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The Linguistic Influence of the Norman Conquest (11th Century) on the English Language

The Linguistic Influence of the Norman Conquest (11th Century) on the English Language

By Azhar A. Alkazwini

International Journal of Linguistics, Vol.8:3 (2016)

Detail to the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch showing the construction of the Tower of Babel.

Detail to the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch showing the construction of the Tower of Babel.

Abstract: In this paper I present some historical facts that took place regarding the Norman Conquest in England, then, I discuss the different Linguistic influences on English which appears to lend support to the fact that the French Normans had a major effect on the English Language. Evidence of some changes that took place on English as a result of the Norman invasion is presented, and finally I shall conclude with the fact that some views may not be as convincing as they were once believed to be. The claim that the Normans did not have any influence on the structure of English is falsified by Lars R.’s. (1975) analysis that proves the opposite, and which is discussed later in this paper.

Introduction: Before the arrival of the Germanic tribes, Celtic and Roman influences were already found in Britain. The English language had been spoken by a few in a particular area, and spread to being spoken by a larger numbers of people in different geographic locations, according to Gelderen. Despite the Germanic origins of the English language, French, Scandinavian and Latin influences are considerable and they make up nearly half of the English words. According to Barber, the influence of French in Britain was already obvious in the higher positions of society even before the Norman Conquest happened.

The Norman French became the language of government in England as a result of the Conquest, when Anglo-Normans replaced the native English nobility, according to Algeo and Pyles. As a result of the Conquest, the influence of French on the English language was clear with many French words replacing English vocabulary. It was not only that the word stock was influenced, but in Middle English the areas of idiom and grammar were also affected.

Click here to read this article from the International Journal of Linguistics

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