French (Norman) Influences on English

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French (Norman) Influences on English

French (Norman) Influences on English

French (Norman) Influences on English

French (Norman) Influences on English

One of the most illuminating foreign influences on English is the French influence by the Normans. The Normans were the inhabitants of Normandy, situated at the northern-east of French. The Normans of Normandy conquered England in 1066 A.D. and from that time the influence of Norman-French on English began. The Normans, like the English, were originally a Germanic race, and even before the Norman conquest of England social, political as well as religious intercourse had begun among the ruling classes of England and France. And as a result, some French words entered into English even before the conquest. But regular and even stronger influence began with the conquest and this influence has been going on to the present day. We can divide the long times of French influences on English into two distinctive periods such as: (a) French influence during the Middle English period and (b) French influence during the Modern English period. Let us discuss the French influence on the English period by period.

French Influence During the Middle English Period

During the Middle English Period, English was influenced by French words relating to administration, military affairs, feudalism, law, religion; words relating to art and architecture; words relating to amusement; words relating to fashion and many others.

Words relating to administration are- state, government, reign, realm, crown, country, authority, parliament, council, people, nation etc.

Feudalism was introduced into England by the French and some feudal words took their way into English, such as feudal vassal, prince, duke, duchess, count, viscount etc.

Some court and courtly adjectives also entered into English, such words are- courteous, noble, fine, refined etc.

The management of military affairs was also taken over by the French and as a result, the vocabulary of military words had entered English, such words are– peace, battle, arms, armour, lance, banner, soldiers, officer, navy, admiral etc.

Many law terms entered into English as the French took a prominent role in the affairs pertaining to law and as a result, many law words and terms were accepted by English, for example, justice, judge, jury, suit, sue, crime, penalty etc.

Many words relating to religion also found their way into English such as- religion, saviour, trinity, angel, saint, altar, prayer, virgin, service, baptism, preach etc.

Words relating to amusement and food were- joy, pleasure, delight, case, comfort, fruits, flowers etc.

Words relating to fashion were- dress, apparel, costume, garment, tailor, mason, chair, table etc.

Words pertaining to art and architecture were: art, beauty, design, colour, tower, pillar, vault, palace, mansion, chapel etc.

French Influence During the Modern English Period

During the Modern English period, many French words entered English. The words entered during this period were pertaining to a variety of subjects as mentioned below:

John Dryden, an enthusiastic practitioner of the earliest France dramatic life, had introduced as many as two hundred French words into English and hence the modern influence of French began to fall on English strongly and regularly. Let us discuss the French influence century by century.

Words borrowed by English from French in the 17th century are- dragon, parole, ballet, burlesque, excellence, group etc.

Words taken in the 18th century are– guillotine, salon, bureau, canteen, critique, brochure, picnic, etc.

French words borrowed in the 19th century are more in number than that of the 17th and 18th centuries. Words taken up in the 19th century are pertaining to art and literature, military and diplomacy, and words pertaining to dress and food such as:

Words relating to art and literature: resume, literature, cliche, renaissance, baton, matinee, macabre etc.

Words pertaining to military and diplomatic affairs are:  attache, prestige, charge de-affairs, debacle, rapprochement, barrage etc

Words relating to dress and food are– rosette, fichu, profile, beret, restaurant, menu, gratin etc.

And words borrowed in the 20th century are- garage, libre, hangar, camouflage etc. In recent times, English has taken many striking phrases from French through the literal translation of French writing. Some of such phrases are- goes without saying, make a gaffe, jump to the eyes etc.

Except for such influences, the French contributed much to English hybridism, such as- the Duke’s children (for the children of the duke), the noblest of all people (for the most noble of all people) etc.

Thus the influence and effect of French influence on English are so strong that the English language is considerably indebted to the French language. 0 0 0.

French (Norman) Influences on English

Read More: Latin Influences on English

French (Norman) Influences on English

N. B. This article entitled ‘French (Norman) Influences on English’ originally belongs to the book ‘A Brief History of the English Language‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

French (Norman) Influences on English

Books of Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

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Menonimus
I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.

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