Anglais sans Française

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From the Christian Science Monitor: English Sans French.

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You can't tell me that a good part of those rewrites didn't sound better, Paul! This is why decent poets in the English tradition try to cut out Latinate words in favor of the Anglo-Saxons roots, so much more forceful and more striking.

And how can you not grieve that very few people can appreciate that last song anymore?

Sumer is icumen in,

Lhude sing, cuccu!

Groweth sed and bloweth med

And springth the wude nu.

Sing, cuccu!

Chaucer was able to take the growing hodgepodge of tongues from the Saxons and their French overlords that was the middle English and give it some standing, making "He was a verray parfit gentil knyght" sound natural in our ears, but I grieve for that lost tongue, of which we only hear brief echoes.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on March 16, 2003 5:05 PM.

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