H. R. Lyon's Article 'The Norman Conquest Of The English Language'

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English purism is the reduction of the use of foreign words in the English language and use of only English native words from Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and Norse routes. One of the largest influences is Latin, and specifically French. Thus to understand The English language and to get a better understanding of English purism, it is necessary to analyze and identify major French influences on English. The major historical event that can be best concluded as to why French influence English so much, aside from proximity, is the Norman Conquest of 1066. In his article, “The Norman Conquest of the English Language” H.R. Lyon discusses the effect of the Norman Conquest on the culture and language of the English speaking people in the late medieval era …show more content…
Next, he supports his claim that government affairs were handled in English by giving examples of writs, sealed orders given to local rulers by nobles to explain their desires and goals. For religion, Lyon points to sermons a various priests’ writings. Literature he ties in with Religion, pointing to some priests’ non-religious writings. Finally he throws in various literary works such as Beowulf and a few others that were written before the Norman Conquest. He provides these examples to demonstrate the effect the Norman Conquest had. He shows when the Norman’s won, that Latin replaced Old English as the language of law and religion, and then later Latin gave way to Norman-French; he did however point out that Norman-French did not become the predominant language of literature and government procedure until approximately 200 years after the Conquest. However, of some of the writings that Lyon presented from the time period suggest that one of the writers, Byrhtferth, was a little “shamefacedly” using English, and took pride in his scattered use of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin (Lyon 3). He states that English may not have been actively repressed or discouraged, but to be …show more content…
The officials and administrators from the Normans used their language combined with Latin in their ruling. Thus French influenced English as a language of the upper class: English was seen as inferior. Roth gives some examples of English words derived from the French ruling class such as “Throne” from tróne. Next, Roth states that after the initial Norman Conquest, Central French influenced English even more starting in 1250 when it became the language that represented chivalry. At first, French only influenced those at the top; however, it eventually became part of the vernacular. Anyone in the middle-class that sought upward mobility would use French to secure a position as a member in the upper class. Roth added that when Latin stopped being used in English courts, French replaced it as the language of law. French was also the scholar’s language because of the major university in Paris; she pointed out that the word university itself is French. Roth continues by claiming even though the plague struck and a law was passed stating that all English laws must be written in English (Statute of Pleading), that French still played an important role as a language to borrow from. After the influence of French on Middle English, she moves into French’s influence on Early Modern English. Roth then gives examples of major

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