Over the centuries, the English language has been shaped by a number of other languages. Many English speakers know that Latin and German were two of the most important. However, what many people do not realize is just how much the French language has influenced English.
Though English was originally born out of the dialects of three Germanic tribes: Angles, Jutes and Saxons, who settled in Britain about 450 A.D, and then was influenced to varying degrees by Celtic, Latin, and Old Norse, languages brough to Britain by invasion, it was French which in 1066 brough about the 'final cataclysm'.
When William the Conqueror became king of England following the Battle of Hastings, French replaced English as the language of the court, administration, and culture - and remained so for 300 years. At the same time, English was relegated to everyday, common use. Thereafter, English and French existed side by side in England with no noticeable difficulties; in fact, since grammarians essentially ignored English during this time period, it developed into a grammatically simpler language and, after only 70 or 80 years existing side-by-side with French, Old English evolved into Middle English.
Today, English is a language unto itself and is by definition the most international of all languages. That said, the French influence cannot be denied. During the Norman occupation, about 10,000 French words were adopted into English, some three-fourths of which are still in use today. This French vocabulary may be found in every domain, from government and law to art and literature.
In fact, so many words and expressions, which have been borrowed from French, have been so completely absorbed by English that speakers do not always realize their origins. Au contraire, other words and expressions have retained their "Frenchness" - a certain 'je ne sais quoi' which speakers tend to be much more aware of (although this awareness does not usually extend to actually pronouncing the word in French).
And, though it might appear that English and French have much in common, no self-respecting Englishman or Frenchman would ever go so far as to make such a postulation. French is a language that, like the culture, has been imbued with a certain 'je ne sais quoi', and only by taking the time to learn this language, or as the French call it, 'la langue de Moliere', can you really appreciate its singular beauty and refinement.
For more information concerning French language courses at Language Link, please visit our sister site www.french.language.ru or contact us.
Vive la difference!