Directions: Read the following essay and answer the comprehension questions



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Directions: Read the following essay and answer the comprehension questions.

Historical and Cultural Development of the English Language:

Some of the various Influences that French-a Romance language has on English- a Germanic language.

By Phillip J.J. Scheir


People who have been raised all of their lives speaking English and who have never studied a language other than English may not realize it, but they also speak a lot of French. Although English is derived from German, many of the words used in English are actually French. Also the way many English words are pronounced is due to the influence of French on English.1 Almost 7,000 English words used today are French in origin and about a third of all Modern English words used today are derived directly or indirectly from French.2 The influence of the French language on English is due primary to the Norman Conquest and can be seen through the use of many French words in English as well as the influences of French grammar used in English. 3

"The English language that is spoken today is the direct result of 1066 and the Norman Conquest. Modern English is vastly different from that spoken by the English prior to the Conquest, both in its [lexicon] and its grammar."4 Old English was a nonstandard language which was used in England before the Norman Conquest. It was rapidly replaced with Middle English, a combination of English with French influences. The infusion of French into the formation of the newly formed Middle English was in large part due to the introduction of the printing press.5 Even before the Norman invasion people in England were slowly introducing French words into their vocabulary. The royal courts after the Norman Conquest were ruled by the new French speaking aristocracy. French was the language of the royal court, the legal system and the church. The French would control England and with their control continue to use French as the ruling language for the next three hundred years until the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453.6 French was popularly used by the English because people in England thought that using French words was fashionable.7 Using "loanwords", or words used from another language, was popular in English because it made common people feel a connection to the aristocracy. Using loanwords was thought to convey a feeling of refinement. Old English without the infusion of French was thought by the general public to be a "base language." Authors would often apologize for writing in English, which they considered "rude" and barbaric" (358).8 The French verb to "demand" was viewed as insisting and persuasive being more polite and genteel than the German based verb to "ask" which was thought of as begging. The French verb "labor" was viewed as a less strenuous task than the German word "work."9 Writers and the general public would purposefully pepper their communication with French words. This communication was so infused with French that it was described by a few critics as "English á la Mode de Paris."10

As many as 10,000 French words were introduced into the English language after the Norman Conquest and most of these French words are used in English today.11 Some words are easily recognizable as having a French origin. If a person says "I made a dinner reservation for me and my fiancée at the restaurant that has the nice hors d'œuvres," the speaker probably could easily distinguish the words "fiancée" and "hors d'œuvres" as being French in origin. There are several words in that phrase that have French origins.12 The speaker may not as easily realize that the words "dinner" is a French word in origin and "reservation" and "nice" have French influences as well. "Dinner," just like the word "supper," is a French word that was introduced into Middle English. The suffix "-tion" in the word "reservation" comes from French. The soft pronunciation of the letter "c" in the word "nice" comes from French, as does placing the "e" at the end of the word. The grammar rule of placing an "e" at the end of a word to signify a long vowel sound being produced comes from French grammar. Words that originate from French can also be seen from the way they are spelled. Words that use a diphthong /oi/ such as in "joy", "boy", "Roy", "coy", "toy" and "employ" are all Central French in origin. Central French is Modern day French's approximation of Middle English. Some of the spelling and pronunciation rules in Central French have been lost in Modern day French, but continue to be used in Modern day English. Many words in English that have an "s" before a "t" originate from Central French spelling.13 English uses the word "hostel," but Modern French used today only uses the later spelling it adopted, "hotel." Likewise, borrowed words from Central French such as "forest" and "estate" still used in Modern English have been dropped in Modern French for "forêt" and "état." New words from French were also introduced into English through a process called "hybridization" where part of a word in English was attached to part of a word in French. New English words were formed through hybridization when an English prefix would be used with a French word (endear-ment, un-able, un-dress) or a French word would be used with an English suffix (prowl-ing, wine-ry, leak-ing) or a French prefix would be used with an English word (em-bark, pre-answered, em-bitter).14

The influence French has upon English is also apparent in the use of Central French idioms and grammar adopted into Middle English still used in Modern English today. Some idioms borrowed from French are "at your service", "do me the favor", "to engage somebody in a quarrel", "to make (later: pay) a visit", "by occasion", "in detail", "in favor of", "in the last resort", "in particular" and "to the contrary" (Nevalainen, 370).15 In Old English the rule for attributing a quality to a noun using an adjective is that the adjective precedes the noun such as in "big + boy" or "pretty + girl." But in French the noun precedes the adjective. This grammar rule was adopted in English and is still used in compound words when an object is being described16; for example a "attorney general" is describing a type of attorney, a "judge advocate" is describing a type of judge and a "surgeon general" is describing a type of surgeon/ doctor. Old English had very complex grammar that was seldom examined by linguists of the era because it was seen as a vulgar language lacking order. Old English grammar was daunting due to having over "30 inflectional forms for every adjective or pronoun. Its syntax was only partially dependent on word order and had a simple two-tense, three-mood, four-person (three singular, one plural) verb system."17 However, within 70 or 80 years after the Norman Conquest brought an infusion of French language into English, the transformation of Old English into Middle English simplified the language.18 The use of French grammar in Middle English was partly an attempt to simplify English which can be seen in the decline in the use of inflections. Also, the influence of French grammar used to simplify Old English grammar in Middle English is seen in the use of the preposition "of" as a marker of genitive and the use of the adverbs "more" and "most." 19

With the Norman Conquest English was greatly influenced by French. Old English got an infusion of French vocabulary and grammar and thereby transformed into Middle English. The Norman Conquest brought an alien culture and language into England which changed the course of English language dramatically.20 English was a difficult language to use internationally before the emergence of French into the English language.21 It was avoided by many intellectuals because it had a very complex grammar structure which was not always agreed upon among trained linguists, or among common people. 22 Presently there are many examples in English of French influence ranging from vocabulary and idioms to pronunciation, grammar and semantics.23 Today English is an international language with close to two billion people speaking English daily around the world. Today there are an estimated total of 1.8 billion English speakers (about 400 million of them being native speakers) in the world.24 One fifth of all people in the world can speak English at some level of competence.25 They probably do not know that French has greatly influenced English and that they are speaking a lot of French, but, as is a common phrase used by people who speak English, "C'est la vie," or “that is life.”26


Answer the questions with the information provided in the reading.
1. About how many English words today are French in origin?

2. What is the main reason why English has a high amount of French influence?

3. How did people in England feel about using French words?

4. Why did many English speaking people prefer to use the word “labor” as opposed to “work”?

5. In English what vowel is placed at the end of a word, but not pronounced?

6. What is "hybridization" in language?

7. Give one example of a French idiom spoken in English today.

8. How is the grammar of Old English described as being?


9. What does the word “dramatically” mean in, “French changed the English language dramatically”?
10. Why did many people internationally avoid using English before French was added to it?
11. Approximately how many English speakers are there in the world today?
Application and critical thinking.
12. What do you think is the meaning of the phrase, “That is life”?

13. Are there any languages hat you think make people sound smart when they are spoken? Why?

14. Do you think you would speak a language only because it was fashionable? Why or why not?

15. Do you know any words in your own native language that are borrowed from another language?




1 Lawless, Laura K. (retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "How French Has Influenced English, Les influences de la langue française dans la langue anglaise. About.com. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/frenchinenglish.htm


2Lawless, Laura K. (retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "How French Has Influenced English, Les influences de la langue française dans la langue anglaise. About.com. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/frenchinenglish.htm


3 Boxell, Geoff. (retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "Effect of the Norman Conquest on the English Language," http://geoffboxell.tripod.com/words.htm


4 Boxell, Geoff. (retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "Effect of the Norman Conquest on the English Language," http://geoffboxell.tripod.com/words.htm


5 Wikipedia, (retrieved online on April 30, 2010) "Middle English," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_English

6  Boxell, Geoff. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "Effect of the Norman Conquest on the English Language," http://geoffboxell.tripod.com/words.htm

7 Hickey, Raymond. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "History of English- Studying the History of English" Contact with French: The two periods, http://www.uni-due.de/SHE/HE_Vocabulary_French.htm

8 Barber, Charles. (1976). "Early Modern English" Andre Deutsch Ltd., London

9 Hickey, Raymond. (retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "History of English- Studying the History of English; Contact with French: The two periods," http://www.uni-due.de/SHE/HE_Vocabulary_French.htm

10 Jurice, Dane. (Published online in 2003, Retrieved on April 30, 2010). "Dissertation: The Influence of French on English in the Early Modern Period." University of Toronto Press, Canada http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/6362Jurcic1.htm


11 Boxell, Geoff. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "Effect of the Norman Conquest on the English Language," http://geoffboxell.tripod.com/words.htm

12


 Lawless, Laura K. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "How French Has Influenced English, Les influences de la langue française dans la langue anglaise" About.com. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/frenchinenglish.htm

13 Hickey, Raymond. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "History of English- Studying the History of English" Contact with French: The two periods, http://www.uni-due.de/SHE/HE_Vocabulary_French.htm

14 Mukherjee, Tarun Tapas. (Published online on November 8, 2007. Retrieved on April 30, 2010 ) "TTM's Guidance for Studying English Literature" French Influence on the English Language, http://freehelpstoenglishliterature.blogspot.com/2007/11/frech-influence-on-english-language.html

15 Nevalainen, Terttu. "Early Modern English Lexix and Semantics." The Cambridge History of the English Language Vol. III. Ed. Lass, Roger. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 322-458


16 Dalton-Puffer, Christine. (1996) "French Influence on Middle English Morphology: A Corpus-Based Study of Derivation" Walter de Gruyter & Co., D-10785 Berlin, Germany.


17 Boxell, Geoff. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "Effect of the Norman Conquest on the English Language," http://geoffboxell.tripod.com/words.htm


18 Ager, Simon (Published online July 11, 2007, Retrieved online April 28, 2010). "The Influence of French on the English Language" http://www.cactuslanguagetraining.com/en/french/view/the-influence-of-french-on-the-english-language/

19 Ager, Simon (Published online July 11, 2007, Retrieved online April 28, 2010). "The Influence of French on the English Language" http://www.cactuslanguagetraining.com/en/french/view/the-influence-of-french-on-the-english-language/

20 Boxell, Geoff. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "Effect of the Norman Conquest on the English Language," http://geoffboxell.tripod.com/words.htm

21


 Jurice, Dane. (Published online in 2003, Retrieved on April 30, 2010). "Dissertation: The Influence of French on English in the Early Modern Period." University of Toronto Press, Canada http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/6362Jurcic1.htm


22 Jurice, Dane. (Published online in 2003, Retrieved on April 30, 2010). "Dissertation: The Influence of French on English in the Early Modern Period." University of Toronto Press, Canada http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/6362Jurcic1.htm


23 Lawless, Laura K. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "How French Has Influenced English, Les influences de la langue française dans la langue anglaise" About.com. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/frenchinenglish.htm


24 Schiltz, Guillaume. (Published online on February 06, 2004. Retrieved online April 30, 2010). "eHistLing- World-Wide English" Lecture 7: World-Wide English. http://www.ehistling-pub.meotod.de/01_lec06.php#31

25 EnglishEnglish.com (Retrieved on April 30, 2010) "The English Language- Facts and Figures" http://englishenglish.com/english_facts_6.html


26Lawless, Laura K. (Retrieved online on April 28, 2010) "How French Has Influenced English, Les influences de la langue française dans la langue anglaise" About.com. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/frenchinenglish.htm







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