French borrowings in the english language

INTODUCTION. The English language has undergone immense changes over the years of its development from Old English to Modern English as it is known today.It has been shaped by a number of other languages over centuries.During the Old English period the English language,which was based on the dialectical of three Germanic tribes(Angles,Jutes,and Saxons),was already influenced by different invading armies like the Celts(Celtic),the Roman missionaries(Latin)and the Viking raiders(Old Norse).


The English language has undergone immense changes over the years of its development from Old English to Modern English as it is known today.It has been shaped by a number of other languages over centuries.During the Old English period the English language,which was based on the dialectical of three Germanic tribes(Angles,Jutes,and Saxons),was already influenced by different invading armies like the Celts(Celtic),the Roman missionaries(Latin)and the Viking raiders(Old Norse).

But especially during the Middle English period(1150-1500)another language, namely French,exerted a significant influence on the English language and were therefore responsible for great changes brought to English over the years.During this time over 10,000 French words were adopted into English and about 75 percent of these are still in use.But changes did not just happen in the English vocabulary.This grammar(mainly word order),the spelling and pronunciation had to undergo changes,as well.It was a period of great change where English turned from an inflected language with reduced inflection and a more rigid word order.The linguistic justification for considering the end of the 15th century as the end of the Middle English period is the complete restructing of the English vowel system that affected all long stressed vowels known as the Great Vowel Shift.

Although,these enormous changes were important for the improvement of the English language,there were also disadvantages to it.The loss of native words,the different Middle English dialects and the need of a standart English are only some examples of this.

The French influence on the English vocabulary had its greatest expansion in the period of the Middle English(1150-1500).The reason for that are ,firstly,the bilingualism in English which had been prevailing since the Norman Conquest in 1066.Secondly,the English culture was regarded as inferior,i.e.,it had more to gain from the language spoken by the upper classes.Although,these extensive changes were important for the improvement of the English language,there were also disadvantage to it.The loss of native words, the different Middle English dialects,

the need of a Standard English are only some examples for this.Does that mean the English we speak today would not have been the same,if there had been no French influence?

Undoubtedly,every influence on something does change the circumstances of it,otherwise it would not be an influence.The question now would be,if English really profited from the French language or if it was more a drawback to its further development.We shall show the historical conditions from the Norman Conquest up to the 15th century in a diachronical way,as it is important to know about situation in England at that time to understand the changes in the English language.As the French influence hardly affected the English grammar,it affected the changes in the vocabulary mostly.The French influence was the most effective in the period of great change-the Middle English.

This work will focus on the French influence on Middle English from the Norman Conquest in 1066 up to the 15th century.First I shall start with an explanation of historical events,as it is important to know the historical backgrounds and the situation in England during that time to understand the changes in the English language.Afterwards the focus of this work will rest on the effect of the French language onMiddle English vocabulary,spelling and phonolo-gy.This work will show that French was one of the languages which had an immense influence on the English language and affected it over the years.Lastly,in my conclusion I shall summarize my results.


Historical Background.

1.1.The Norman Conquest.The battle of Hastings.

The Middle English period is usually set between 1150 and 1500,because the texts that appear after 1150 are significantly different in morphology and syntax compared to earlierntexts.However,the historical event that is often named as the beginning of the Middle English period occurred almost one hundred years earlier at the end of the Old English period and is widely known as the Norman Conquest by William,Duke of Normandy,in1066.

Soon after Canute’s death (1042) and the collapse of his empire the old Anglo-Saxon line was restored but their reign was short-lived. The new English king, Edward the Confessor (1942-1066), who had been reared in France, brought over many Norman advisors and favorites; he distributed among them English lands and wealth to the considerable resentment of the Anglo-Saxon nobility and church hierarchy. He not only spoke French himself but insisted on it being spoken by the nobles at his court. William, Duke of Normandy, visited his court and it was rumored that Edward appointed him his successor. In many respites Edward paved the for Norman infiltration long before the Norman Conquest. However, the government of the country was still in the hands of Anglo-Saxon feudal lords, headed by the powerful Earl Godwin of Wessex.

In 1066, upon Edward’s death, the Elders of England proclaimed Harold Godwin king of the English. As soon as the news reached William of Normandy, he mustered a big army by promise of land and plunder (one third of his soldiers were Normans, other, mercenaries from all over Europe) and, with the support of the Pope, landed in Britain.

In the battle of Hastings, fought in October 1066, Harold was killed and the English were defeated. This date is commonly known as the date of the Norman Conquest, though the military occupation of the country was not completed until a few years later. After the victory of Hastings, William by passed London cutting it off from the North and made the William of London and the bishops at Westminster Abbey crown him king. William his barons laid waster many lands in England, burning down villages and estates. They conducted a relentless campaign of subjugation, devastated and almost depopulated Northumbria and Mercia, which tried to rise against the conquerors. Huge stone Norman castles if earthen forts and wooden stockades, built during the campaign, soon replaced scores. Most of the lands of the Anglo-Saxon lords passed into the hands of the Norman barons, William’s own possession comprising about one third of the country. The Normans occupied all the important ports in the church, in thee government and in the army.

Following the conquest hundreds of people from France crossed the Channel to make their home in Britain were also dukes of Normandy and, about a hundred years later, took possession of the whole western half of France, thus bringing England into still closer contact with the continent. French monks, tradesmen and craftsmen flooded the southwestern towns, so that not only the higher nobility but also much of the middle class was French.

The Norman Conquest was not only a great event in British political history but also the greatest single event in the history of the English language. Its earliest effect was a drastre change in the linguistic situation.

The Norman Conquerors of England had originally come from Scandinavia. About one hundred and fifty years before they scized the valley of the Scine and settled in what was henceworth known as Normandy. They were swiftly assimilated by the French and in the 11th century came to Britain as French speakers and bearers of French culture. They spoke the Northern dialect if French, which differed in some points from Central, Parisian French. Their tongue in Britain is often reffered to as ‘Anglo-French’ or ‘Anglo-Norman’, but may just as well be called French, since we are less concerned here with the distinction of French dialects than with the continuous French influence upon English, both in the Norman period of history and a long while after the Anglo-Norman language had ceased to exist.

In the early 13th c., as a result of lengthy and inefficient wars with France John Lackland lost the French provinces, including the dukedom of Normandy. Among other consequences the loss of the lands in France cut off the Normans in Britain from France, which speeded up the Anglo-France, which speeded up the decline of the Anglo-French language.

In England,the Normans did not ban the native inhabitans,but took over the English aristocracy and other important positions.The example of one Saxon being an Earl among 12 others of Norman origin by 1072 serves to underline this thesis.

The same happened to English bishops and abbots who were gradually replaced.Most of the native English people belonged to the lower class and besides,had to complete with Norman merchants and craftsma.In conclusion,one can quote the words of Baugh and Cable,stating:

It is quite impossible to say how many Normans and French people settled in England in the century and a half following the Norman Conquest, but their influence was out of all proportion to their number.

These developments also had consequences for the language. French or more clearly, Norman French "became the new language of power and prestige" as the Normans continued to use their own language. They also held strong connections with France. Often, the ruling class still had property on the continent so that they travelled in between the two countries. Even the king spend a considerable amount of time in France. One can sum it up by saying that the French influence would have been less, if the constant contact between France and England had not been maintained. In addition to that, French was also the language of power all over Europe. It was considered as a superior language to English as plays and poetry were written in this language.In contrast to that, English was only the oral language of the lower classes and was therefore regarded as inferior. Neither the French ruling class, nor the English people were able to speak the other language perfectly. "The more general social structure of the Norman settlement meant that equal competence in both languages was rare."

By 1100 English had changed sufficiently to be classed as a 'new' version of English, descended from, but quite different to,Old English.

Middle English had five major dialects, Northern, West Midland, East Midland, Southwesterm and Kentish. It was characterised by the extreme loss of inflections, almost complete standardisation of the plural to 's' and the introduction of a large number of Norman French and Low German words. The French came, of course, from the French speakers who now controlled the government, the law and the church. The Low German from the large number of Flemish the Normans had first hired as mercenaries and then used to settle those parts of the country they had harried and depopulated.

So, how had the changes come about? When the Norse had settled in England they brought with them a language that was from the same linguistic family, and indeed enabled them to be understood by their English neighbours. The culture was also similar, not surprising considering that the original English had come from Scania, Denmark and the North Sea coast bordering Denmark. In addition the new comers supplemented, rather than replaced, both the aristocracy and the commons. As a result assimilation was very quick and easy even before the fighting stopped. The Normans brought with them an alien culture and language. Add to this their social status as the new ruling class, and it is no shock to find that assimilation was slower, and the new society and language that emerged was so radically changed from that which they found when they arrived uninvited in 1066.

English, which had been a written language since the conversion to Christianity, was rapidly dropped as the language for royal and legal charters and proclamations, not reappearing until Simon De Montfort's Parliament issued the Provisions of Oxford in 1258. The replacement language was usually Latin, though often duplicated in French. French was the language of the royal court, the legal system and the church. The use of French was reinforced by the fact that many of the new aristocracy and religious houses had extensive holdings in France. This state of affairs changed slightly in 1204 when King John lost Normandy, but did not really end until after the English were finally expelled from France at the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453.

The result of English disappearing as a written language was the removal of any restraints on language development. This assisted the simplification of the grammar as the folk strove to find the simplest way to communicate with people who did not speak English as their first language. The process that had started with the compromises needed to allow English and Norse to understand each other better gathered speed as the Anglo-Scandinavians sought to communicate with both their linguistic cousins, the Flems, and the alien Normans and French. This development was not dissimilar to that of Vulgar Latin as it changed into the various Romance languages as mentioned earlier. By the time the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle stopped being written at its last stronghold in Peterborough in 1154, its West Saxon English was already obsolete.

The ruling classes spoke French, as did the many merchants that flocked to England following the Conquest. Those that dealt with them, or had ambitions to join them, had to learn at least some of the language. However, it cannot be assumed that the ruling classes and the merchants did not quickly come to at least understand English if not speak it. It would have been very difficult to oversee an estate or buy and sell unless you could communicate, though it was noted at the time that there was a flourishing job market for translators. This may have sufficed for many of those who arrived with William the Bastard, but surely not for their children, brought up by an English wet nurse and with English servants. It is hard to imagine that those children did not absorb the language at the same time as they supped the milk. It should also be borne in mind that many of the Normans married English wives, often the widows or daughters of the previous English landholder. In such a household both parties would need to learn at least a smattering of the others native language. At a lower level, the need to learn at least simplified English was essential. Many a Norman or Frenchman was granted a holding (which he would re-name a manor) as reward for services rendered during the Conquest. With a totally English workforce and possibly an English wife and no French speakers for miles learning English would have been the number one priority.

From documentary evidence we know that by 1160 an English knight had to retain a Norman to teach his son French. Around 1175 a noble woman warns her husband of danger in English, not French as might have been expected. In 1191 one of four knights in a legal dispute cannot speak French when appearing at a court where the proceedings were still conducted in that language. By 1200 phrase books teach French as a foreign language are being produced. In the same year the poet Brut's 'The Owl and the Nightingale' appears and signals the rebirth of English (now Middle English) as a literary language.

This Middle English was the basis for the modern English we speak and write today.The number of words used had expanded greatly,with French normally supplementing rather than replacing the English,allowing shade of meaning not available to other languages.Thus,we can either deem or judge a matter to be right or wrong,with to deem being a personal opinion whilst to judge is a formal declaration.”Cattle”become “beef”and “swine” “pork”when killed and dressed for the table,yet conversely”a flower”is a bloom”when put on display.Hopefully it will have a pleasant French “odour”,”aroma or scent ” rather than a Middle English “smell”or “worse”,an Old English stench!Also adding to the store of words were French words that had been given and the English beginning or ending.For example,the French “gentle”joins the English man/woman to give “gentleman/woman”,or gets an English ending to become ”gently”,or even more bedecked with English as “ungentlemany”.

Despite this the language is still basically Germanic and basic words are still derived from Old English.Taking the body as an example,whilst we may have French “spirit”,our body still has English arms,legs,hands,feet,head,eyes,ears,nose and mouth,plus brain,liver,lungs,arse and men bollocks.

The invasion of 1066 caused a startling linguistic division to take place, between ‘low’ Anglo-Saxon and ‘high’ Norman French. French became the language of Courts and Kings; the language of honour, justice and chivalry. Poor old Anglo-Saxon English was relegated to ‘commoner’ status, the language of ‘the people’. In fact, legend tells us that William the Conqueror tried to learn English but failed, and for 300 years afterwards the Kings of England spoke French as their first language.

Moreover, quite soon after the invasion, English landowners became so ‘Frenchified’ that a sub-class called ‘latimiers’ arose. They were interpreters whose sole task was to mediate between the Norman-speaking landowners and their Anglo-Saxon-speaking labourers. In this social division we can partly explain the differences that exist today in modern Britain between the upper and lower classes and their greatly varying accents. Think Prince Phillip, and think Oasis: hardly the same language, is it? Well, at one time it wasn’t!

So just how and why did this linguistic divide along social lines take place? To answer this we need to look at how King William went about his conquering. After reducing the country to submission, he set about building a strong Norman state on the existing Saxon institutions. Therefore the Crown retained great powers over military, legal, economic and church matters: but it was now a Norman Crown, speaking Norman French. Moreover, the Normans’enthusiasm for keeping records, preferably in Latin, meant that the Saxons’oral traditions were soon replaced at the cultural and administrative levels too. In short, Saxon English got turfed out into the fields and the gutters. However, here it slowly began to pick up bits of the language that had thrown it there, and in this way English began its progress back towards dominance.

In fact, many words of French origin soon came to be assimilated into English usage. The earliest adoptions were, unsurprisingly, words such as ‘duc’, ‘cuntess’, and ‘curt’ (now duke, countess. and court). Other words like ‘messe’ (mass) and ‘clerc’ (scholar) also reflected the Normans’ dominance in the state institutions of court and church.

Interestingly, as the Dukedom of Normandy fell under the control of the French King in Paris, the Norman-French words were followed by words imported from central France. This serves to explain why in English we have two variants for ‘warden’ and ‘guardian’, ‘convey’ and ‘convoy’, as well as ‘gaol’ and ‘jail’. Estimates put a figure of 20% on the amount of French words that had wheedled their way into Saxon English by the 14th century, although the highest frequency words in the language were still those of Germanic origin.

We can see evidence of the ‘class-division’ of the language in relatively modern times. When Winston Churchill wanted to appeal to the hearts and mind of the common Englander during the last war, he used words of almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon stock. The bare statement “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender” contains only one word of French origin - ‘surrender’. Had he chosen to use ‘give up’ instead, he would have been 100% pure Anglo-Saxon!

Just how English would have developed if there had been no Norman Conquest is a matter of conjecture.No doubt it would have continued the simplification that had started with the arrival of the Norse,but it is doubtful if it would have become the wonderful tool it is today.

1.2.Consequences of Norman Conquest.

Since the Norman Conquest in 1066 the French language became more and more important.English nobility and other important positions in the church,mili-tary and other institutions were newly occupied by the French invaders.Now the upper class in England was replaced by Normans and French became their dominant language.However,the new ruling class formed only a minority of the population and the language existed side by side.The new kings of England spoke French,took French wives and lived mostly in France.

In the following years,the new order was accepted by the English people and as a result the English and Normans formed a new assorted society.

The most immediate consequence of the Norman domination in Britain is to be seen in the wide use of French language in many spheres of life.For almost three hundred years French was the official language of administration:it was the language of king’s court,the law courts,the church,the army and the castle.It was also every day language of many nobles,of the higher clergy and of many townspeople in the South.The intellectual life,literature and education were in the hands of French-speaking people;French,alongside Latin,was the language of writing.Teaching was largely conducted in French and boys at school were taught to translate their Latin into French instead of English.

It was not the case that Norman and Central French annihilated existing English words. Instead, these sources plus Latin created registers; i.e. styles of speaking and vocabularies that could be distinguished in terms of how polite or formal they are. So English suddenly has twins or even lexical triplets of words with the same referents, but different social connotations.

kingly (O.E) royal (Fr.) regal (L.)

rise (O.E.) mount (Fr.) ascend (L.)

ask question interrogate

fast firm secure

holy sacred consecrated

fire flame conflagration

How do we distinguish these words? While they have the same reference or meaning, the Old English source is more down-to-earth and common than the more polite French-based word, and the more ornate or sophisticated Latin-based one.

Let’s try to figure out which is the word that is native—Old English—and which is originally a French borrowing:

ox beef

pig, swine pork

infant child

judgment doom

freedom liberty

felicity happiness

help aid

conceal hide

holy saintly

love charity

meal repast

aroma stench

wedding marriage

desire wish

It was in this period that Parliament began its gradual evolution into the democratic body which is it today. The word “parliament”, which comes from the French word parler (to speak), was first used in England in the thirteenth century to describe an assembly of nobles called together by the king. In 1295, the Model Parliament set the pattern for the future by including elected representatives from urban and rural areas.

Many food names in English are French borrowings. After the Norman Conquest under William the Conqueror (1066) French words began to enter the English language increasing in number for more than tree centuries. Among them were different names of dishes. The Norman barons brought to Britain their professional cooks who showed to English their skill.

Learners of the English language notice that there is one name for a live beast grazing in the field and another for the same beast when it is killed and coked. The matter is that English peasants preserved Anglo-Saxon names for the animals they used to bring to Norman castles to sell. But the dishes made of the meat got French names. That is why now we have native English names of animals: ox, cow, calf, sheep, swine, and French names of meals from whose meat they are cooked: beef, veal, mutton, pork. (By the way “lamb” is an exception, it is a native Anglo-Saxon word). A historian writes that an English peasant who had spent a hard day tending his oxen, calves, sheep and swine probably saw little enough of the beef, veal, mutton and pork, which were gobbled at night by his Norman masters.

The French enriched English vocabulary with such food words as bacon, sausage, gravy; then: toast, biscuit, cream, sugar. They taught the English to have for dessert such fruits as: fig, grape, orange, lemon, pomegranate, peach and the names of these fruits became known to the English due the French. The English learned from them how to make pastry, tart, jelly, treacle. From the French the English came to know about mustard and vinegard. The English borrowed from the French verbs to describe various culinary processes : to boil, to roast, to stew,

to fry.

One famous English linguist exclaimed: “It is melancholy to think what the

English dinner would have been like, had there been no Norman Conquest!”.

For all that, England never stopped being an English-speaking country. The bulk of the population held fast to their own tongue: the lower classes in the towns, and especially in the country-side, those who lived in the Midlands and up north, continued to speak English and looked upon French as foreign and hostile. Since most of the people were illiterate, the English language was almost exclusively used for spoken communication.

At first the two languages existed side by side without mingling. Then, slowly and quickly, they began to permeate each other. The Norman barons and the French town-dwellers had to pick up English words to make themselves understood while the English began to use French words in current speech. A good knowledge of French would mark a person of higher standing giving him a certain social prestige probably many people become bilingual and had a fair command of both languages.

These peculiar linguistic conditions could not remain static. The struggle between French and English was bound to end ion the complete victory of English, for English was the living language of the entire people, while French was restricted to certain social spheres and to writing. Yet the final victory as still a long way off. In the 13th c. only a few steps were made in that direction. The earliest sign of the official recognition of English by the Norman hinges was the famous Proclamation issued by Henry 3 in 1258 to the councilors in Parliament. It was written in three languages: French, Latin and English.

The three hundreds years of the domination of French affected English more than any other foreign influence before or after. The early French borrowings reflect accurately the spheres of Norman influence upon English life; later borrowings can by attributed to the continued cultural, economic and political contacts between the countries. The French influence added new features to the regional and social differentiation of the language. New words, coming from French, could not be adopted simultaneously by all the speakers if English; they were first used in some varieties of the language, namely in the regional dialects of Southern England and in the speech if the upper classes, but were unknown in the other varieties of the language.

The use of a foreign tongue as the state language, the diversity of the dialects and the decline of the written form of English created a situation extremely favorable for increased variation and for more intensive linguistic change.

In the course Early M.E. the area if the English language in the British Isles grew. Following the Norman Conquest the former Celtic kingdoms fell under Norman recluse. Wales was subjugated in the late 12th c. the English made their first attempts to conquest Ireland. The invaders settled among the Irish and were soon assimilated, a large proportion of the invaders being Welshmen. Though part of Ireland was ruled from England, the country remained divided and had little contact with England. The English language was used there alongside Celtic languages-Irish and Welsh – and was influenced by Celtic.

The E.M.E. dialectal division was preserved in the succeeding centuries, though even in Late M.E. the linguistic situation changed. In Early M.E. while the state language and the main language of literature was French, the local dialects were relatively equal. In Late M.E., when English had been reestablished as the main language of administration and writing, one of the regional dialects, the London dialect, prevailed over the others.

For a long time after the Norman Conquest there were two written languages in England, both of them foreign: Latin and French. English was held in disdain as a tongue used only by common illiterate people and not fit for writing. In some dialects the gap in the written tradition spanned almost two hundred years.

The earliest samples of Early M.E. prose are the new entries made in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles from the year 1122 to the year 1154, known as the Peterborough Chronicle.

The works in the vernacular, which began to appear towards the end of the 12th century, were mostly of a religions nature. The great mass of these works are homilies, sermons in prose and verse, paraphrases from the Bible, psalms and prayers. The earliest of these religious works, the Poema Morala (‘Moral Ode’) represent the Kentish dialect of the late 12th or the early 13th.

Of particular interest for the history of the language is ‘Ormulum’, a poem composed by the monk Orm in about 1200 in the North-East Midland dialect (Lineolnshire). It consist of unrhymed metrical paraphrases of the Gospels. The text abounds in Scandinavianists and lacs French borrowings. Its most outstanding feature is the spelling system devised by the author. He doubled the consonants after short vowels in closed syllables and used special semicircular marks over short vowels in open syllables. Here are some lines from the poem where the author recommends that these rules should be followed I copying the poem.

Early M.E. written records represent different local dialects, which were relatively equal as forms of the written language, beneath the twofold oppression of Anglo-Norman and Latin writing. They retained a certain literary authority until it was overshadowed in the 14th c. by the prestige of the London written language.

The domination of the French language in England came to an end in the source of the 14th c. The victory of English was predetermined and prepared for by previous events and historical conditions. Little by little the Normans and English drew together and intermingled. In the 14th c. Anglo-Norman was a dead language; it appeared as corrupt French to those who had access to the French of Paris through books, education or direct contacts. The number of people who Knew French had fallen; Anglo-Norman and French literary compositions had lost their audience and had to be translated into English.

Towards the end of the 14th c. the English language had taken the place of French as the language of literature and administration. English was once more the dominant speech of all social classes in all regions. It had ousted French since it had always remained the mother tongue and the only spoken language of the bulk of the population.

It may be interesting to mention some facts showing how the transition came about. In 1362 Edward 3 gave his consent to an act of Parliament ordaining that English be used in the law courts, sine ‘French has become much unknown in the realm’. This reform, however, was not carried out for years to come: French, as well as Latin, continued to be used by lawyers alongside English until the 16th c. Yet many legal documents which have survived from the late 14th and 15th c. are written in English: wills, municipal acts, petitions. In 1363, for the first tome in history, Parliament was opened by the King’s chancellor with an address in English. In 1399 King Henry 4 used English in his official speech when accepting the throne. In 1404 English diplomats refused to conduct negotiations with France in French, claiming that the language was unknown to them. All these events testify to the recognition of English as the state language.

Howly and inevitably English regained supremey in the field of education. As early as 1349 it was ruled that English should be used at school in teaching Latin, but it was not until 1385 that the practice became general, and even the universities began to conduct their curricula in English. By the 15th c. the ability to speak French had come to be regarded as a special accomplishment, and French like Latin, was learnt as a foreign language. At the end of the 15th c. William Caxton, the first English printer, observed: ‘the most quantity of the people understand not Latin nor French here in this noble realm of England’.

One might have expected that the triumph of English would lead to weakening of the French influence upon English. In reality, however, the impact of French became more apparent. As seen from the surviving written texts, French loan-words multiplied at the very time when English became a medium of general communication. The large-scale influx of French loads can be attributed to several causes. It is probably that many French words had been in current use for quite a long time before they were first recorded. As it was aforementioned records in Early M.E. were scare and came mostly from the Northern and Western regions, which were least affected by French influence. Later M.N. texts were produced in London and in the neighboring areas, with a mixed and largely bilingual population. In numerous translation from French – which became necessary when the French language was going out of use-many loan-words were employed for the sake of greater precision, for want of a suitable native equivalent or due to the translator’s inefficiency. It is also important that in the course of the 14th c. the local dialects were brought into closer contact; they intermixed and influenced one another: therefore the infiltration of French borrowings into all the local and social varieties of English progressed more rapidly.

What the Norman Conquest really did was to tear away the veil that literary conservatism had thrownover changes of the spoken tongue.The ambition of Englishmen to acquire the language of the ruling class,and the influx of foreign monks into the religious houses that were the sourses of literary instruction,soon brought about the cessation of all systematic training in the use of English.The upper and middle classes became bilingual;and,though English might still be the language which they preferred to speak,they learned at school to read and write nothing but French,or French and Latin.When those who had been educated under the new conditions tried to write English,the literary conventions of the past generation had no hold upon them;they could write no otherwise than as they spoke.This is the true explanation of the apparently rapid change in the grammar of English about the middle of the twelfth century.

It would,however,be a mistake to say that the new conditions produced by the Conquest were wholly without influence on the inflectional structure of the spoken language.Under the Norman kings and their successors,England was politically and administratively united as it had never been before;intercourse between the different parts of the country became less difficult;and the greater freedom of intercommunication assisted the Southward diffusion of those grammatical simplifications that had been developed in the Northern dialect.The use of the French language among large classes of the population,which has left such profound traces in the English vocabulary,must have tended to accelerate the movement towards disuse of inflectional endings:though this influence must remain rather a matter of abstract probability than of demonstrable fact,because we have no means of distinguishing its effect from those of other causes that were operating in the same direction.Perhaps,the use of the preposition of instead of the genitive inflection,and the polite substitution of the plural for the singular in pronouns of the second person,were due to imitation of French modes of expression;but,in other respects,hardly any specific influence of French upon English grammar can be shown to have existed.

As with other foreign influences, the impact of French is to be found, first and foremost, in the vocabulary. The layers and the semantic spheres of the French borrowings reflect the relations between the Norman rulers and the English population, the dominance of the French language in literature and the contacts with French culture. The prevalence of French as the language of writing led to numerous changes in English spelling.


The French Influence on English Vocabulary.

2.1.Borrowings and Loanwords .

Borrowing words from other languages is characteristic of English throughout its history.More than two thirds of the English vocabulary are borrowings.Mostly they are words of Romanic origin(Latin,French,Italian,Spanish).Borrowed words are different from native ones by their phonetic structure,by their morphological structure and also by their grammatical forms.It is also characteristic of borrowings to be non-motivated semantically.English history is very rich in different types of contracts with other countries,that is why it is very rich in borrowings.The Roman invasion,the adoption of Christianity,Scandinavian and Norman conquests of the British Isles,the development of British colonialism and trade and cultural relations served to increase immensely the English vocabulary.The majority of these borrowing are fully assimilated in English in their pronunciation, grammar ,spel-

ling and can be hardly distinguished from native words.

English continues to take in foreign words,but now the quantity of borrowings is not so abundant as it was before.All the more so,English now become a “giving”language,it has become Lingva franca of the twentieth century.

Borrowings can be classified according to different criteriation a:a)according to the aspect which is borrowed,b)according to the degree of assimilation,c)according to the language from which the word was borrowed.(In this classification only the main languages from which words were borrowed into English are described,such as Latin,French,Italian,Spanish,German and Russian).

Classification of Borrowings according to the borrowed aspect. There are the following group : phonetic borrowings,translation loans,semantic borrowings,mor-

phemic borrowing.Phonetic borrowing are most characteristic in all languages,they are called loan words proper.Words are borrowed with their spelling,pronunciation and meaning.Then they undergo assimilation,each sound in the borrowed word is substituted by the corresponding sound of the borrwing language.In some cases the spelling is changed.The structure of the word can also be changed.The position of the stress is very often influenced by the phonetic system of the borrowing language.The paradigm of the word,and sometimes the meaning of the borrowed word can also changed.Such words as:labour,travel,table,

chair,people are phonetic borrowings from French.

Translation loans are word-for-word(or morpheme-for-morpheme)translation of some foreign words or expressions.In such cases:the notion is borrowed from a foreign language but it is expressed by native lexical units,”to take the bull by the horns”(Latin),”fair sex”(French),”living space”(German),etc.

Semantic borrowings are such units when a new meaning of the unit existing in the language is borrowed.It can happen when we have two relative languageswhich have common words with different meaning,e.g.,there are semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English,such as meaning “to live”for the word “to dwell”in which in Old English had the meaning”to wander”.

Morphemic borrowings are borrowings of affixes which occur in the language when many words with identical affixes are borrowed from one language into another,so that the morphemic structure of borrowed words becomes familiar to the people speaking the borrowing language,e.g.,we can find a lot of Romanic affixes in the English word-building system , that is why there are a lot

of words_hybrids in English where different morphemes have different origin,e.g.,”goddess”,”beautiful”.

Classification of borrowings according to the degree of assimilation. The degree of assimilation of borrowings depends on the following factors:a)from what group group of languages the word was borrowed,if the word belongs to the same group of languages to which the borrowing language belongs it is assimilated easier,b)in what way the word is borrowed:orally or in the written form,words borrowed orally are assimilated quicker,c)how often the borrowing is used in the language,the greater the frequency of its usage,the quicker it is assimilated,d)how long the word lives in the language,the longer it lives,the more assimilated it is.

Accordingly borrowings are subdivided into:completely assimilated,partly assimilated and non-assimilated(barbarisms).

Completely assimilated borrowings are not felt as foreign words in the language,cf.the French word”sport” and the native word”start”.

Partly assimilated borrowings are subdivided into the following group:a)borrowings non-assimilated semantically,because they denote objects and notions peculiar to the country from the language of which they were borrowed.e.g.,sari,sombrero,taiga,kvass,etc.

b)borrowings non-assimilated grammatically,e.g.nouns borrowed from Latin and Greek retain their plural forms(bacillus-bacilli,phenomenon-phenomena,datum-data,genius-genii etc.

c)borrowings non-assimilated phonetically.Here belong words with the initial sounds/v/ and/z/,e.g.,voice,zero.

Non-assimilated borrowings(barbarisms) are borrowings which are used by Englishmen rather seldom and are non-assimilated,e.g.addio(Italian),tete-a-tete(French),dolce vita(Italian),an home a femme(French),etc.

Classification of Borrowings according to the language from which they were borrowed. Although the mixed character of the English vocabulary can not be denied and the part of borrowing in its development is indded one of great importance,the leading role in the history of this vocabulary belongs to word-formation and semantic changes patterned according to the specific features of the English language system.This system absorbed and remodelled the vast majority of loan words according to its own standards,so that it is sometimes difficult to tell an old borrowing from a native word.Examples are:cheese,street,wall,wine and other words belonging to the earliest layer of Latin borrowings.Many loan words,on the other hand,in spite of the changes they have undergone after penetrating into English,retain some peculiarities in pronunciation,spelling,ortheopy and morphology.

2.2.Assimilation of French words.

The Norman Conquest changed the language situation of the uppermost parts of the upper echelons only. These included the aristocracy, the higher members of the clergy, legal professionals, political circles, and highest economic classes. Here, because of the prestige of French (Norman, not metropolitan French), anybody who wanted to make it, spoke French. As time goes on, there are reports of upper class children learning to speak French as a second language. The language that people wrote was mainly French. It was the language of courtly literature, of Romance [originally a story written in the Romance language, i.e. in this case, French]. An important group of stories in this tradition was those that concerned King Arthur. Although Arthur was probably a Celtic hero, after the Norman Conquest, the stories were taken over and adapted by the Norman ruling class. Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table became the models of the French concepts of chivalry and courtesy.

From the middle of the 13thc onward, French was beginning to be accepted as an alternative language of record. In courts of law, the previous practice with regard to Latin was transferred to French, and the words of people speaking English were recorded in French. This means it’s actually very hard to determine which language people were speaking in court, unless the court recorder explicitly mentions it.

Lower down the social and literacy scales, people spoke English. The local parish priest was likely to speak English, and the magistrate was also likely to speak English. English was everywhere, French was mainly in London, at court, in law and in the church. This left the vast majority of English people English. Unlike the Viking invasions, which affected every level of society, the Norman Conquest mainly affected the top. The proportion of England’s population that was Norman was at the most 2%, way too small for it to shape the whole society.

Despite the fact that there were so few Norman French speakers in England, English absorbed lots of Norman French—spelling, pronunciation, and NB.

Let’s look at the influence of French on the vocabulary, and then examine the social conditions that made French such an important source of borrowing for English.What areas of life were affected or change by French?Administration,law, church, and military; food and drink,fashion,science and learning,etc.

Why did English borrow so many words from Norman French? Compare the situation with the Celtic flight before the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. The key is the Prestige of French—but need to interpret this matter more sensitively—while Norman French was the initial influence, this lasted only a hundred years.

How the French language has influenced the English? A. L. P. Smith has pointed out in his book "The English Language" that "the main additions to the English language, additions so great as to change its character in a fundamental way, were from French, first of all from the Northern French of Norman conquerors and then from the literary and learned speech of Paris." Even before the Norman conquest, the English had become acquainted with the Norman culture and the way of its life, because of the social, political and Ecclesiastical intercourse between the two nations. During the reign of Edward, the confessor, several Norman nobles were placed in important positions in England and the fortified buildings in which they stayed were known as 'castels' (castles), 'capun' (capon) and 'bacun' (bacon) are two other words introduced at the tea time and they serve to suggest the greater luxury of French cooking which was new to the English. After the conquest, we find a stream of French words entering the English vocabulary and they suggest the influence of an occupying power over a conquered people. 'Prisun' (prison), 'tur' (tower), 'market', 'rent', 'justice', etc., have been thus introduced into the English language. After the Norman conquest, we find the 'church', the 'courts of law', the 'arts of war', trade with the 'continent' and the 'pastimes' of the aristocracy becoming Norman-French intermingling. Words like 'battle', 'court', 'countess', 'treasure', 'charity', etc., were derived from French. In the thirteenth century the contact with France was much weakened. Meanwhile the English and the Normans had become merged into one people and in another hundred years English had become accepted as the National language of the country in place of Norman-French. Frenchified terminology became restricted to the court of law. Among the French legal terms which were retained and are still in use are 'plaintiff', 'defendant', 'privilege, etc. The dialect of French that was becoming culturally important was Central or Parisian French. A series of central words like 'chancellor', 'charity', 'chattel', were introduced into English though their Norman French equivalent 'cancelar', 'carited' and 'cattle' were already known to English. Among the French loans from 1100 to 1300 the following words may be taken as representative of different objects- 'prisun', 'chapel', 'grace', 'service', 'miracle', 'religion', 'bataille', 'basin', 'lamp', 'beast', etc. The 14th century witnessed a great increase in the number of French loans. These were no longer limited in use to the educated or upper class but became integral parts of the language. During this period we find that there is a very high proportion of French loan words relating to hunting, cooking and the art of war to English vocabulary. For instance 'colonel', 'lieutenant', 'major', 'captain', etc. have been derived. While French influence on the English language was general and wide spreading during the Middle English period, it was no longer so after the beginning of the 16th century. Though like Latin, French continued to be the source of new words; the French loans after the 15th century were confined to particular classes of technical words restricted in use to the better educated people. The 16th century borrowings, for instance, were mostly technical terms and the common man had little to do with them. The 17th century is significant in the history of the French loans as it was a period of very close contact between the English and the French in matters of literature and social intercourse. One if the subjects which engaged the attention of the satirists and playwrights of Restoration was the indiscriminate imitation of all things French by 'smart set' in London. Words like 'dragoon', 'stockade', 'ballet', 'burlesque', 'tableau', 'chagrin', champagne', 'native', 'forte', 'soup', etc. are the representative of the 17th century borrowings from French. While the 18th century was also rich in the French entrants into English vocabulary, the 19th century was also the richest of all in those. Along with the usual borrowings of the military terms, we find those relating to diplomacy and those called forth by the French Revolution. The loan words of the 18th century are 'guillotine', 'regime', 'bureau', 'canteen', 'picnic', 'police', 'coup', etc. The 19th century witnessed a rich harvest of French loans. These include along with the usual military terms those relating to art and letters, textiles and furniture. 'Barrage', 'communique', 'renaissance', 'restaurant', 'matinee', 'motif', 'menu', 'chauffeur', 'elite', etc. are the examples of the 19th century borrowings. The kind of objects and ideas devoted by the French loans made during the two centuries following the Norman conquest till their own story of the conquering Normans and their authority over the conquered English. Waniba the jester in Scott's "Ivanhoe" points out how the living animals like ox, sheep, chalf, swine and deer have continued to bear their English names even after the conquest while the flesh of these animals used as food has been referred to by French words like 'beef', 'mutton', 'pork', 'bacon', etc. Terms relating to war were naturally adopted from the language of the conquerors. War itself is a French word. So are 'battle', 'assault', 'banner', 'armour', etc. The terms relating to family relationships have also been borrowed from the French. Thus 'uncle', 'nephew', 'niece', 'cousin' have all come from French. The use of the French prefix was extended to 'grandson' and 'granddaughter' in Elizabethan times. 'Mother-in-law' and 'father-in-law', though compounded of English words, are literal translation of Old French designations.

The antipathy towards anything foreign, particularly if it had a papist tinge, shown by the Puritans was replaced by the wish to emulate all that was sophisticated and modern in France in particular. Latin loanwords became less frequent as French loans proliferated.

The proliferation of Fr. loans eventually became a cause of concern and as a result an anti-French faction gradually formed which aimed to check the great influx of words. To be sure, because there was no academy which dealt with such matters like in France often the gentlest of men would disagree over what was polite and proper in usage and what was affected. Even had there been an English academy, I believe that there would have been just as many disagreements because of the transitive term polite, which was the criterion for assessing affectation.

‘Polite’ became one of the most important words during the Restoration for it distinguished the speech of what came to be known as the English gentleman and the common brute. Polite usage was something quite separate from ordinary or colloquial usage.Two issues that stemmed from polite usage: proper pronunciation and appropriate vocabulary. It was common view at this time, according to N. F. Blake, “that pronunciation should be as close as possible to the written form” Thus, any speaker “who wished to be polite clearly had to be reasonably educated in order to read and to be familiar with the spelling system of the language”. Indeed, by making pronunciation dependent on spelling, nobody could be a natural polite speaker, not even the upper middle classes because it was not an imitation of a former aristocratic dialect. Education is what was of the utmost importance, not birth. Men like Jonathan Swift and John Dryden often ridiculed those who were or wanted to be members of the nobility and spoke in a strange way.

Blake observes that women were typically a target of harsh criticism because it was believed that the language they spoke was either “too affected or too coarse”. In this context affected literally refers to the use of unnecessary French loans. Hence in plays written in the Restoration period, it is quite common for female characters to be satirized for their affected use of French words.So in Dryden’s Marriage á la Mode (1673) there is ‘an Affected Lady’ called Melantha who is ‘one of those that run mad in new French words’. She peppers her conversation with phrases like mon cher, voyag’d, Bete, honete, home, bien tourney, obligeant, charmant, ravissant. In short, instead of speaking politely Melantha speaks what critics referred to as “á la Mode de Paris”.

Such satirical writing and branding however must be taken with a pinch of salt. Indeed, even Dryden was not opposed to the principal of borrowing. In fact, he defended the principal in the prefix to his translation of Virgil’s Æneid (1697). He states that our old Teuton monosyllables are all right for necessity, but if we want magnificence and splendour we must borrow words from aboard.

In assessing the linguistic situation and the criticisms, one cannot entirely rule out that it mattered who was introducing the French Loan.Women were often typically targeted because they were not permitted to influence the English language.Only the well educated and well respected gentleman/literati was permitted to borrow.When others borrowed irrespective of the reason, necessity or copia verborum, there choices and often even their character were ridiculed. To illustrate, let us take into consideration Addison remarks concerning the Duke of Marlbourough’s report on his successful campaign against the French on the continent:

The present War has so Adulterated our Tongue with strange Words, that it would be impossible for one of our Great Grandfathers to know what his Posterity had been doing, were he to read their Exploits in a Modern News Paper.The Warriors are very Industrious in Propagating the French Language, at the same time that they are so gloriously successful in beating down their Power.Addison objected to the new military words which had come into use such as manoruvre, bivouac, corps, terrain, and enfilade.However,these loans have become well established. Other military terms adopted after or just prior to the Restoration include: cartouche, brigade, platoon, mêlée, envoy, and aide-de-camp. Loans belonging to specialized registers such as the military were borrowed out of necessity.

While French loans did contribute to many specialized registers as demonstrated above, social loans such as repartee, liaison,naïve,class,décor, rapport, malapropos, métier, faux pas, beau, verve, ménage; and cultural loans such as rôle, crayon, soup, cabaret, cravat, memoirs, champagne, ballet, nom-de-plume, pool, denim, attic, mousseline and vinaigrette constitute the majority of loans.By cultural it is meant loans which would fit into the register arts, literature, dress, games and dancing, and food.

In the eighteenth century, food and cooking continued to attract French loans (e.g. casserole, croquette, ragout, hors d’ oeuvre, liqueur); so do literature, music, and art (critique, belles letters, connoisseur, vaudeveille, dénouement, précis,brochure).

The wholesale borrowing of French words was still a cause of much concern even by the eighteenth century. George Campbell protested against redundant synonymy:Are not pleasure, opinionative, and sally, as expressive as volupty, opiniatre, and sortie? Wherein is the expression last resort, inferior to dernier resort; liberal arts, to beaux arts, and polite literature, to belles letters?

In spite of such protests, many of the French loans which were branded as affections withstood the test of time as the analysis of Addison’s remark above demonstrates.As a result, the English lexis is very rich and speakers have a vocabulary at their disposal which allows them to express very fine nuances of meaning. Indeed, due to wholesale borrowing English speakers have the freedom to modulate their tone, to control the formality or informality of their language to fit the needs of their rhetorical situation, or by using the words, create the rhetorical situation they want. To illustrate, let us consider for example the French loan faux pas. Hypothetically, let us say you utter the following sentence “I realize I’d committed a serious faux pas by joking about his wife’s family” to friends (who do not have English or Linguistic majors) while telling an anecdote instead of saying “I made a serious blunder by joking about his wife’s family”. The first sentence to most native speakers feels slightly formal or even literary compared to the second sentence which is not felt to be stylistically marked.By choosing faux pas, instead of blunder or even mistake,one is modulating their style to fit the situation with its unique social variables. At any rate, many native speakers feel that the majority of social and cultural French loans are more formal or literary than their native counter part(s).

For a greater portion of the Middle English period (M.E.) French (Fr.) was the governing vernacular of England. It was the language of the ruling elite, many of which spoke little if any English, the language of the court, and the language in which polite literature was written. Hence, studies using the Oxford English Dictionary revealing that Fr. was the primary source of loans outnumbering Latin, the second largest source, four to one should hardly surprise us. As Baugh points out “where two languages exist side by side for a long time and the relations of the people speaking them are as intimate as they were in England, a considerable transference of words” is “inevitable”. As to the quantity of loans, Baugh states that it is “unbelievably great” and that “there is nothing comparable to it in the previous or subsequent history of the language”. Baugh, as well as many other linguists, believe that the upper classes carried over so many French words into English for the following reasons: to supply deficiencies in the English vocabulary; due to an imperfect command of the English vocabulary; yielding to a natural impulse to use a word long familiar to them. Whatever the motive or reason, the English lexis benefited greatly.It is necessary to point out that the majority of native speakers today would not recognize these words as foreign, because they have become apart of the common core.To illustrate, consider, for example, a sample of lexemes added to the military register: army, navy, peace, enemy, arms, battle, combat, skirmish,siege,defense,ambush, stratagem, retreat, soldier, garrison, guard, spy and the ranks of officers such as captain, lieutenant, and sergeant.They hardly seem foreign and it would be impossible to even imagine trying to discuss military matters without these lexemes.Other registers that were flooded with French borrowings were government and administration, law, ecclesiastical matter, fashion, food, social life, art learning and medicine. In the Early Modern English period (EModE), Fr. would continue to contribute to the English lexis; however, the quantity would be considerably less and motives would be different.

Because English was a “base speche” many writers such as Sir Thomas Elyot made a conscious effort to enrich the lexis. Their choice was not always a matter of practical consideration, coining new words for new concepts, but a matter of stylistic concern, providing richness to the lexis, known as copia verborum, which was considered the hallmark of a literary language.

French loans from the opening of the period to approximately the Restoration reveal that both of the aforementioned motives for borrowing are valid. To illustrate, let us take into consideration a number of military and naval terms: trophy 1513, pioneer 1523, pilot 1520, colonel 1548, volley 1573, and cartridge 1579. One could argue, and in those days many did, that the first three loans are examples of copia verborum because perfectly good native words −respectively, prize (1300), founder (1340), and steersman (1000)−existed to express these things while this cannot be said of the last three lexemes. Nonetheless, it is important to stress that one is walking on a fine line when labeling a lexeme as copia verborum. While the word steersman and pilot are almost completely synonymous at this point, the introduction of pilot did give the speaker the ability to express a fine nuance of meaning.

The latter part of Boorde’s comment that “the speche of Englande of late dayes is amended” is indicative of the shift in attitude towards the English lexis. Indeed, many felt that English was rich enough to express almost anything and that many were borrowing for the sake of magniloquence. This started a conflict known as the Inkhorn Controversy, which died down in the course of the seventeenth century.To be sure, those in favor of borrowing won the battle;however, the affectation of innovations, particularly French continued to be criticized, especially during the Restoration period.

Among the various types of changes which took place in the period in which Middle English borrowed from French through direct contact, are those which led to a mixing of Germanic and Romance elements. Thus one has cases of assimilation in which an English word was created on the basis of a similar sounding French word. Here one has an instance of the French form complementing the English one. For example, the English verb choose obtained a noun choice on the basis of a borrowing of French choix .

In some cases one can no longer decide whether the Germanic or the Romance form of a word has survived into Modern English. Thus in the case of the adjective rich one cannot tell whether it is a continuation of the Old English rice or the later French borrowing riche . However, one can in many cases see a contamination of the morphology of words due to French borrowing. With the previous adjective one can see the Romance suffix in the noun formed from it: richess as opposed to Old English richdom with the Romance ending -ess.

The form of a word may have been changed without its meaning having been affected. With the Old English word iegland / iland (cf. German Eiland) one arrives at the later spelling island under the influence of French isle. Note that the s here is unetymological, i.e. was never pronounced in English. Some French loanwords were influenced by changes later than Middle English. This is for example the case with Old French viage which was borrowed into Middle English but where the later French form voyage was borrowed into English and adapted in its pronunciation. The same is true of the Middle English noun flaute which was changed under the influence of later French flute.

The Norman Conquest of 1066 left England as a trilingual country,although most people would speak one or two of the dominant languages.Latin was the language for record keeping,learning and church.French was the language of the Norman aristocracy and therefore also the language of the common folk and menials.

When the Norman took over England,they changed the language of government and the court almost overnight and disregarded existing institutions.Instead,they took on almost wholesale institutions derived from France,including the feudal system which guaranteed strong control by the king.

There were three periods of French borrowings:The first period,from about 1066 to 1250 represents the height of Norman power.The language spoken by the Normans,known as Norman French(different from Central or Parisian French) was the language of the King’s court,the nobles’ castles and the courts of law.Norman French was therefore the language of honour,chivalry and justice.Indeed,Matthew of Westminster said,”Whoever was unable to speak French was considered a vile and contemptible person by the common people”(1263).There were not French borrowings,since English continues be used,largely in its own,low-level arenas and French and English speakers were kept separate.

We find the borrowings fall into several groups:

-Names for social roles and occupations that the lower classes would become familiar with through contact with a French-speaking nobility: baron,noble,


-Labels introduced to English through literary channels:story,rime,lay

-Church terms(largest single group)-the need transfrer doctrine and belief from clergy to the people accounts for frequent transfer of words.

-In this period,the words were borrowed as foreign words,i.e.,the French words introduced into English were the sorts of words that people speakin one language often learn from people speaking another.

So what happens to distinguish the earlier from the later period?The Norman influence waned,and the Parisian/Central/Metropolitian French became more important.This shift corresponded with a set of historical events which argually created the conditions for the re-emergence of English in the higher social strata.About 900 words were borrowed during this phase,with most of them showing the effects of Anglo-Norman phonology.In the 150 years following 1250,when all classes were speaking or learning to speak English,French loan-words entered English via speakers who were accustomed to speakin French,who now transferred these words into their adopted language,English.

The second period,roughly from 1250 to 1400 represents the period of English-French bilingualism in individuals(not just in the nation).The number of French-loanwords ballooned in this period.Why was this?

Very briefly,this is what happened.In 1204,Normandy(in northern France,where the Normans came from)was acquired by the French king.Among other thing,it meant that the Norman aristocracy in England couldn’t travel back and forth between their lands in England or France anymore.They had to choose whether they wanted to remain in England or in Fance.Those who remained in England began to see England as their home.This led to the reassertion of English as the language of realm.Other reasons for the reassertion of English are:the Normans in England belonged to the Capetian dynasty spoke Norman French;this became non-prestigious in France as the variety spoken by the Angevian dynasty in France,Parisian French, became the prestige variety;because Norman French was seen as socially inferior,it was less dificult to abandon it in favour of English;subsequently,Enland became at war with France in the Hundred Years War(1337-1453).

Even as English was o its way in,the gaps in English vocabulary had to be filled by loanwords from French. These include items pertaining to new experiences

and ways of doing things introduced by the Normans. So whilst the English already had kings,queens,and earls,terms taken from French include”count, countess, sire, madam, duke, marquis, dauphin, viscount,baron,master.Other domains that became enriched with French loanwords include:

Government and Administrative: govern,government,administer,crown,state,


chancellor,treasurer,major,noble,prince,princess,duke,squire,page (but not king,



agreement, covenant, alliance, curfew ,duty ,reign, civil, nation ,tyrant,oppression.

Ecclesiestical : religion, theology, sermon, confession, clergy, clergy, cardinal, friar,crucifix, miter,censer lectern, abbey, convent, creator,savior, virgin, faith, heresy, schism, solemn, divine, devout, preach, pray, adore, confess, fraternity,

charity,chastity, chaplan,abbot, abbes, dean,confessor,person / parson, preacher,



Legal terms : justice, equity, plaintiff, judge, advacate, attorney, felon,evidence, petition,inquest,sue,accuse,arrest,blame,libel,slander,felony,adultery,property,heir,estate,executor,privilege,statue,ordinance,judge, chief, crime, fraud, trepass, client,


process, appeal,decree, divorce,exile,heritage,prison, treason,dungeon,arrest,plead,


Military terms : (Much of the fighting during this time was done in France. Many now-obsolete words for pieces of armor, etc., were borrowed at this time.) army, navy,peace,enemy, arms,battle,spy,combat,siege,defence,ambush,soldier,guard, mail, buckler, banner, lance, besiege, defend, array, admiral, armour, artillery, war,



Clothing and ornamentation : habit, gown, robe, garment, attire, cape, coat, collar, petticoat, train, lace, embroidery, pleat, buckle, button, tassel, plume, satin, taffeta, fur, sable, blue, brown, vermilion, russet, tawny, jewel, ornament, broach, ivory, turquoise, topaz, garnet, ruby, pearl, diamond ,blouse, chemise, cloak, frock,




Food and cooking : feast,repast,collation, mess, appetite, tart, sole, perch, sturgeon, sardine, venison, beef, veal, mutton, port, bacon, toast, cream, sugar, salad, raisin, jelly, spice, clove, thyme,fry,boil,roast,mince,dine,dinner,supper,appetite,flour,lard



Social terms : curtain,couch ,lamp, wardrobe ,screen, closet, leisure, quilt,checker,

dance, carod,lute, melody,conversation,rein,stallion,trot,harness,mastiff,pheasant,


Hunting terms : rein, curry, trot, stable, harness, mastiff,spaniel, stallion, pheasant, quail, heron, joust, tournament, pavilion,etc.

Art,Learning,Medicine : painting,sculpture,music, beauty, color, image, cathedral, palace, mansion, chamber, ceiling, porch, column, poet, prose, romance, paper, pen, volume, chapter, study, logic, geometry, grammar, noun, gender, physician, malady, pain, gout, plague, pulse, remedy, poison,clause,logic,geometry,compile,


Common expressions : draw near, make believe, hand to hand, by heart, without fail (These are loan-translations).

Geography : country,coast,river,valley.lake,mountain, frontier, border, city,hamlet,

village; estate,etc.

Noble title : emperor; duke; duchess; duchy; prince; count; countess; baron; squire; noble(man/woman); gentle(man/woman); dame; damsel,chevalier,master,dauphin,


Terms referring to sections of the community: peasantry; people; subjects; burgesses; nobility; gentry; knighthood; chivalry,etc

Terms for emotional states :ease, disease, joy, delight, felicity, grief, despair, distress,courage,folly,passion,desire,jealousy,ambition,arrogance,despite,disdain,malice,envy,avarice,certainty,doubt, enjoy,despise,furious,etc

Trades and crafts : barber, butcher, carpenter, carrier,draper,forester,fruiterer; grocer; mason; mercer; merchant; spicer; painter; tailor; victualler; apprentice; surgeon; physician; bargain; fair; merchandise; price; money; coin; dozen; double; measure; gallon; bushel; purchase; profit; pay; usury; debt; prosperity; barrel; bottle; basket; vessel,etc.

Terms that expressed fundamental theological or religious concepts : creator,


Pervasive French influence on vocabulary :

by 1300-action, adventure, affection, age, air, bucket, calendar, cheer, city, coast, comfort, cost, country, courage, debt, force, flower, malice, manner,marriage, noise, odor, opinion, order, pair, people, person, poverty, sign,sound, waste,etc

by 1350-able, abundant, active, blank, calm, certain, courageous, poor,faint, easy, eager, firm, foreign, jolly, large, perfect, original, nice, hardy,safe, rude, real, solid, special, sudden, sure, tender, universal, usual, allow,apply, arrange, betray, carry, change, chase,close,complain,consider,continue, count, cry, deceive, declare, defy, defer, desire, destroy, embrace, enjoy, enter, flatter, force, grant, increase, inquire, join, marry, muse, murmur,obey observe, pass, please, prefer prove, receive, refuse, remember, reply, to take leave, to do justice, by heart, in vain, without fail, according to, at large,etc.

Assorted loanwords : affair; action; air; baggage; beauty; branch; cage; cable; cattle; chance; change; choice; company; consent; coward; couple; cry; cure; damage; danger; delay; demand; departure; difference; difficulty; error; example; exception; excercise; experience; face; fate; favour; fence; fool; force; foreign; fountain; guide; honour; labour; leisure; marriage; piece; pencil; possession; question; language; wages able; ancient; brief; certain; clear; considerable; cruel; different; difficult; easy; familiar; famous; favourable; feeble; faint; fine; general; gentle; glorious; poor; safe; sure achieve; arrive; appear; approve; approach; assemble; assist; attend; advertise; affirm; await; blame; catch; cancel; carry; cease; chase; cry; change; consent; consider; count; cover; demand; deny; depart; deserve; discover; disturb; finish; employ; encourage; enjoy; enter; excuse; escape; increase; examine; force; fail; form; grieve; marry; refuse; perish; suffer; paint; perform; propose; save; touch; travel; tremble,etc.

The conquered island of English was for centures a pale moon,illuminated by the Sun of French civilization,and it must be our task to trace the penetration of that light into English and common consciousness of the English people.

Two French words borrowed before the Conquest are of considerable interest.These are pride ,which appears about A.D 1000,and proud which came in about fifty years later.They are both derived from the French prüd (preux) in modern French which descends from the first element in Latin verb prdesse, to be of value. These words ,which in French had the meaning of valiant, brave, gallant,

soon acquired in English sense of arrogant,haughty,overweening .This change of meaning was due,perhaps,to bearing of the proud Normans who came over to England before Conquest in the train of Edward the Confessor,and the aspect in which these haughty nobles and ecclesiastics presented themselves to the Englishmen they scorned.Another word introduced at this time,and no doubt by Edward the Confessor,is chancellor-a word full of old history,which,for all its present dignity,is derived ultimately from cancer ,the Latin word for crab. How the cancellarious, a petty officer of the Eastern Empire,stationed at the bars or crab- like lattices(cancelli) of the law courts,rose from an usher to be notary or secretary and come to be infested with judical functions,and to play a more important part in the Western Empire,belongs however,to European,and not to English history; but the word is interest to us as being one of the three or four French terms that found their way into English in Anglo-Saxon times.But the French language has undergone considerable and more recent changes since the date when the Normans brought it into England.Some words that borrowed have become obsolete in their native country,some consonants have been dropped,and the sound of others has been changed,we retain,for instance,the s that the French have lost in many words like beast and feas t,which are bête and fête in Modern French.So,too,the sound of ch has become sh in France,but in English words of early borrowings,like chamber,charity ,etc.,they keep the old pronunciation.They keep,moreover,in many cases,forms peculiar to the Norman dialect,as caitiff,canker,carrion ,etc.,in which c before a did not become ch,as it did in the Parisian dialect,cark and charge are both from the same Latin word carricare ,but one is the Norman and the other the Parisian from the word.In many cases the g of Norman French was changed to j in the Central dialects and English word goal has preserved its Norhern spelling, while it is pronounced,and sometimes written,with the j of Parisian French.

As we haven seen,the main additions to the English language,additions so great as to change its character in a fundamental way,were from the French,first of all from the Northern French of the Norman conquerors,and the from the literary and learned speech of Paris.But the French language,as we have seen,is mainly based on Latin-not on the Latin of classical literature,but the popular spoken language,the speech of the soldiers and uneducated people, and the Latin words were so clipped, changed and deformed by them (not,however,capriciously,but in accordance with certain definite laws) that they are often at first unrecognizable.

From early times,however,a large number of latin words were taken into French,and thence into English,from literary Latin;and as they were never used in popular speech,they did not undergo this process of popular transformation.

With importation,therefore,of French vocabulary into English,many of the learned words borrowed first from Late,and then from Classical Latin,were adopted into English.But in England,also,Latin was spoken by clergy and learned men of the country,the Bible and the service-books were in Latin,and historical and devotional books were largely written in it.When these Latin books were translated into English,or when a scholar writing in English wished to use a latin word,he followed the analogy of the Latin words that had already come to English through the French language,and altered them as if they had first been adopted in French.It is often,therefore,difficult to say whether a Latin word has come to English through the French language,or has been taken immediately from the Latin.

A curious tendency,due not so much to the Genius of the Language as to the self-conscious action of the learned people,has affected the form of Latin words in English and French,but more drastically,perhaps,on this side of the Channel.From early times a feeling has existed that the popular forms of words were incorrect,and attepts more or less capricious and often wrong,have been made to change back to words to shapes more accordance with their original spelling.Thus,the h was added to words like umble,onour,abit ,etc;b was inserted in debt( to show its derivation from the Latin debitum ) and l in fault ,as proof of its relation to the Latin fallere ,and p found its way into receipt as a token of the Latin receptum .These pedantic forms were either borrowed direct into English from the French,or in many old words the change was made by English scholars;and in some words,as for instance debt and fault ,their additions have remained in English,while in French the words have reverted to their old spelling.These changes,as in honour,dept,receipt ,do not always affect the pronunciation;but in many words, as vault,fault,assault ,the letters pedantically inserted have come gradually to be pronounced fault rhymed with thought in the eighteenth century,and only in the nineteenth century has h come to be pronounced in humble and hospital.

Among the various types of changes which took place in the period in which Middle English borrowed from French through direct contact are those which led to a mixing of Germanic and Romance elements.Thus,one has cases of assimilation in which an English word was created on the basis of a similar sounding French word.Here one has an instance of French form complementing the English one.For example,the English verb choose obtained a noun choice on the basis of a borrowing of French choise.

As a generalization one can say that the French loans are to be found on a higher stylistic levels in English.With the later Central French borrowings this is obvious given the sectors of society where the loans occurred.The general split is between colloquial native words and more formal Romance terms and can be seen clearly I word pairs like”forgive and pardon”.Other examples are:

French English

close shut

reply answer

odour smell

annual yearly

demand ask

chamber room

desire wish

power might

ire wrath/anger

commence begin

cordial hearty

felicity happiness

aid help

conceal hide

repast meal

marriage wedding

dress clothe

amity friendship

nourish feed

liberty freedom

grief sorrow

The areas of the English lexicon in which the influence of French was to be felt reflect the spheres of life in which the French predominated in the early Middle English period.

In some cases French words supplanted even the most everyday words of the English vocabulary.Thus,the French word rivière supplanted the native word ēa river ,the French word montagne supplanted the native beor ʒ mountain,and the French paix the native friþ some individual cases there could be special conditions favouring the introduction of the foreign word;for example,the OE word ēa river became ē ,in ME and was thus phonetically much weaker than the French riviére. Its phonetical weakness might thus promoted its appearance from the language.In other cases other factors may also have been at work.

Sometimes the intruding French word forced its native synonym into a different sphere of meaning.For instance,the OE substantive hærfest ,meaning autumn ,was superseded by the French word autumn ,but survived in the English language with the meaning harvest. The semantic tie between autumn and harvest is of course clear enough.

In some similar way,the OE substantive ʒ ebed prayer was superseded by French preiere ,MnE prayer.However,the native word survived with the meaning beads ,which had developed from the original meaning prayer owing to the intermediate meaning rosary ;the number of prayers said was counted on the beads or rosary;thus,in certain circumstance,for example,five beads could mean the same as five prayers.

The degree to which French words penetrated into English depended on two factors:on the geographical region and on the social layer addressed by the document.Thus,we can state two principles in this sphere:

(1)the farther North,the fewer French words;

(2)the closer to the lower strata of society,the fewer French words.

A typical example showing the dependence of the French lexical layer on the social position of an author was found by comparing two documents belonging to the same time (early 13th century),but differing as to the social position of their authors.One of them is Ancrene Riwle(Statue for Nuns) adressed by an unknown author to three aristocratic nuns on the rules of monastic life;the other is Ormulum-a poem by a simple monk called Orm,addresed to his brother Walter.While the Ancrene Riwle contains a large number of French words,the Ormulum is almost entirely devoid of them.

The third period of French borrowings is from around 1400 onwords.The borrowings of the two periods tent to be more elegant and sophisticated but yet not too far away from the core and several became quite nativised (dance,April,native,fine,line,punish,finish). These later borrowings were more,distant from the core,with attention being explicitly called to their sophisticated,well-bred,cultivated,even arty’French’texture:notice the spellings and pronunciations of some of these items:ballet,tableau,statuesque,cliché,motif,format

trousseau,lingerie,soufflé,hors d’oeuvre,rouge,etiquette, etc.

By the 16th ,especially the 17th century England was establishing itself as a modern nation state,economically viable,self-confident,powerful.No longer needed French words-for special effects.

The words of this period are not from the Norman dialect of French,but from the Central or Parisian dialect.They were borrowed from French as a result of political and cultural relations between the two countries.In the second half of the 17th century France was the greatest power in Europe.The French language became fasionable in England and that caused the appearance of a lot of new French words in the English language.

Such words as fianc,unique,machine,marine,police, etc were borrowed at this period.A lot of the words borrowed by the English at this period are international,e.g .toilet, hotel, illuminated, elegant, extravagant , delicate,

miniature, critique ,symphony ,bourgeois, regime, bomb, etc.

Under the influence of the French revolution some political terms have entered the English language,e.g.royalism,despotism,tyranny,democrat,aristocrat,etc.Those words are also international.

Many classical borrowings came into Early NE through French due continous contacts with France,for the French language had adopted many loan-words from classical languages at the time of the Renaissance.Sometimes the immediate source of the loan-word cannot be determined.Thus,the words solid,position,consolation and many others,judging by their form,could be adopted either directly from Latin or from French,having entered the French language some time before:such borrowings are often referred to as “Franco-Latin”.They should not be confused with loan-words from OFr,which usually go back to Latin roots,for French is one one of the descendants of Latin;words borrowed from OFr differ from their Latin prototypes as they have been subjected to many changes in French.Some loan-words from OFr were re-shaped by crudités of the age of Renaissance according to their Latin prototypes though their forms were historically correct,since they were adopted from OFr.This Latinisation in the 15th -16th century produced words like describe in place of Chaucer’s decrive(n),equal instead of ega l,languag e instead of langage,debt,doubt and adventure instead of the earlier dette,doute,aventure .Some corrections even affected the pronunciation: language,adventure .

Adoption of classical words may have been facilitated by the large number of French loan-words in the English language of the 15th and 16th century.This is how O.Jespersen accounts for extensive borrowing of latin words:

“The great historical events,without which this influence would never have assumed such gigantic dimensions was the revival of learning.Through Italy and France the Renaissance came to be felt in England as early as the 14th century,and since then the invasion of classical terms has never stopped,although the multitude of new words introduced was greater,perhaps,in the 14th ,the 16th , the 19th ,than in the intervening centuries.The same influence is conspicuous in all European languages,but in English it has been strongerthan in any other language,French perhaps excepted.This fact cannot,I think,be principally due to any greater zeal for classical learning on the part of the English than of other nations.The reason seems rather to be that the natural power of resistance possessed by a Germanic tongue against these alien intruders had been already broken in the case of the English language by the wholesale importation of French words.They paved the way for the Latin words which resembled them in so many respects,and they had already created in English minds that predilection for foreign words which made them shrink from consciously coining new words out of native material.If French words were more distingues than English ones,Latin words were still more so,for did not the French themselves go to Latin to enrich their own vocabulary?”

The influx of French words continued and reached new peaks in the late 15th and in the late 17th century.French borrowings of the later periods mainly pertain to diplomatic relations,social life,art and fashions.French remained the international language of diplomacy for several hundred years;Paris led the fashion in dress,food and in social life and to a certain extent in art and literature;finally,the political events in France in the 18th -19th century were of world-wide significance.

All these external conditions are reflected in French loans.Examples of diplomatic terms are attaché,communiqué,dossier ;the words ball,beau,cortege,café,coquette,

hotel,picnic,restaurant refer to social life;ballet,ensemble,essay,genre, pertain to art;

military terms are brigade,corps,manoeuvre,marine,police,reconnaissance;fashions in dress and food are illustrated by words like blouse,chemise,corsage,cravat,menu

champagne, soup .Words of miscellaneous character are:comrade, detail, entrance ,


As seen from the lists,later French borrowings differ widely from the loan-words adopted in M.E.Most of them have not been completely assimilated and have retained a foreign appearance to the present day-note their spellings,the sounds and the position of the stress.Words like genre and restaurant have nasalized vowels and a French spelling:police,fatigue,marine receive the stress on the last syllable and are pronounced with long [i:] indicated by the letter i like French words;the diagraph ch stands for [ ʃ ] in machine,in beau the letters eau have also retained the sound value of the French prototype [o:].

Words were borrowed from French into English after 1650,mainly through French literature,but they were not as numerous and many of them are not completely assimilated.There are the following semantic groups of these borrowings:

a)words relating to literature and music: belles-lettres, conservatorie, brochure,


b)words relating to military affairs:corps,echelon,fuselage,manouvre;

c)words relating to building and furniture:entresol,chateau,bureau;

d)words relating to food and cooking:ragout,cuisine,etc.

Let’s summerise what happened in England after Conquest.For 200 years after the Conquest,the language of policy was French.And this was not a demarcation of ethnicity.Numerous English people(those of the upper classes)learned the language through marriage and by association. However, the language of the masses remain-

ed English.Until the beginning of the 13th century,French continued to dominate as the language of nobility.A very close connection existed between the continent and England…the nobility usually held land in both places;therefore,travel between the two was fairly common.

Further,William was no exception to this.In fact when William died,he left Normandy to his eldest son and England to his youngest son,William the Second.Later Normandy and England were under one ruler,but not until Henry the First.Under Henry the Second,English ”possessions” in France were even further broadened and enhanced.

When Henry the 2nd marries Eleanor of Aquitaine,he increased his holdings so that by the time he became King of England,he controlled about 2/3 of France.From William the Conqueror through Henry the 2nd ,most kings spent at least 2/3 of their time in France.And besides Henry I,no other English king married an Englishwoman until Edward the 4th in the 1460.The perpetuation of French was on.Too much time and too much money were invested in France for the nobility not to have,as a natural course of events,used French as the language.No evidence exists to suggest that English was a “hated”language.Most probably very little attention was paid to it because classes simply did not mix.Fusion of the French and English-over time,the two”cultures”assimilated and adjusted to one another. Some nobility spoke English. This would be a natural occurrence.Some clergy preserved English. Some of educated, the nobility, and

clergy,then representing the upper social strata,were bilingual.Knights learned French.Merchants spoke both French and English.Managers (sheriffs,bailiffs,etc.) on large estates were bilingual.For the most part,bilingualism extended only down to the middle class.Bilingual as used above does not indicate fluency.In 1204 King John “lost” Normandy.He fell in love with a French noblewoman-Isabel of Angouleme.He married her hastily without regard for her other suitor(to whom she was already engaged),Hugh of Lusignan.Hugh was the head of a very powerful and ambitious family,but John chose to ignore these connections and,in anticipation of retaliation for stealing Isabel,attacked Hugh’s family.Hugh appeals to the King of all France,Philip,and Philip took advantage of the situation to “embarrass”the duke of Normandy (and King of England),John.Since John was extremely irritating to Philip,it was with great delight that Philip summoned John to appear before him,answer charges,and submit to the judgement of the court.John maintained that,as King of England,he was exempt from subjugation and did not appear at his trial.Hence,Philip stripped John of his “dukedom” and invaded Normandy.Philip succeded,and Normandy returned solely to the French.John lost support:he was viewed as a scoundrel.There was even thought(with some basis) that he had his own cousin,prince Arthur,murdered.

With the loss of Normandy (some holdings were left in the south of France) many nobles had to decide where their allegiance lay…France or England. Philip,

and later louis,helped solve this problem: he confiscated the land of many nobles.Those who still had holdings in both places were forced to give up one or the other.There were some that were divided up by Philip,and in some instances,the nobles kept their larger landholdings in England and gave up the lesser in Normandy.

By 1250 the holdings had been divided or the choice made to hold land either in England or Normandy,and by 1250,there was no real reason for using French.During the breakup of holdings,an influx of French from south was also oc-

curing during the reign of Henry the 3rd : 1233 under Peter des Roches(a Frenchman made bishop of Winchester and later chancellor). 1236 when Henry married Eleanor of Provence,and he gave her many,many relative land and positions.

3.the last in 1246.

Henry the 3rd ’s reign was full of excesses and liberties.He freely gave to foreigners-land,etc,and encouraged their influx.The hostilities that insued were,in large part,due to Henry’s catering to the French.Resentment of the foreigners and of Henry was the attitude of the day.

Opposition to foreigners helped promote national feeling.Drove the barons and middle class together in a common cause.Ironically,one leader of the cause was Simon de Monfort-a Norman by birth.In line with these feelings,then,some knowledge of English would be regarded as desirable.

Though England was beginning to unite,this did not mean French was given up overnight.In fact,French was considered ”the” language of the continent.Even Germans and Italians spoke French.In the 13th century French continued to be spoken by the upper class in England,but not for different reasons.No longer the “mather” tongue,French was spoken as a matter of social custom and administrati-

ve convention.Because French use was fading and English use becoming prevalent,the impact of “borrowing” French vocabulary is major.When an English term was unknown and needed to be expressed,a French word or phrase was used.

One the whole English use was steady.By the middle of the 13th century,French is considered as a foreign language.Some attempt to preserve French existed in the clergy and from scholars,but not much.The French that had been spoken among “Englishmen”was considered by Francophiles to be a”backard” and butchered dialect.The 100 years’War-promoted national unity against the French to a very instense degree.Because the English came to”hate” the French,the French language was used less and less.

The rise of the middle class-with the outbreak of “The Black Death” in 1348,approximately 30% of the population died.This brought a shortage of labor;consequently,the economic importance of the working class grew.Since English was the language of the common laborer,its use become even more widespread.

By the beginning of the 14th century,English was once again the dominant language.Further,in 1362 Parliament enacted a law requiring all lawsuits to be conducted in English.English is,then,officially recognized.From here,the use of English filtered down to other branches of government and law.

Henry V’s reign from 1413-1422 marked a turning point in English as a written language.Henry used English in writing letters,and the practice diffused among the English people.French literature was not so easily replaced,though,by English literature.Most of the literature in Middle English comes in the form of religious.The diffusion of the hate language does extend eventually to literature.Chaucer(1340-1400),Langland(Piers Plowman),and the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight emerge,leading to the labeling of writing at the time as The Period of Great individual Writing(1350-1400).

The 15th century literature of England becomes known as the Imitative Period or Transition Period,the period of imitators of Chaucer and before Shakespeare.

French influence led to different kinds of changes in the vocabulary.Firstly,there were many innovations,i.e.names of new objects and concepts,which enlarged the vocabulary by adding new items.Secondly,there were numerous replacements of native words by French equivalents,which resulted in a shift in the ratio of Germanic and Romance roots in the language,e.g.the loan-words very,river,peace,

Easy displaced the native OE swiþe,ēa,friþ,ēaþe. The adoption of a word synonymous with a native word did not necessarily lead to replacement .Most frequently the co-existance of a borrowed and native synonym ended in their differentiation,they were both retained as they differed in style, dialect, shades of meaning or combinability.This third kind of influence enriched the English vocabulary even more than the adoption of pure innovations.The influx of French words-as well as the later borrowing of Latin words-is one of the main historical reasons for the abudance of synonyms in ModE.The difference between the native and borrowed words often lies in their stylistic connotations:French loan-words,particularly those which were adopted in Late ME(and later)preserve a more

bookish,literary character;hence such pairs of words as French commence native begin,conceal-hide,prevent-hinder,search-look for,odour-smell,desire-wish.

Since the French loan-words of the ME period were completely assimilated,it is not easy to identify a French borrowing and to distinguish it from native words or borrowings from other languages.Some French loan have retained their bookish character,but this stylistic connotation is even more typical of later borrowings from classical languages (cf. e.g.sorrow,sorry-native, grief-French, affliction-L).

Many French words are polysyllabic,but so are many native words and borrowings from other languages.More reliable criteria are French suffixes and prefixes frequently occurring in borrowed words:-ment,-ty,-ion,re-,de- and others;and yet,since they came to be employed as derivational means in English and yielded new specifically English words,they cannot serve as absolutely reliable marks of French words.In order to understand this sphere of borrowings from French one must bear in mind that the first loans were to be found in the upper classes who spoke Anglo-Norman.This fact led to French loans being automatically placed on a level above the normal everyday English vocabulary.Up to the present-day this characteristic of French words in English has remained.While it is true that some of the common French borrowings have become part of the basic stock of English vocabulary.(cf.air,age,cry,change,large,manner,mountain,place,point,village,voice) a large quantity of words has remained on a stylistically higher level alongside the lower English terms.

Every language is in a state of flux and subject to variation and change in phonology,morphology,and syntax.The vocabulary was assimilated.With the advent of new vocabulary,some loss of the old will occur.Two things may occur:1)the old word becomes obsolete and disappears although or 2)the old word becomes archaic and is used by older speakers,but may drop out completely later.These are not mutually exclusive process.

The influence of the French language on the English vocabulary was extremely great,and though the English language remained Teutonic,more than a half of its words are of French origin.


The French Influence on Middle English Phonology.

Assimilation of French words by the speakers of English was a more difficult process than assimilation of Scandinavian words.The French language belonged to a different linguistic group and had very little in common with English.The Norman Conquerors of England had originally come from Scandinavia.About one hundred and fifty years before they scized the valley of the Scine and settled in what was henceworth known as Normandy.They were swiftly assimilated by the French and in the 11th century came to Britain as French speakers and bearers of French culture.They spoke the Northern dialect if French,which differed in some points from Central,Parisian French.Their tongue in Britain is often referred to as “Anglo-Norman”,but may just as well be called French,since we are less concern-

ed here with the distinction of French dialects than with continuous French influence upon English,both in Norman period of history and a long while after the Anglo-Norman language had ceased to exist.

The Conquest of England by the Normans was the third invasion of this island by a Teutonic race from countries across the German Sea;for the Normans were closely related both to the Anglo-Saxons and to their Danish Conquerors,and originally they spoke a language allied to the Anglo-Saxon.But they had travelled far,and acquired much,since they had left their remote Scandinavian birthplace.For 150 years before they came to England they had been settled in Normandy,where they had lost almost all memory of their original speech,and adopted a new religion,a new system of law and society,new thoughts and a new manners.They therefore came practically as Frenchmen to their English and Danish cousins;and it was the speech of French,the civilization of France that they had brought with them.But the speech of France was a very different language from Modern French as we know it;indeed there was not,at this time,any recognized and classical French,but only a number of dialects;among which that of Normandy was the one which was first introduced into England.These French dialects were descended from the popular and collequal Latin once common in most of the Roman Provinces,but which underwent divers changes in various regions-changes which have produced the various related forms of speech-French,Italian,Spanish,etc-which are united under the common name of Romance languages.These Latin words suffered many transformations in becoming French;many of the consonant and vowels were so unchanged,and the words were so shortened and clipped by the omission of unaccented syllables,that their connexion with their Latin ancestors is often not very apparent.As later in the history of England many of these words came into the language in forms more nearly approaching their Latin originals,we can see by comparing them with those adopted from the French,after they had undergone the process of phonetic decay, how greatly they had been changed in that process.Thus compute and count both descended from the Latin computare,secure and sure,blaspheme and blame,dominion and dungeon,dignity and dainty,codence and chance are others among these”doublets”,as they are called,in which the longer form of the word in each case is more directly from the Latin,while the shorter has suffered a French transformation.

When in the year 1204 Normandy was lost in the English Crown,and the English Normans were separated from their relatives on the Continent,their French speech began to change,as all forms of speech must change,and developed into a dialect of its own,with some peculiar forms,and many words borrowed from English.This was at first the language of the court and low in England;it was taught in the schools and written in legal enactments and continued to be used by lawyers for more than 300 years.Indeed,in the form of what is called “Low French”it continued in use down to quite recent times.An attempt was indeed made in the fourteenth century to replace French by English in the law courts,but the lawyers went on thinking and writing in French and developed little by little a queer jargon of their own,which they used down to the end of the seventeenth century.From this dialect or technical law-jargon many words were adopted in English,not only strictly legal terms like jury,larceny,lease,perjury,etc.but others which have gained a more popular use-as assets, embezzle, disclaim,distress, hue and cry, hotchpotch,

improve.One of the most curious of these is the word culprit,which is a contraction of the legal phrase “culpable,prest,meaning’(he is)’guilty (and we are) ready (to prove it).

It was,then,from the Anglo-or Norman French that the earliest of English French words were derived,and the greater part of those borrowed before 1350 were probably from this source.In the meantime,however,the Central or Parisian French dialect,having become the language of the French Court and of French literature,began to be fashionable in England,and many words were adopted from it into English.It is by no means always easy to distinguish between the sources of French words,whether they came to English from Anglo-or Parisian French.In many cases the forms are the same,but as a rule the early and popular words may be put down to Anglo-French,and the later adoptions and learned words to borrowings from the literary language of Paris.

Anglo-Norman words must have been very hard to pronounce as they contained many sounds which did not exist in English,such as nasalized vowels,the sound [y] and soft palatalized consonants.Word accentuation in OFr was foreign to English,a language of the Germanic group:in French the main stress fell on the ultimate or penultimate syllable of the word.Nevertheless,phonetic assimilation of borrowed words progressed quickly.The foreign features were lost and the words were adapted to the norms of English pronunciation.French sounds were replaced by resembling English sounds.Thus,French [y] was reflected in English as [u] or [ju],e.g.OFr juge,ME juge,NE juge,OFr vertu,ME vertu,NE virtue.Palatalised [l’] and [n’] were shown as ordinary [l] and [n] or sequences [i] in, cf. e.g., OFr faillir,which contained [l’],and ME failen,NE fail;OFr-compagnie-ME companye,NE company.The nasalized vowels lost their nasal character;e.g.OFr chambre,ME chaumbre,NE chamber,OFr changier,ME chaungen,changen [a:],NE change.

It is customary to divide the time in which English was in contact with French into two periods, 1) Anglo-Norman and 2) Central French. The first period lasted from the invasion of 1066 to the loss of Normandy to England under King John in 1204. After this there is little or no direct influence of French on English but the language remained fashionable and the practice of borrowing words from the continental language continued well into the 15th century. The Central French period (during which influence from the region around Paris dominated) can be taken to cease gradually with the introduction of printing at the end of the 15th century and the general resurgence in interest and status of English.

The region known as Isle de France (Paris and its surroundings). The label Central French refers to late medieval speech there.

Some few words pre-date the Norman conquest such as prud ‘proud’ and tur ‘tower’. The greatest influence set in the mid 13th century. The number of borrowings runs into thousands. These are to be found in certain spheres of life like politics and administration, cuisine, the judiciary, etc.

The difference between Anglo-Norman and Central French loans in English is to be seen in famous pairs of words like catch and chase, both of which go back originally to Latin captiare, which itself furnished English with the later loan ‘capture’.

How can we distinguish among early loans and later ones? Not a fail-safe method, but perhaps useful—difference in the shape of words as a result of dialectal differences between Norman and Central French:

1. initial affricate consonants, as in chant and judge changed in 13th c. French to fricative sounds, as in Modern French chant, judge. This means we can divide early and later borrowings accordingly:

. early: charge, change, chamber, chase, chair, chimney, just, jewel, journey, majesty, gentle

· later: chamois, chiffon, chevron, jabot, rouge, etc.

2. Norman-French had the hard stop [k] sound in ca- while Central French had cha-, chie. English borrowed from Norman: carry, carriage, case [box], cauldron, carrion, etc. English occasionally took over the same word in its Norman and central French shape, e.g. Norman catel >> E. cattle = Central Fr. Chattel >> E, chattel(s). E. catch = N. cachier; E. chase = N. cachier; E. chase = Central Fr. Chacier [Mod. Fr. Chaser]

N. calange [1225] Fr. Challenge [1300]

N. canchelers [1066] Fr. Chanceleres [1300]

3.Norman dialects of French favored initial and medial w- instead of Central French g so we have pairs of loans, clearly dating from earlier (Norman) and later (Central Fr.)

N. wile [1154] Fr. guile [1225]

N. warrant [1225] Fr. guarantee [1624]

N. reward [1315] Fr. regard [1430]

The form of many French loan-words can be used to date borrowing.As mentioned above there are two strands of French influence,an early Anglo-Norman one and a later Central French one.

After 1250 the influence of Central French was predominant in England.In this variety of French the original [k] retained in Norman French was shifted to[tʃ] which is reflected in the writing where “c” was changed to “ch”.Thus,we have the Central French verb “chacier” being borrowed into Middle Engish as “chacen,MnE

“chase”.Note that the later borrowing did not replace the earlier one in keeping with the principle that if two variant forms come to be distinguished semantically their continuing existence in the language is as good as guaranteed.Not so with a number of other Norman French borrowings which were replaced by the later Central French [tʃ] but words like “chef”and “champagne”with [ʃ] are of a later origin.

Similar differences in pronunciation can be used to date other loan-words from French.For example,the relationship of [dʒ] and [ʒ] shows the relative chronology of borrowing. The older loans such as “ siege, judge, age ” show the affricate [dʒ]

whereas newer loans from the Early Modern English period have the simple

fricative typical of Modern French as in rouge[ru:ʒ];with the word “garage” there still exist two alternative pronunciations[ˡgærɪdʒ/ and /gəˡrɑ:ʒ].

One can also recognise later borrowings by the vowel quality when the stress is found on the final syllable: memoir (cf. the earlier loan memory), liqueur (cf. the earlier form liquor).

Difference between French dialects is also manifested in the treatment of the groups [ca] and [ga].In the Northern dialects these groups remained unchanged,as in camber<VL cameram ”chamber”,cachier<VL captiare ”chase”,gardin Germanic “gardin” “garden”In Parisian French [ca] became [tʃa](spelt cha),while[ga]became

[dʒa](spelt ja):chambre,chaser,jardin.Northern dialects usually have[tʃ] (spelt ch) for Southern [tʃ] as in:cachier<VL captiare ”chase”,lanchier<VL lanciare“launch”.

An essential difference between Anglo-Norman and Parisian French concerned the diphthong [eı],which had developed from Vulgar Latin closed [ē] in an open syllable and from e+i,as in lei<VL legem ”law”,preire<VL praeda “prey”, veile <

VL”veil”,streit<VL strectum”narrow”,leisir<VL lecere”leisure”.

In Anglo-Norman the diphthong [eı] remained unchanged,where as in Parisian French it developed into [oı] and later through [oe] into [wa](compare Modern French loi,proie,voile,étroit,loisir,all pronounced with[wa]).

The Old French diphthong [oı],as we saw,developed into [wa] in Modern French,while it remained [oı] in English, as in the words ”point, loyal”.In these cases,then English has preserved the old French sounds,which underwent basic changes in French itself.VL long closed [ō] in an open syllable appears as[u] in Anglo-Norman,as in:”flur<VL florēm “flower”,hure<VL hōram”hour”,honur<VL honōrem “honour”,colour<VL colōrem “colour”, labur<VL labōrem ”labour”.

In Parisian French this vowel was diphthongized and eventually developed into[ö](spelt eu),cf.Modern French “fleur,heure,honneur,couleur,labeur”.

VL closed [o] before n+consonant appears in Anglo-Norman as [u] in:munt<Vl montem”mountain”,frunt <VL frontem”forehead”,round<VL rotondum “round”.

French nasal [a] before “n+consonant”,especially before “n+dental consonant”, appears in Anglo-Norman as “au”:chaunce,daunce,comaunder,braunche.These variants penetrated into English,but,from the 14th century onward,Parisian variants with “a” also appear,more especially before [ndʒ], [ntʃ], [mb]: strange, branche,


In Norman French , the combination of “ui” was accented on the first vowel,

leaving simple u [y] after the i was lost.In Middle English,this [y] became [u] or [ui],hence English “fruit”.

In Central French,the accent was shifted from from ”ui” to “iu”,giving in Modern French,the pronunciation we find in “oui”.

The difference between Anglo-Norman and Parisian French was clearly realized as can be seen from three well-known lines from Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”.In describing the Prioress,the author says:

And French she spak ful faire and fetisly,

After the scole of Stratford ate Bave,

For French of Paris was to hir unknave.

“And French she spoke very nicely and elegantly,according to the school of Stratford-at-the-Bow(a suburb of London),for French of Paris was unknown to her”.

For a comparatively brief period in the 12th and 13th centuries there arose in England a rich literature in the Anglo-Norman language.It was at this time that the great poem Brut by Wace appeared,which told the history of the early kings of Britain,also a poem on Tristian and Iseult and a number of other literary works.In the 14th century Anglo-Norman literature began to decline;however,even towards the end of the century the poet John Gower(1325-1408),who composed poetry in three languages,wrote alongside of his Latin poem Vox Clamantis(The Voice of the Caller),in which he described the rising of Wat Tyler in 1381,and his English poem Confession Amantis (the Lover’s Confession),a French (that is,Anglo-Norman) poem entitled Speculum Medantis(The Meditator’s Mirror) or Mirrair de L’homme(The Man’s Mirror).It would sometimes happen that a word was borrowed from Parisian French which already existed in English in its Anglo-Norman variant.The Parisian variant would often supersede the Anglo-Norman.

Thus,in Chaucer we find the word ”viage” from Anglo-Norman “veiage”;this was eventually superseded by the Parisian “voyage”.In ME we find the word “carite” “charity”,from Lat.caritatem,which was eventually superseded by Parisian charité. In a few cases both variants survived,as in “catch” and “chase”,both from Latin “captiare”,but difference of meaning has developed between them.Most French words adopted by the English language came from Anglo-Norman,and its phonetic peculiarities are reflected in the borrowed words.

In the 14th century English also took over some words from the Parisian (Francian) dialect.It is quite easy to distinguish ME Fr. loans from EModE, and all loans afterwards, due to the spelling and pronunciation of the latter loans. A quick glance at the lists above reveals that the Fr. loans did not depart greatly from their sources. In other words, the loans from EModE and afterwards have not become anglicized like the ME ones.In most cases, they are spelt the same as the source or something close to it.Consequently, the letters –é(e), â, and ï enter the language’s orthography.

However, as Henry Alexander rightly points out they do not belong to the English spelling system; therefore, they should be disposed of. We do see this happening in words like cafe and melee, which are commonly written without accents. The rule of thumb seems to be that the more popular the loan becomes the more anglicized its appearance.

The pronunciation also remains as close to the original as allowed by the English phonological system.Thus the ch in champagne is pronounced [ʃ] instead of [tʃ] as in Fr. words taken over in the ME period, e.g. change and chamber. Similarly ge in rouge is pronounced [ʒ] instead of [dʒ] as in edge. ME loans were affected by the Great Vowel Shift, thus we have the diphthong /ai/ in words like nice and vine but a long monophthongal /i:/ in the EModE nouns machine and police. Another typical distinguishing characteristic is the retention of stress on the second syllable, especially in words that end in –et(te), -esque, -oon, ade, e.g. cadet, coquette, picturesque, grotesque, buffoon, promenade, and parade.Prof. Alexander duly points out that the deliberate attempt to pronounce these French loans has resulted in something that is neither French nor English He correctly claims that it would be better and more in accordance with the tradition of our language to make garage one hundred per cent English and let it rime with carriage, and to stop trying to pronounce two nasal vowels in ensemble, because even if one is successful, which most are not, it is an undesirable disturbance to the normal English speech habits. He suggests that en should be pronounced as in hen and the em as in them, as we do in resemble and assemble.The usual pronunciation onsomble is neither English nor French.

The degree of phonetic assimilation of foreign words is further attested by their participation in the sound changed of English.ME borrowings from French underwent the same Early NE phonetic changes as native words,and as words borrowed in preceding period,e.g.long accented vowels were subjected to the Great Vowel Shift,final unstressed vowels were reduced and dropped,e.g.ME robe[′ro:bə]>NE robe;ME changen [tʃa:ndʒən]>NE change.

3.1 Stress in French loan-words.

The stress in French loan-words was shifted in conformity with the English rules of word accentuation,due to the rhythmic or recessive tendency.In Old French stress fell on the last syllable of a word,except words ending in –e,which are stressed on the last but one syllable,as ′terre “earth”.In English stress is shifted to the last but two syllable,which,accordingly,is the first of three-syllable words and the second of four-syllable ones.This shift did not take place at once.It appears that a secondary stress developed on the first(or second) syllable while the main stress remained on the last.Eventually the secondary stress became the main one,while the main was reduced to the state of secondary;finally the stress on the last syllable disappeared altogether.Rhythm and rhymes in poetical works,notably in Chaucer’s,give valuable information on this point.

If the first syllable happened to be a verbal prefix,it remained unstressed;a nominal prefix would receive the stress.For example;ho′nour “honour”,co′rage “courage”,nature “nature”,pre′sent(v),present(n).

In the course of time the borrowed forms from French changed their stress from a final stress (which later developed into an equal stress for all syllables in Modern French) to the more common initial stress typical of all Germanic words in English. Thus words like punish, manner which had original stress on the second syllable came to be stressed on the first syllable and retained this into Modern English. Note that initial stress in English refers to the first syllable of a word stem. This has meant that words like conversion, depletion which are French loans with original final stress came to be pronounced with stress on the second syllable as this was regarded as the stem syllable. With disyllabic words the stress may thus remain on the final syllable for the reason just outlined, cf. revert, review, conduct, precede. Later on an independent development in English is to be noted whereby verbs and nouns of French origin are distinguished when they are segmentally similar by virtue of different stress. Here initial stress is characteristic of nouns while final stress is used for verbs, cf. convert, convert; conduct, conduct . The principle outlined here are not watertight, however, that is one finds initial stress on apparent prefixes in words like precedence and no difference in stress between disyllabic nouns and verbs in pairs like review, review; address, address.

3.2.The French Influence on Middle English Spelling.

English spelling was,to say the least,quite imperfect before the Normans arrived.Their spelling,however,plus the real French spelling,which was sometimes different, helped greatly to increase this imperfection.If pressed, I could understand the reasoning behind new English words borrowed from the French being spelled like the French would spell them.I can even accept new words created by the French in England being spelled the French way.

We must say a few words on the question how far the rapid simplification of the declension and conjugation in the twelfth and succeeding centuries was an effect of the Norman conquest. The view once universally held, and still entertained by many persons, that the establishment of Norman rule was the main cause by which this change was brought about, is now abandoned by all scholars. We have seen that, in the north of England, the movement towards a simpler grammatical system had made no small progress a hundred years before duke William landed; and the causes to which this movement was due were such as could not fail to be increasingly effective. The intimate mixture of Danish and native populations in the north and over a great part of the midlands must, no doubt, have had a powerful influence in reinforcing the tendencies to change that already existed. So far as these districts are concerned, it is not too much to say that the history of English grammar would have been very nearly what it actually was if the Conquest had never taken place. It is peculiarly worthy of note that the southern dialect, which we would expect to be most affected by the French influence, and which, with regard to vocabulary, certainly was so, was, of all dialects of Middle English, the most conservative in its grammar.And there is good reason to believe that, even in the south, the spoken language had travelled a considerable distance towards the Middle English stage before the fateful date A.D. 1066.Only twenty years after the Conquest, the Norman scribes of Domesday Book, writing phonetically and without influence from English tradition, spell local and personal names in a way which shows that the oral language had undergone certain changes that do not regularly manifest themselves in native writings until much later. And some of the charters of the time of Edward the Confessor, which exhibit modernisms that are commonly attributed to the scribes of the late MSS. in which they are preserved, are, probably, less altered from their original form than is generally imagined.

This presentation takes off from the point of view that very little has been attempted to localise the origin or provenance of medieval French texts ascertained to have been produced in England, on account of the fact that such linguistic material has been essentially characterised as 'insular', or as 'having distinctive features of Western continental dialects'.It would seem,however, that the situatedness of the French of England could beenvisioned with slightly more precision.The manuscript context has long revealed that a substantial portion of such material occurs in close association with texts in English.With a lot of necessary caution, the need for a correlated approach to French and English is therefore argued, on the inspiring basis of the conditions under which Middle English dialectology has been developing recently. The results of Middle English dialectal studies encourage the emergence of a 'correlated dialectology' of insular languages,and we shall attempt to make out and discuss some of the main operative categories of 'profiling' for insular French texts, in terms of scribal features and what they reveal about the 'forme of speche' (as Chaucer has it) of the French language. My view is essentially that of a young scholar working principally on aspects of book production and manuscript circulation in England between the later 13th and later 15th centuries; however, in line with the proposed focus on language issues for this workshop, a linguistic approach will be privileged, in connection with French and English manuscript data observable in some multilingual 14th-century manuscripts. Anglo-Norman had on Standard English spelling - not a subject that linguists usually find terribly interesting (spelling, that is, not Anglo-Norman!). Not only has much Anglo-Norman and Medieval Latin wordstock ended up as Standard English, but a multiplicity of spellings-per-phoneme have become codified.The mixed-language business text-type was a source of many of the spelling variants that entered the late Middle English pool, due its dependence on mixing Anglo-Norman, Medieval Latin and English writing conventions, as well as its non-ephemeral function. This may sound uncontroversial enough, but detailing the mechanism by which it happened is a challenge.

Let’s briefly outline the text-type of medieval mixed-language business writing in London, and to look at spellings for some common words. The process of elimination of variants preceded that of selection of a single variant (be it orthographical, lexical or morphological) into the Standard - this sounds obvious, but again, the mechanism is not particularly well understood. In fact, what often happened for a given spelling is that variants were discarded in the late fifteenth century, but the single remaining variant was not the one that subsequently became incorporated into Standard written English. Thus,the two processes, elimination and selection, were separate.

Anglo-Norman hugely influenced the development of Standard English in lexis and in orthography.Bridges are and were complex constructions, not least because by definition they were either in or adjacent to water, and because structural failure had spectacular and disastrous consequences. The proximity of water virtually guaranteed a constant maintenance problem.At the same time, bridges were political, military, commercial and economic assets, since they could be used for defensive purposes as well as for the collection of tolls and rents. They are thus relatively well documented.On the one hand are various "high level" documents where(for example) the burgesses of towns or local magnates solicit royal assistance or royal permission to levy tolls and so forth.These, typically, are monolingual. But those documents regarding more immediate, practical matters like construction and repairs are routinely multilingual,both in England and elsewhere in those numerous regions of medieval Europe where more than one language was in use.Precise technical instructions needed to be given to local, probably monolingual workmen, but often on the authority of their social superiors who were themselves doubtless either polyglot, or monolingual but in a different and more prestigious language.

During several centuries after the Norman Conquest the business of writing was in hands of French scribes.They introduced into English some peculiarities of French graphic habits.Traces of French traditions in writing have stayed on in English to the present day.First of all we must note some changes in the alphabet.

Several letters typical of OE gradually came out of use,and some new ones were introduced.The alphabet of the 14th century is basically the same that is in use in our days.

The letter ʒ,which was used in OE to denote several distinct consonant phonemes

is gradually replaced by the letters “g” and “y”.Thus,OE ʒōd now appears as gōd,and the OE ʒēar as yēr.

The ligature “æ” also comes into disuse in ME. This change accompanies the phonetic change of short “æ” into “a“(and in some dialects into e ) and that of long æ into ē.The new letters introduced during the ME period are all consonantal.The letter “g” (as hinted above) is introduced to denote the sound [g] as in “god” also the sound [dʒ] as in “singe”.

The sound [dʒ] is also denoted (in words of French origin) by the letter “j”,as in joy,judge,June.The letter “v” is introduced to denote the consonant [v],which in ME became a separate phoneme.However,this letter soon came to be treated as an allograph of the letter”u”,which had been in use since the earliest OE times.The allograph“u” and “v” became interchangeable.Thus,we can find the following spel-

lings in ME MSS;over;ouer;use;vse;love;loue,etc.

The letter “q”, always accompanied by “u”, is introduced to denote either the consonant [k],as in quay ,or the cluster [kw],as in quarter or queen. In the latter case it replaces OE cw .

The letter “z” is introduced to denote the consonant [z],which in ME became a separate phoneme.However,the letter “z” is not used systematically.It does appear in such words as zēl “zeal”,Zephyrus,”Zephir”,but the sound [z] is still spelt “s”in

chēsen,”choose”, “lōsen” “lose” and in many others.

Next we come to changes in spelling habits.

In the sphere of vowels French influence made itself felt in the following point:

1.The sound [u:],which was represented by the letter “u”in Old English,came to be spelt “ou”,the way it was spelt in French.This French spelling was due to the fact that in Old French the diphthong [ou] had changed into [u:] but the spelling had remained the same.From borrowed French words such as “trouble,couch”;this spelling was transferred to native English words:hous(OE hūs);out(OE ūt);loud(OE hlūd),etc.In final position,and occasionally in medial position as wll,instead of “ou” the spelling “ow” was introduced:cow (OE cū); how (OE hū);

down(OE dūn),etc.

2.The vowel [u] is often represented by the letter “o”.In many modern grammars this “o” is accompanied by a tack:ŏ.This spelling is probably partly due to graphic considerations.The letter “o” denoting [u] is found mainly in the neighbourhood of such letters as “u”(v),n,m,that is,letters consisting of vertical strokes.A long series of vertical strokes might be confusing: thus,it might be hard to distinguish between cume,cmue,cimie, etc.Replacing “u”by “o” would avoid this difficulty.

Another factor favouring the introduction of the letter “o” to denote [u] might be the narrow quality of Anglo-Norman [o], which was close to [u]. Examples: come

[′kumə](OE cuman),som [sum](OE sum),sone [′sunə] (OE sunu),love [′luvə] (OE lufu),bigonne [bi′gunə] (OE onʒunnen-second participle of the verb onʒinnan).

3.The vowel [e:] is sometimes denoted by the diagraph “ie”.In Old French this diagraph had originally denoted the diphthong [ie],which in Anlo-Norman changed into [e] in the 12th century,the spelling remaining the same.

From French loan words like chief [tʃe:f],relief [re′le:f] this spelling penetrated into native English words like “field [fe:ld] (OE feld),thief [Өe:f], relief [re′le:f]

This spelling penetrated into native English words like “field [fe:ld](OE feld),thief [Өe:f] (OE þeof),life [le:f](lēaf).

4.To denote the vowel [ü] in the dialects where it was preserved the letter “u” was used ,as in fur “fire”(OE fўr).

In the sphere of consonants French spelling also had some influence.

1.The spellings þ and ð for the sounds [Ө] and [ð] were gradually superseded by the diagraph “th”:this for OE þis,three for OE þrēo.

2.For the consonant [v],which had been a mere positional variant of the [f] phoneme in OE and which in ME became a separate phoneme,the letter “v” was introduced.As “v” was considered to be merely an allograph of “u”,both allographs could be used indiscriminately: over,ouer (OE ofer), love,loue (OE lufu): in French words:very,avengen.

3. The affricate [tʃ] was denoted by the diagraph “ch”: from such French loan -

words as “chair,chambre” it penetrated into native English words: techen “teach”, “child”,etc.The corresponding voiced affricate [dʒ] was spelt in the French way either j,g or dg:joy,courage,bridge.

4.The consonant [ʃ] was spelt “sh” and sometimes “sch”:ship,schip,shal,schal.

5.The consonant [χ] was first spelt ʒ,and later “gh”:liʒt,light, niʒt,night, riʒt,right,


6.The letter “c” when denoting the consonant [k] was replaced by the letter “k” before e,i and also before n:drinken (OE drincan),king (OE cyninʒ),knōwen (OE cnāwan).This was due to the fact that the letter “c” before “e” or “I” would suggest the pronunciation [s].It should be noted that the letter was widely used in OE,for example in pronoun “ki” “who” (Modern French spelling qui ).

7.The cluster [kw] was spelt “qu” instead of Old English “cw”,as in quellen “kill (OE cwellan),quethen “say” (OE cweþan).

8.The consonant [j],which in Old English was spelt ʒ,now came to be spelt ‘y’:yēr,

year(OE ʒēar),yet (OE ʒiet),ye “you”(OE ʒē).

Besides these features,due to French influence,ME spelling has some more peculiarities,which have partly been preserved down to the present day.

It became a habit in ME to replace final –I by –y.The motive was purely graphic, “y” being more ornamental than “i”,and eventually this became one of the most characteristic features of English spelling.In MnE there are only a few words ending in –i :rabbi,taxi ,and a few plural forms of Latin words,such as bacilli and genii. The letter “y” was also often used instead of “i” in medium position:ryden (OE rīdan),wryten (OE wrītan).This habit did not survive.

Similarly,the letter “u” when final was replaced by “w”,which was more ornamental.Again words ending in –u in MnE are very few:you,thou,gnu,emu.

The use of “ou” and “ow” to denote long [u:] resulted in ambiguity,which is still felt in English spelling. The diagraph “ow” could also denote the diagraph [ou].When it came to be used for [u:],the result was two series of words:one with [ou],slow,snow,crow,low ,the other with [u:]:cow,now,down .

On the whole ME spelling is far from uniform.Purely phonetic spellings mix with French spelling habits and also with traditions inherited from OE. Besides,

There are differences between dialects in this respect, too French scribal practice is behind the spelling -ough which in Middle English indicated the pronunciation

/-u:x/ or /-oux/. Because of later phonetic developments this spelling came to be one of the most notorious cases of incongruence between pronunciation and orthography in Modern English as it can represent at least seven different sound sequences as seen from the following random set: plough /-au/, cough /-ɒf/, although /-əʊ/, hiccough /-ʌp/,thorough /-ə/ (unstressed), through /-u:/, rough /-ʌf/.

Another feature of French spelling which affected Old English words was the use of final -e. This was added to English words to show that the vowel of the previous syllable was long, as in ice (from OE is).This ‘discontinuous sequence’ is used very much in Modern English to keep original short and long vowels apart graphically, e.g. pan and pane, ban and bane.

To add to this chaos, the spelling in most regions, in this and the next period, took on a distinct French flavor.What this means is that an immense number of words or parts of words were spelled like the French would spell them in their language. These are the same French who didn't even sound their words the way we would sound them if they were ours.In fact,it's the same French who sometimes didn't even sound their words at all.They just shrugged their shoulders or waved their hands and that was considered to be a whole sentence.With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that many of the words or parts of words that the French gave us were riddled with silent letters. Obviously, these were the bits that were supposed to be mimed.


The French Influence on Middle English Grammar.

Grammatical assimilation of borrowed words evidently did not give much trouble to the speakers.They freely added English grammatical endings to the stems of the borrowed words and used them in all grammatical forms like native words:e.g.countable nouns took the universal ending (-e)s in the plural,all the verbs (except strive ) became weak and took the suffix –d- to form the Past and Part II.

A most important aspect of assimilation was the participation of borrowed words and their components in word formation.As early as ME some French roots came to be combined with English affixes and other roots,e.g.Late ME verrai–ly,un-fruit

ful,gentil-man,gentil-woman(NE very,unfruitful,gentleman,gentlewoman).These

words are hybrids as their component parts come from different languages.French derivational affixes began to be used in word-building some time later.

Quite a few changes in grammar are to be noted with the borrowing from French into Middle English.On the one hand there are cases where not the infinitive is the model for the loan into English but plural present form of the verb (sometimes unexpectedly).Thus,we have words like resolve which comes from the plural resolvens and not from the resoudre (in which the /u/ indicates that the former /l/ had already vocalized in French).The infinitive which usually forms the point of departure may be borrowed in its entirety.(i.e.with the infinitive ending) in words like “render ”from French “render” . In other cases the borrowed infinitive with its

ending became a noun,cf.diner which turned into dinner,the corresponding verb being dine.A further case is user which became user (noun) with the verb use. In

some cases there may be no verb as a result of the change in word which turned into supper,the verbal paraphrase being “to have supper”.

Evidence for the strong influence of French on Middle English is nowhere as forthcoming as in the area of hybridisation by which is meant that a word consists of two elements, one of Germanic and the other of Romance origin.Let’s consider the following:

(1) The formation of verbal nouns from a French stem and the Germanic ending {ing}: preaching, serving.

(2) The formation of nouns by the addition of Germanic suffixes: {ness}: faintness, secretiveness; {dom}: martyrdom; {ship}: companionship, relationship.

(3) The addition of the ending {ly} (< OE -lich) to French loanwords: {ly}: courtly, princely. The same applies to the following endings {ful}: beautiful, powerful; {less}: colourless, pitiless, noiseless.

The reverse can also be the case, i.e. the ending of a word is French in origin and the stem is Germanic. Consider the following:

(1) The formation of nouns by the addition of suffixes: {age}: mileage, shortage, leakage; {ment}: endearment, enlightenment, bewilderment.

(2) The formation of adjectives by the use of endings: {able}: likeable, loveable, proveable, drinkable, bearable.

In the case of the last examples one can see that many of the French suffixes became productive in English. Indeed the productivity can exceed that of the donor language. This can be seen in the case of the word mutiner ‘to mutiny’ which in English has lead to no less than six forms:mutine, mutinous, mutinously , mutinousness, mutiny, mutineer. The number of word forms may also have developed differently in the course of time, thus English has entry , entrance while Modern French only has entreé, and of course English has the latter as a recent loan meaning‘something small before starting a full meal’ .The height of productivity is reached, however, by the French adjective veri which originally meant ‘true, real, genuine’ (as is seen nowadays in expressions like You're the very man I'm looking for ) and which came to be used in Late Middle English as an intensifying adverb and which has retained and expanded this function since. Originally the English adverb full was used as an intensifier and is still found in fixed phrases like You know full well.

4.1 French derivational Affixes in English.

Alongside words,English also adopted some French derivational affixes (both suffixes and prefixes).This was the way it happened.If English had adopted a certain number of words containing the same affix,the affix could now be used to derive new words from French (and occasionally Scandinavian) stems.

A few examples of French derivational affixes used in English to derive new words are already found in ME:husbandry,goddess.However,a wider spread of the procedure is a fact of the MnE period.


A number of French substantives were derived by means of the suffix “ance,ence; “ignorance, arrogance, entrance, repentance, innocence, excellence,

dependence,etc”.The meaning of the suffix became clear to English speakers,and this made possible derivation of new substantives from native English stems,such as hindrance from the stem of the native English verb “hinder”.

Both Dalton-Puffer and Miller propose that French derivational suffixes became productive in Late Middle English.

-esse - is employed to form feminine nouns from other nouns. The suffix appears

in fairly large number of loans dating from 1160 onwards.The first attested borrowings are “countesse” the wife of a count or an earl is emperice “the consort of an empera” from the Peterborough Chronicle.Later loans are,e.g,clergesse “a learned woman”,grateresse “a female grater”.

According to Jespersen and Marchand –esse was a profilic formative occurring on English bases in the 14th century,or even the latter part of this century,judging by the examples they quote.The suffux did appear,however,in hybrids already in the early 13th century and in a variety of instances in the late 13th and the first half of the 14th century MED records it in “bolleresse” a woman who makes bowls; disheresse “a woman who makes or sells dishes” ; clerkesse “a learned woman”,

breuresse “a female brewer”and shepherdesse “a female keeper of sheep;also “the

wife of a shepherd,gloveresse “a female glove maker;prioresse “prioress and maistresse,governess”.

-age –is employed to form nouns denoting state or rank from other nouns or to convert verbs into nouns of various meaning.The French loan-words with-age are also numerous and started to appear at the beginning of the ME period.The first borrowing according to MED is pilgrimage “a pilgrimage originally found in Kentish Serionons (1275) and later in the South English Legendary(1300),Guy of Warwick (1300).Early borrowings with date of their first occurance are “hermitage” “a hermitage” (The place-names of the East Riding of Yorkshire and York 1280) pelrinage “ a pilgrimage”,servage “servitudes, bondage, slavery

and taillage “a royal land tax,barnage “the nobility and passage” the act of crossing or passing from one place to another.

-erie -is a suffix forming nouns which denote professions or crafts,as well as the collectivity of their members or products or “quality of behavior”,sometimes also rank or conditions.The suffix may be added to nouns,verbs and adjectives.

The French loan-words containing the suffix are abundant and the first is “druerie”

love between God and man or affection.Other examples: daierie “a pantry”,reverie “robbery,portmanrie “the rank of portman or free citizen.

-ment had penetrated into English as part of such substantives as “government”, “treatment”, “agreement” and was used to derive new substantives from native stems fulfillment, bereavement, amazement, bewilderment,etc.The suffix forms

mostly nouns of action,result,state or condition from verbs.The first loan-words from French were found in Ancrene Wisse,e.g,amendement “improvement or chastisement”,admonition,judgement “discernment”,amonestement “temptation” and commencement“beginning”,corounement“the reign of a sovereign”,enchaunte-

ment “magic power and amendement”,improvement;comberment “trouble,distress,

etc.According to Jespersen the ending –ment did not come to be considered as an E formation till the latter part of the 13th century.Dalton-Puffer claims that the suffix

-ment is unusual in the sense that it shows an abrupt growth in productivity already in the subperiod of ME from 1250 to 1350.

A number of French substantives contained the diminutive suffix –et ,such as coronet “small crown”,cabinet.In some words the final consonant of the stem was

-l ,as in islet,circlet . It is from words of this type that the suffix –let was formed,

which was eventually joined on to native stems to derive the substantives streamlet


The French suffix –é, used to derive the past participle of French group I verbs (from Latin –atum) penetrated into English as a part of some substantives denoting “a person taking a possessive part in some action or agreement”,such as lesse,

employee. Eventually the suffix was joined on to a Scandinavian stem to derive the substantive trustee.

The suffix –ard (of German origin) penetrated into English as a part of the substantives coward,bastard. Joined on to native English stems it yielded the substantives “wizard” (from the stem of the adjective wīs),drunkard,dullard;joined on to a Scandinavian stem,it yielded the substantive “niggard”.

The suffix –al (from French –aille ),used to derive abstract substantives from verb stems,penetrated into English as part of the substantives funeral,refusal,arrival

proposal.Eventually it was joined on to an English stem to derive the substantive burial.

The suffix –able,-ible , deriving adjectives which mean “capable of undergoing the action denoted by the verb stem”, came into English as of the adjectives admirable,tolerable,legible,flexible. Eventually it was joined on to native stems to derive the adjectives readable,unbearable,understandable,etc.


Some French prefixes also became productive in English. Thus, the prefix dis-,

des- with a negative meaning,came into English as part of the French verbs disappoint,disdain,disagree and was eventually used to derive verbs from native stems:disown,disburden, and from a Scandinavian stem:distrust .

The French prefix en- (from Latin in- ), familiar from such words as encompass,

encircle,encage, was joined on to native stems to derive to verbs endear, embed


4.2.The French Influence On Middle English Syntax.

Old English has often been described as a Verb Second (V2) language, a language like modern German or Dutch in which the finite verb immediately follows the initial constituent.The characteristic property of a V2 language is the inversion of the subject and the finite verb in clauses in which a non-subject constituent occupies the initial position.Such inversion can be indeed be frequently found in OE.However,the V2 syntax of Old English is not as systematic as that found in Modern Germanic languages. For example, except in a small number of

contexts (e.g.interrogative), pronominal subjects generally do not invert with the

finite verb when some other constituent occurs clause-initially,thereby giving rise to Verb Third orders.But also with non-pronominal subjects,subject-verb inversion with an initial non-subject constituent is not obligatory even though it is the more frequently used option in OE texts than non-inversion.The situation in Early Middle English(EME) is comparable to that in OE.

Although OE and EME may thus not be considered as V2 languages on a par with modern Germanic languages,it remains nevertheless true that they feature productive subject-verb inversion patterns that cannot be found in Modern English any more. The main period that has been identified for the loss of this productive

inversion grammar is the second half of the Middle English period. In most texts

from this period, we can indeed observe a considerable increase in “XP-SU-V”

orders at the expense of “XP-V-SU”orders.The issue that has drown most attention

in the literature in this connection is the question why subject-verb inversion declines in the Late Middle English (LME) period.However,the developments in

LME raise several other questions that have remained without satisfactory answers so far:

Whereas the overall trend in LME is a substantial decrease in subject-verb inversion as compared to OE/EME,we can observe the opposite development in clauses with pronominal subjects.Inversion with subject pronouns was virtually absent in certain contexts in OE/EME,but in later ME we can suddenly observe an increase in inversion in these contexts.

In their popular history of the English language,Baugh and Cable rightly observe

“that the upper classes should have set the standard in fashion and dress is so obvious an assumption that the number of French words belonging to this class occasions no surprise”.The question of the standardization of English in the Middle English period is still discussed by scholars.There is no variety of English that can be seen to be fully elaborated and it is only by considering the shift in the range of the functions of the variety which took place during the Middle Ages that we can analyze attitudes to English in this period.Following the Conquest and increasingly through the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,the number of Anglo-French and later Continental French terms representing textiles,items of clothing and other accoutrement imported into Middle English went hand-in- hand with

evolving attitudes towards language and fasion practices and economics.

Advanced L2 users make some errors with grammatical gender,and with constructions involving null arguments. Balanced bilingual speakers, however, are usually able to keep the grammatical systems of their two languages separate, using gender marking almost entirely consistently when acquiring French. In

this study we attempt to evaluate the competence of later Anglo-Norman administrative prose writers on null impersonal subjects and noun gender agreement, in order to assess whether a profile of balanced bilinguals or of advanced L2 users is more appropriate. We have sought evidence from Anglo-Norman petitions dating from the end of the 13th century to the 1430s. This data source is now available in a machine-readable corpus, is fairly homogenous in style, making diachronic change more salient, and was produced by Anglo-Norman users whose competence in French needed to be of a very high order for them to perform their duties as royal government clerks.Old French impersonal verbs such as co(n)venir,which expressed obligation, often involved an impersonal null subject, with the dative or the accusative case used to mark the role of the person on whom the obligation rests. In psycholinguistic terms, their grammatical knowledge would have been stored and processed in such a way that it was not influenced by English. Their competence in French was thus that of a balanced bilingual, at least in the respects investigated in this study. By the late C14, that was plainly no longer the case: their competence in French appears to have been more at the level of an advanced, but not nativelike, L2 learner who was to an extent influenced by English.Up to that period, the most expert users of French, at least, seem to have been balanced bilinguals, whereas after it they were not. This outcome suggests that a significant change took place in the circumstances in which French was transmitted in England in the second half of the C14, such that balanced bilingual users became extinct.

The French Influence on English Phrasing .

Aside from borrowing and word formation,French considerably influenced Eng phrasing. While A. Prins dates the peak of this influence to late ME,Nevalainen points out that it continues to be felt in EModE. The loan translations range from polite turns of speech,such as at your service,do me the favour,to engage somebody in a quarrel, to make (later: pay) a visit, to idiomatic phrases like by occasion, in detail, in favour of, in the last resort, in particular, to the contrary.

Though the number of French loans in the EModE period is relatively minor in comparison to M.E, the contribution is most important.The EModE French loans

were primarily borrowed to provide richness to the language.Whilst it was arguable during the Restoration whether the loans were corrupting or enriching the language, today there is no doubt or disputable grounds to argue that the loans did anything but enrich the English language


Since the Norman Conquest in 1066 the French language became more and more important. The Normans (North-man) were descendants of the Danes and spoke French influenced by a Germanic dialect. They inhabited some parts in the north of France and adapted not only to the language, but also to the French culture. They had a talent for building churches, cathedrals, castles and proved the English their rank of military quality.

Yet, that does not mean the English culture was inferior to the French one. The Anglo- Saxons were excellent writers, artists and craftsmen. They did not lack in civilization. “French became the language of the upper classes in England simply because it was the language of the conquerors, not because of any cultural superiority on their part.”By this time, the French and English language existed side by side and French took over to be the language of the court and “royalty

of England throughout the twelfth,thirteenth and (diminishingly) fourteenth centuries.”The kings of England spoke French, took French wives and lived mostly in France. The Normans became the new upper class. They dominated all high positions like the church, education, aristocracy, administration etc.. So, many other people, particularly among the gentry whose native language was English had to acquire French, if they “wanted to get on in the world.”

Although there were more common people holding on to their mother tongue than noblemen speaking French, English was on a decline, as the French language had its prestige in the most important ranks.The character of the words now borrowed,the objects and ideas they denoted,are full of significance for England’s early history. This period is one of the most important stages in the development of the English language. "It marks the transition between English as a typologically ′Old Germanic′ language and English of the type familiar to us."The Norman Conquest in 1066 and hence the French influence play a major role in this development.More clearly,French considerably influenced the vocabulary,the morphology and the phonolgy of the English language.

However, in order to be able to understand the changes in Middle English, it is undispensable to know about the historical events namely the Norman Conquest which led to these changes. As the French influence hardly affected the English grammar,I only considered the changes in the vocabulary.I also briefly referred to other language borrowings to show that the French influence was not the only one, but the most effective in the period of great change – the Middle English. Lastly, in my conclusion I summarized my results.