Anglo-Saxon vs Foreign Words

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Anglo-Saxon vs Foreign Words

Postby JackFrost » 2004-11-17, 3:23

Which do you think that the native English-speakers are more likely to use in their vocabulary, words of Anglo-Saxon/Old English origin, or foreign/loan words?

Like for example...

to understand vs to comprend
castle vs palace
sweat vs perspiration
dead vs deceased
want vs desire

I believe we usually tend (naturally) use Anglo-Saxon words over French words in everyday speaking, and use foreign words (usually of French origin) for formal occassions like making a speech.

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Postby JackFrost » 2004-11-17, 3:32

Hmmm, interesting...

"The majority of words in modern English come from foreign, not Old English roots. In fact, only about one sixth of the known Old English words have descendants surviving today. But this is deceptive; Old English is much more important than these statistics would indicate. About half of the most commonly used words in modern English have Old English roots. Words like be, water, and strong, for example, derive from Old English roots."

I also heard that top 100 most common words in the language, all of them are of Anglo-Saxon origin.

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Postby Psi-Lord » 2004-11-17, 12:24

A book I'm reading (L'aventure des langues en Occident, by Henriette Walter) has a section on English foreign borrowings and Germanic native words and, although the latter are indeed much more likely to appear in everyday English (while the former would often sound more formal or bookish), it also points a couple of interesting exceptions:

dale vs valley
deed vs action / exploit

And those that entered the language under a different view, therefore being used parallelly to the Germanic ones, though with a slight shift in meaning:

pig vs pork
cow vs beef
calf vs veal
sheep vs mutton
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Postby Kubi » 2004-11-17, 13:42

Psi-Lord wrote:A book I'm reading (L'aventure des langues en Occident, by Henriette Walter)

An interesting one, I've read it as well.

And those that entered the language under a different view, therefore being used parallelly to the Germanic ones, though with a slight shift in meaning:

pig vs pork
cow vs beef
calf vs veal
sheep vs mutton

I wouldn't say "a slight shift in meaning" (though the expression isn't wrong, of course). These words reflect quite well the differenciation of the English society after the Norman conquest: the Germanic words denote the living animals the English (lower) class usually dealt with. The Romance words are used for the meal - the state in which the Norman rulers normally got in touch with them.
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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-11-17, 15:51

Normally, in texts of persons with a higher educated background words of French and Latin ancestry are used.

In everyday speech, the words of Anglo-Saxon orign are preferred; at least many people do it that way.

As have been stated by the other posters, you can't write a text without using words of Anglo-Saxon orign.

senatortombstone

Postby senatortombstone » 2004-11-17, 17:05

Castle and palace are both of foreign origin

Middle English castel, from Old English, and from Norman French both from Latin castellum, diminutive of castrum. See kes- in Indo-European Roots.]

But I suppose castle has been used in English longer than palace has.

What I find ironic is that many French linguists react very harshly to new words coming into their language, especially English. Since about half of English vocabulary comes from borrowed French words, it is somewhat hypocritical.

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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-11-17, 17:06

The old French words have been anglizised and they may think that they don't fit to the rest of their language.

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Postby Rob P » 2004-11-18, 1:42

The old French words have been anglizised and they may think that they don't fit to the rest of their language.


And really they don't! I hate hearing English words which have become so common in French. Words like "un pull" "un sweat" "des baskettes" (I don't think I spelled that right - I mean sneakers...) which don't carry exactly the same meaning in French as their English origins, as well as words like "le skateboard" which do, really drive me crazy. However, this is, of course, personal judgement. On the other hand, using French words in English like soirée, or fête, or plat du jour to me gives it a more sophisticated register, and I don't mind using them. I guess this is kind of crazy for me to say that it's ok to use french words in English, but not English words in French, but that truly is how I feel, politically correct or not. Not being a native French speaker, I don't know what kind of "feel" using English words gives. Of course, sometimes there is no "native" french word, but when there is, perhaps using English makes it sound younger, just as using French in English gives it a more upper-class feel? Anyway, I'm just guessing here.

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Re: Anglo-Saxon vs Foreign Words

Postby Geist » 2004-11-18, 2:00

JackFrost wrote:Like for example...

to understand vs to comprend
castle vs palace
sweat vs perspiration
dead vs deceased
want vs desire

I think some of these words have a slight difference in meaning, perhaps historical in nature - for example, when I say "palace" I think of something resembling Versailles (opulent, spacious, elegant, etc.), whereas "castle" evokes images of rustic, starker, older stone structures, especially in England, Scotland, and Ireland (and Wales :lol: ). These differences fit these words' etymologies, though. Another example -"desire", to me, is a bit stronger and more focused than the basic "want". I guess what I'm trying to say is that, maybe, while words from different roots started out as synonyms, they have evolved into slightly different concepts as time and necessity demand.
I wonder if any of that made sense... :D
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senatortombstone

Postby senatortombstone » 2004-11-18, 15:45

castle vs palace
sweat vs perspiration
dead vs deceased
want vs desire


A man's home is his palace.

Can you do this job, it is hard? No persperation!

He's deceased Jim! (star trek)

I desire an X-Box for Christmas.

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Postby Zoroa » 2004-11-18, 16:10

Using english words may give a younger touch, but it often gives the feeling you're a business man or someone who works in the fashion sector...

For instance, this is what I hear here at work:

"demain on fait un conf-call, tu finalises le pitch et on envoie un teaser pour compléter le deal..."

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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-11-18, 19:01

Zoroa, so you are talking about English in other languages? Yes, I noticed it, too, and it's annoying, especially when politicians do that. :evil:

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Postby Stan » 2004-11-21, 1:39

It is normal for languages to borrow words from other languages, like taco, burrito, jalepeño from Spanish. Or soiree, fiance, menage a trois, coup d'etat from French.

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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-11-21, 5:35

Stancel, if there isn't an own word for it, but this case, Zoroa and I were talking about is another form of borrowing: Some people think they appear to be superior, if they use English phrases in a German (or whatever language) conversation. E.g. is it idiotic, if a politician does that because he should explain complicated things to the people because he is their representative.

Guest

Postby Guest » 2004-11-25, 3:23

First of all, I did not know that a palace and castle were the same thing. They aren't, according to this random dictionary. A castle is a place someone builds to protect himself when he's trying to conquer a foreign land. A palace is just a fancy place that doesn't necessarily have any special function of defense (although most politically important buildings in history have required defense).

Rob, I don't mind the French taking our language and distorting it. Actually, it's the French in English that bothers me in a way... because all these evil teachers know French words that I don't, when I'm the one who's supposed to know French! Hahaha... But knowing French really helps me on tests and stuff. :lol: I had never seen fête in English until I took a test, so my studies helped me there... But now I see that word in English constantly.

Well, since French mainly entered the English language through the upperclass/government, it's not surprising that the 100 most basic words are of Germanic origin. If one could even get the important people to change their most basic speech, then how would they get the commoners to change theirs?

You notice how when you read poetry in Old-Middle English, it gets suddenly more like now once it reaches the stage where French words come in. Many of those words may have reached poetry and the upperclass as a whole, but it looks like the common folk won this war. :wink: I guess that's the only reason there's a big difference between written and spoken language...... because written language began as separate from the common tongue and people.

Guest#2

palace vs. castle

Postby Guest#2 » 2004-12-03, 7:30

That makes sense -- about palace and castle having a subtle difference in meaning. German has the same distinction between Burg and Schloss. A Burg/castle is for fortification or defense, while a Schloss/palace is basically to look nice.

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Postby Ariki » 2004-12-03, 8:19

A castle isn't as grand as a palace.
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Postby Ne Kesälauantait » 2004-12-03, 10:00

I agree that the two words suggest slightly different things. When someone says castle I think of knights, Europe and medieval times. When someone says palace I think of someplace "exotic" like a Sultan's palace in India.


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