglo-Saxon (plus Norse) for everyday
He added that the 'new clerics' include, lawyers, writers, some artists, scientists, journalists, some comedians, politicians, some entrepreneurs and actual clerics.

To use a word from each set he concluded:

Rise up, rebel, revolt

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