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Why is there French words in the English language?

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January 24, 2013 3:23PM

I will deal here only with the historical aspect.

That is true, and contrary to my fellow french who think that

French is invaded by English, English has much more french words

than French has English. While the reasons English is used in

today's french are pragmatical as English is now the International

language, the reasons why English has so many french words in it

are historical.

The reign of William the Conqueror brought the langue

d'oïl, an ancester of French, spoken in Northern France, which

enriched the anglo-saxon language.

This anglo-norman french was principaly used by the aristocracy,

the french influence was almost present in Law, civic affairs and

warfare. The aristoratric titles were, for example, directly coming

from french (Duke from Duc ....). The Clergy always used latin at

that time and the people used to speak anglo-saxon which could be

found several version (germanic, latin, dutch or celtic ...)

depending on the region.

This dichotomy between the people and their rulers is the main

reason why there are so many doublons in English. For example,

Mutton (from french mouton) is used to define the meat while Sheep

(sceap in Old English) from german is used to define the animal.

Incredible and unbelievable is also an example

The french growing influence lasted until the beginning of the

15th century and indelibly transformed the "Old English", not only

in the vocabulary but also in grammar.

I don't remember how linguists call the 16th and 17th english,

(modern maybe), but during this period, with Renaissance, English

had been also hugely influenced by ancient Greek and Latin.

And then, English has integrated much more than french. With

trade, English also borrowed vocabulary from Spanish, Dutch,

German, Italian.... And with time this melting pot has given the

English used today.

The subject here in vast and I thank everyone who could precise

or add informations. Do not hesitate to contact me for any


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