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Re: LITERARY NOTES



On Fri, 2 Feb 1996 steve.cole@genie.com wrote:

> ENGLISH OR AMERICAN: The problem with English is that most languages
> descend from a single root while English is a "blending" of the German
> and Latin families (thanks to the Norman Conquest). One of the reasons
> that English is such a good language is that there are two adjectives,
> two adverbs, two expressions, two emotions for everything, the word
> descended from the French conquerors and the one descended from the
> original Anglo-Saxon peasants. That makes pronounciation very hard
> since you have, basically, the Anglo and Franco way of pronouncing
> each word (wherever it came from).

I hate to nitpick, but as an amateur linguist who tries to dispel the 
myth of "mixed" languages, I must protest.  English is simply a Germanic 
language with heavy infusions of Latin and French words.  In fact, 
English is a "better" language than you even suggested, because there are 
several instances where we have one or more Latin words (usually having 
passed through French), sometimes an original French word, an Anglo-Saxon 
word, an Old Norse-derived word, and sometimes even a Greek word, usually 
with slightly different connotations.  For instance, the following words 
all mean about the same thing:

"illness" (Anglo-Saxon);
"sickness" (Old Norse);
"infirmity," "disease" (French-derived Latin);
"malaise" (French);
and "pathology" (Greek);

but each is appropriate to different usages and settings.

English is a fascinating and rich language, but it is not a "'blending' 
of the German and Latin families."

Nick Pharris
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447
(206)535-8204
PharriNJ@PLU.edu

"If you can't convince them, confuse them." -- Harry S. Truman