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Old 02-08-2008, 09:22 PM posted to
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I'm reading "The Adventure of English: The Biography of A Language".

Last night I ran across this little discussion about our borrowed French
words for some foods. To simplify, for a few centuries after the Normans
invaded England in 1066, French dominated all but the lower rungs of the
social and political orders. English was the language of the farm and the
street, but French was the language of the law, the government and the
upper social classes.

(The following passage uses the English spellings of the adopted French
words it discusses.)


While the English-speaking peasants lived in small, often one-room mud and
wattle cottages, or huts, their French-speaking masters lived in high
stone castles. Many aspects of our modern vocabulary reflect the
distinctions between them.

English speakers tended the living cattle, for instance, which we still
call by the Old English word "ox" or, more usually today, "cow." French
speakers ate prepared meat with came to the table, which we call by the
French word "beef." In the same way the English "sheep" became the French
"mutton," "calf" became "veal," "deer" became "venison," "pig" "pork,"
English animal, French meat in every case.

The English laboured, the French feasted.


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