How French influenced English
"Our linguistic knowledge goes beyond the translation service tout court; the interest in languages for the members of the Lipsie translation agency dates back to the evolution of most of them. That is why we decided to go into more detail about certain aspects of the philology of modern languages. Let's start with the two most important and requested languages in the economic and cultural world: English and French."
In fact, we must not forget that English and French have 27% of words in common (lexical affinity - both in terms of meaning and signifier). Various linguistic authorities claim that 45% of English words derive from the French, although their similarity is not always so obvious.
The linguistic influences of the French language on the English language
- Over the centuries English has been influenced by different languages and English speakers are aware that German (between English and German the similarity rises to 60%!) and Latin are among those that have most forged and inspired it. However, it is often forgotten that the French language also played a fundamental role in the determination of modern English.
- Here are some basic historical notes on the English language. English has its origins from three Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes) who settled in Britain in 450 AD. This group of dialects constitutes what linguists call Anglo-Saxon and some aspects of this language will find space directly in Old English (OE, Old English dating back to the period from 450 to 1100 a.C.). This Germanic base was further influenced by the Celtic, Latin and Scandinavian languages.
- Mother Tongue author: The Story of the English Language author Bill Bryson calls the Norman conquest of 1066 "the last cataclysm that struck the English language". In fact, when the Norman William the Conqueror became King of England, French rose to become the language of court, administration and culture, staying there unchallenged for 300 years. Meanwhile, the English language, deprived of political and cultural weight, was used above all by the common people, without any prestige or value. The English language and the French language coexisted in England with enormous difficulties; but, since "impoverished and reviled" English was ignored by philologists and grammarians, it was advantageous from a structural point of view, presenting an increasingly simplified grammatical structure, and after only 80 years of coexistence with French, Old English became Middle English (Middle English which branches off from 1100-1500 a.C.).
French English Vocabulary
Numerous words of French origin, over the centuries, in English have changed spelling and pronunciation, have been subjected, in short, to the linguistic laws that have relentlessly followed. However, curiously, some words have remained identical to their origins in French: Déjà vu - Entrepreneur - Fiancé - Bon voyage - Amour-propre - Allée - Matinée - Après Ski - Boutique - Café - Hors d'Oeuvres - Adorable - Encore - Bon Ton - C'est la Vie - Art Deco, etc...
- During the Norman occupation that corresponds to a sort of eclipse of the English language, about 10,000 French terms were adopted in English, three quarters of which are still used today. French vocabulary is present in every area, from government and legislative language, to art and literature. Over a third of English words have a direct or indirect French source and it is estimated that even English speakers who have never studied French, still know 15,000 terms "naturally".
French English phonetics and phonology
- English pronunciation owes much to French pronunciation. While Old English possesses the fricative deaf sounds, as in 'thin', and 'shin', the influence of the French language has distinguished the fricatives sonori , (the), and (mirage), and also contributed to the formation of the diphthong (boy).
French English grammar
- Another rare, but interesting "residue" of the influence French is the order of words in expressions such as secretary general and surgeon general, where English has maintained the order noun + adjective, typical of the French language, rather than the usual adjective + noun used in the English language.