Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
probably a less overwhelming, influence. English borrowed an immense number of words from the French of the Norman invaders, later also from the court French of Isle de France, appropriated a certain number of affixed elements of derivational value (e.g., -ess of princess, -ard of drunkard, -ty of royalty), may have been somewhat stimulated in its general analytic drift by contact with French,1 and even allowed French to modify its phonetic pattern slightly (e.g., initial v and j in words like veal and judge; in words of Anglo-Saxon origin v and j can only occur after vowels, e.g., over, hedge). But English has exerted practically no influence on French.
The simplest kind of influence that one language may exert on another is the borrowing of words. When there is cultural borrowing there is always the likelihood that the associated words may be borrowed too. When the early Germanic peoples of northern Europe first learned of wine-culture and of paved streets from their commercial or warlike contact with the Romans, it was only natural that they should adopt the Latin words for the strange beverage (vinum, English wine, German Wein) and the unfamiliar type of road (strata [via], English street, German Strasse). Later, when Christianity was introduced into England, a number of associated words, such as bishop and angel, found their way into English. And so the process has continued uninterruptedly down to the present day, each cultural wave bringing to the language a new deposit of loan-words. The careful study of such loan-words constitutes an interesting commentary on the history of culture. One can almost estimate the rôle which various
Note 1. The earlier students of English, however, grossly exaggerated the general disintegrating effect of French on middle English. English was moving fast toward a more analytic structure long before the French influence set in. [back]