svzm:

allthingslinguistic:

Thanks to Linguist Twitter for finding this example of how some things just don’t change!

Modern historians tend to characterize the time where English borrowed a lot of words from Norman French as a period of richness and innovation, but sure enough, writers at the time were grumbling about how kids these days were speaking absolutely terrible Anglo Saxon. 

Full quote, from Bokenham in 1440 (notice how he’s ironically using lots of Latinate words in his complaint, like “corruption” and “familiar” and “augmentation”):

And þis corrupcioun of Englysshe men yn þer modre-tounge, begunne as I
seyde with famylyar commixtion of Danys firste and of Normannys aftir,
toke grete augmentacioun and encrees aftir þe commying of William
conquerour by two thyngis. The firste was: by decre and ordynaunce of þe
seide William conqueror children in gramer-scolis ageyns þe consuetude
and þe custom of all oþer nacyons, here owne modre-tonge lafte and
forsakyn, lernyd here Donet on Frenssh and to construyn yn Frenssh and to
maken here Latyns on þe same wyse. The secounde cause was þat by the
same decre lordis sonys and all nobyll and worthy mennys children were
fyrste set to lyrnyn and speken Frensshe, or þan þey cowde spekyn
Ynglyssh and þat all wrytyngis and endentyngis and all maner plees and
contravercyes in courtis of þe lawe, and all maner reknygnis and countis yn
howsoolde schulle be doon yn the same. And þis seeyinge, þe rurales, þat
þey myghte semyn þe more worschipfull and honorable and þe redliere
comyn to þe famyliarite of þe worthy and þe grete, leftyn hure modre tounge
and labouryd to kunne spekyn Frenssh: and thus by processe of tyme
barbariʒid thei in bothyn and spokyn neythyr good Frenssh nor good
Englyssh.

Here’s a translated version if you don’t feel like puzzling through the Middle English:

And this corruption of Englishmen in their mother tongue, begun, as I
have said, in the every-day admixture of first Danish and then Norman,
was greatly augmented and increased after the arrival of William the
Conqueror by two things. The first was by the decree and ordinance of
the aforesaid William the Conqueror that children in the grammar
schools should leave off and forsake their own mother tongue and learn
their Donatus in French and construe it in French and do their Latin in
the same way, which is something which goes against the habit and
custom of all other nations. The second cause was that in the same
decree the sons of the lords and the children of all the nobles and
worthy men were first set to learn and speak French, before they could
speak English and that all writings and indentureships and all manner of
pleas and controversies in courts of law and all manner of calculations
and accounts in households should be done in the same (language).
And seeing this, the rural people [saw] that they might seem to be the
more esteemed and honorable and the more easily open to the
acquaintance of the worthy and the great, abandoned their mother
tongue and labored to be able to speak French: and thus in the course
of time mutilated them both and spoke neither good French nor good
English.

The translation is via these course notes (pdf), which also make interesting reading about the history of English in general (see also these pdf exercises for other quotes). 

You would think eventually we’d learn to just chill out about how people are talking. 

You would think eventually we’d learn to just chill out about how people are talking.

no you wouldn’t. cmon. how do you think sound changes spread?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s