The English Language: as influential as it Is Influenced

The English Language: as influential as it Is Influenced

The English Language: as influential as it Is Influenced

English is among the most (if not THE most) well-traveled languages in the world. It has seeped into countless geographical locations, cultures and other languages and has exerted its influence on them. Historically, the spread of English was a product of colonization and its resultant broadening economic reach and power. Today, this anglobilization is even more far-reaching thanks to the internet.

 

Language Exchange

As a result of this omnipresence, English vocabulary and idioms have been added to the lexicons of a myriad of languages and dialects. By the same token, the English lexicon itself has grown, and continues to do so, as it has incorporated vocabulary and expressions of other languages through its travels. These influences have given English its vast, rich, and ever-expanding vocabulary.

 

French and English: Mutual Influence

Although the French and the English have historically not been the best of friends, the French language has perhaps had a greater influence on the English lexicon than any other source language. Actually, this is precisely because of the stormy relationship between French and the English. The Norman conquest of the English in 1066 brought about a huge influx of vocabulary and lexical items from the language of Molière to that of Shakespeare. Many of these have retained their original French spelling (or orthography, which is from the French orthographe) and even their original pronunciation; that is, depending on the talent of the speaker. We are all familiar with vocabulary items like entrepreneur and catalogue, or expressions like faux pas and déjà vu, which are still commonly used to this day. Other examples, like detour, utensil, and justice, have undergone slight spelling and pronunciation modifications but remain French words at heart.

 

The English Language’s Fancy Vocabulary Courtesy of the French

In a myriad of cases, the French language has enriched the English vocabulary by providing higher level, more sophisticated synonyms for existing English vocabulary items. For example, the English words, live, think, and offspring have been upgraded by the French additions of reside, conceive, and progeny. If you are francophone and would like to learn English but fear that it is a huge undertaking; don’t worry, you already know a significant number of high-level vocabulary items.

 

An Appetite for Vocabulary

One of the greatest and most welcome influences of French culture on English society is French cuisine. The borrowed French word cuisine itself evokes the idea of preparing food as an art-form much more vividly than the blander and more utilitarian English words cooking or food. In fact, along with the unique flavors, textures, and techniques imported from French cuisine comes a host of correspondingly unique vocabulary items, such as chef, flambé, sauté, and au gratin. The list could go on but would whet this author’s appetite if he were to continue. In keeping with the theme of food, French has also brought special vocabulary items to the English language that distinguish some of the meats we eat from their living form. In the distant past, English ascribed the same name to cows and pigs whether they were occupying the barnyard or the plate. The French raise these same animals for food, but they serve beef (boeuf) and pork (porc), which just sounds more gastronomic, to use another food-related vocabulary item drawn from French.

 

Other Contributors to English Vocabulary

At its height, the colonial British empire spanned the hundred-year period from 1815 to 1914 and touched virtually every continent. The following is a short list of vocabulary items and the regions from which they originate:

The African continent = banjo, cola, jive, hazard, gamble, dice

Asia = tycoon, shampoo, yen (desire), ketchup (surprisingly, a non-tomato-based sauce from India)

The Americas = mosquito, canyon

The Caribbean = barbeque

 

As we can see, the linguistic influence that a dominant nation or culture can have on another is reciprocal. In the end, both languages come out with a broader and richer vocabulary and lexicon. This is definitely a case of travel broadening one’s horizons.

 

 

 

Author: David Paupelain

hello & welcome.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Search
Explore Categories

Popular Posts

Don't Miss

Favorites from the blog

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

A Freebie just for you!

Free download title here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.