Naming Resources - Language History

The Bayeux Tapestry depicts scenes from the 1066 Battle of Hastings, which marked the start of the Norman Conquest. This event has important implications for today’s English speakers due to the great change it brought to the English culture and language.

Therefore, the tapestry and what it represents also hold considerable significance for the discipline of linguistics and for naming.

What single historical event had the greatest impact on our English language?

ship

The answer is explained in scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry, famous for its graphical depiction of the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

The Norman conquerors spoke a dialect of old French grounded in Latin. As a result, 10,000 new words of French and Latin origin were added to the English language. For instance, pharmacy, library, and marriage.

Why is English spoken by 300 million people?

king's table

King William's invasion of England in 1066 set the stage for a new English language, one that is spoken by 300 million people in the world today.

Some Norman French words cut through the clutter in 1066 and today changed English forever. They include "action", "adventure", "courage", "siege, "soldier", and "spy".

Why do English and French coexist in the English language?

horsemen

The Norman conquest of England in 1066 led to a remarkable coexistence of two distinct languages: French and English.

English words were used for common things such as animals in the field. Oxen, sheep and calves were bred and raised for food. But once they made it to the table, they became the more sophisticated cuisine known as beef, mutton and veal.

Why is the English language so rich in meaning?

working

Due to a series of consecutive invasions by the Germans, Romans, Vikings and Normans, the English language developed into a voluminous hybrid of Latin, Saxon, Danish and Norman French.

Today, our rich, English vocabulary boasts over 200,000 common usage words while Modern French has a mere 100,000.

Only in English, can we make such fine distinctions between words like "asking", "questioning" or "interrogating". And in only English can we express three or four shades of meaning with words like "rise", "mount" or "ascend".

How did the French victory of Hastings affect the English language?

swords

Because of the French victory over Britain at the battle of Hastings, our English language is rich with sophisticated words of French origin such as melody, music, painting, lieutenant, captain, communion, temptation and salvation.

What saved the English Mother Tongue?

king

The Norman victory at Hastings nearly extinguished our English Mother Tongue.

Yet, thanks to the lower classes, English survived. While the new aristocracy and English King spoke only French, the English peasant continued to eat, drink, sleep and work in English.

That is why humble traders retained their Anglo-Saxon names like baker, miller and shoemaker while more skilled trades gained French monikers such as physician, painter and tailor.

Why are most English words easy to pronounce?

battle

Before William the Conqueror landed on the English shore and conquered the kingdom of Great Britain, the English word for people was 'leod' and the word for beautiful was 'wlitig.'

Once the French invaded England in 1066, the difficult to pronounce native words were supplanted by more melodious French ones. As a result, we can now spend our time admiring beautiful people instead of wlitig leods.