Oh and...

Posted by Tina on August 14, 2002

In Reply to: Oh and... posted by R. Berg on August 14, 2002

: : : : : : Where did the custom originate that English speaking countries would use a French term?

: : : : : In England, which was ruled by the French for a while (will some history major please help me out here?). English is full of borrowings from other languages, apart from the influence of the period of French occupation on many English words. The earliest example of "RSVP" in the Oxford English Dictionary is dated about 1845, long after the Anglo-Saxons got their country back.

: : : : Look... just because by happy accident back in 1066, William of Normandy got lucky on Senlac Hill and beat up on the Saxon king of the time, Harold (who was having a particularly bad year), thus becoming William 1st, doesn't mean that this sceptred isle ever was ruled by the French! Well actually, it means precisely that in many ways, but the Norman invaders/conquerors were thereafter rapidly assimilated into and mingled with the Anglo-Saxon native bloodlines. From then on in, England entirely fell out with the French for centuries, its mainland was never invaded again (and hasn't been to this day) and its armies actually spent many happy years in the C14th and C15th sequestering large chunks of northern France and routing its armies embarrassingly easily.

: : : : Touchy? Moi? :)

: : : ...not that either the Angles or the Saxons were original inhabitants of Britain either, but just very prevalent at the time. There's some deal of discussion as to who the original inhabitants of Britain were, because the island got invaded rather a lot during the first millennium AD, and plenty of invaders, be they Romans, Vikings, Danes, Jutes, Angles or Saxons hung around to enter the general melting-pot. The clever money is on the original Britons being of Pictish and Celtic stock, and lots of those were driven back into the extremities of the country, such as Wales, Scotland, the county of Cornwall etc etc. All of which explains why English is a language of such varied roots.

: : How right you all are to be touchy on this subject since France - the country - never had the privilege of ruling this sceptred isle, whereas we stout hearted English - or was it the Welsh under the command of Henry V - roundly defeated the French at Agincourt in 1415, albeit we were outnumbered four/five to one. Then of course there were other decisive victories over the French notably at Trafalgar in 1805 when we disposed of the French Navy and finally at Waterloo in 1815 where we put an end to the ability of the French nation to rampage and pillage wherever they fancied throughout the world. Didn't we do well considering that we had to also contend with the Pope and the combined efforts of the Roman Catholic world praying against us for 300 years.

: I knew the history majors would come through when the record needed correcting. Thanks!

Well, it seems I opened a can of worms on that one (I wonder where THAT expression came from!). But thanks for the grand English and History lessons! I've learned more than I bargained for!