List of English words with dual French and Anglo-Saxon variations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This List of English words with dual French and Anglo-Saxon variations describes various English words generally describing the same person, place or thing with two or more different words. After the Norman invasion of England in 1066 many of the more refined English (Anglo-Saxon) words describing finished products were replaced by words imported from Anglo-Norman (such as "beef," a prepared food). In contrast, common unfinished equivalents continued to use the native English term (such as "cow," a living animal). This replacement can be explained by the fact that meat was an expensive product at the time and that the lord and nobleman of Norman origin were eating it more often than the commoners, who were raising the livestock. This duality is also mirrored in French, where "beef" is boeuf, but "cow" is vache. These dual version words later formed the basis of the Middle English wordstock, and were eventually passed into the modern language.[1]

In some cases, these dual variations are distant etymological twins, as in cow/beef, both from Proto-Indo-European *gʷōus, but in other cases, such as calf/veal, they come from distinct PIE roots.

Generally, words coming from French often retain a higher register than words of Anglo-Saxon origin, and are considered by some to be more elaborate, sophisticated, or pretentious. Compare drink (Anglo-Saxon) and beverage (French). However, this is not always the case: weep, groom and stone (from Anglo-Saxon) occupy a slightly higher register than cry, brush and rock (from French). Words taken directly from Latin and Ancient Greek are generally perceived as colder, more technical, and more medical or scientific – compare life (Anglo-Saxon) with biology (classical compound – a modern coinage created from Greek roots).

List of English words with dual Old English/Old French variations[edit]

Foods

Anglo-Saxon Origin Words Old French Origin Words Notes
Cow (Old English ) Beef (Anglo-Norman Beof; Old French Boef) [2]
Calf (Old English Cealf) Veal (Anglo-Norman Vel; Old French Veel, Veal) [2]
Swine (Old English Swīn) Pork (Old French Porc) [2]
Sheep (Old English Scēap) / Lamb (Old English Lamb) Mutton (Old French Moton) [2]
Hen (Old English Hen, Henn) / Chicken (Old English Cicen) Poultry (Old French Pouletrie) [2]
Deer (Old English Dēor) Venison (Old Norman Venesoun) [2]
Snail (Old English Snægl) Escargot (Old Norman Escargot)

Other Words

Anglo-Saxon Origin Words Old French Origin Words Notes
Thinking, Mindful Pensive [3]
Kingly Royal [3]
Brotherly Fraternal [3]
Ask, Beseech Enquire [3]
Lord Liege
Bring, Bear Carry
Amaze, Stun Astound
Fair, Fair-haired Blond/Blonde
Uphold, Undergird, upstay Support
Smell, Stench Odor
Hue, Blee Colour
Blossom Flower
Help, Bestand, Bestead Aid, Abet, Assist
Buy Purchase
Eld Age
Belief Faith
Wonder Ponder
Selfhood Identity
Sake Reason, Cause
Weep, Sob Cry
Knowledge Science
Lawyer (A.S. lagu < O.N. lag) Attorney
Shirt Blouse
Deem Consider, Judge
Harbour Port
Hosen, Britches Pants
Sunder Sever
Answer Reply, Response
Follow Ensue
Athel Noble
Atheling Prince
Fall, Harvest Autumn
Stound Hour
Burn Broil
Leave Permission
Note Use, Utility
Seethe Boil
Hunt Chase
Bookstaf, Bookstave Letter
Wisdom Prudence
Weird, Fremd Strange
Behaviour Manner
Uncouth Rude
Owndom, Belongings Property
Steven, Reard Voice
Folk, Lede (Leod) People
Forgive Pardon
Darling Favourite
Worthy Valuable
Drought, Dearth Famine
Wish, Will, Yearning, Longing Desire
Span Distance
Tumble Somersault
Drink (noun + verb) Beverage, Imbibe
Deal Amount
Freedom Liberty
Yard Garden
Arm Poor
Haven Port

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stephan Gramley, Kurt-Michael Pätzold, A survey of modern English (Routledge, 2003) http://books.google.com/books?id=yX5mkM2_u-sC&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  2. ^ a b c d e f Transactions and proceedings of the New Zealand Institute, Volume 34, (New Zealand Institute., 1902) pp. 135–145
  3. ^ a b c d Anglo-Saxon and Latinate Words by M. Birch http://www.translationdirectory.com/article991.htm

See also[edit]