Essay on The Word Fatal Of The English Language

825 Words Jan 8th, 2016 4 Pages
The word fatal came about in the English language in the Middle English period, circa 1347. Originally the adjectival form of fate, it initially meant “allotted or decreed by fate or destiny; destined, fated” (OED, 2015). Up until the early 16th century, circa 1518, its various definitions continued to revolve around the idea of “destiny”, portraying the largely stagnant semantic change lasting for almost two centuries.
Its initial borrowing likely came as a result of the Norman Conquest of 1066, which placed French and English speakers linguistically in close contact, and subsequently large amounts of words were borrowed from Old French. Due to the French ‘high society’ emerging as a result of the conquest, the Anglo-French diglossia (Bergs, Ungeheuer and Wiegand, 2012) was unconcealed and French was seen as the superior language used in the arts, science, education, and generally the ‘highbrow’ of society. However, around the mid-14th Century, when fatal was first recorded in Chaucer’s Troilus & Criseyde, the blatant use of French in this manner had diminished and these French/Latin borrowed words were incorporated into what was assumed to be the ‘proper’ and ‘formal’ manner of speaking English, a form of ‘latent digolossia’ (Chubarov, 2015). Furthermore, it is important to note that fatal became to fit in with traditional English morphology of merging a noun, fate, with the suffix –al, which forms an adjective from the root word.
The reasoning behind its slow semantic…

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