Pidgin English

yalda   Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 01:04 GMT
Mjd your answer is here. if you can read in French :

l'anglais, mal parti mais si bien arrivé
Les origines de l'anglais sont multiples, et peu claires. L'anglais n'a pas de langue mère ; il est le résultat de la cohabitation plus ou moins forcée de nombreuses ethnies constamment envahies par les peuplades les plus diverses aux origines les plus variées. Malgré son lourd handicap historique, cette langue a su s'enrichir au point de devenir la plus efficace et la plus puissante sur la scène internationale. C'est grâce à l'esprit de liberté avec lequel ses peuples locuteurs l'ont adaptée à une incroyable diversité de situations, et faite évoluer pour eux au niveau pratique, et non pas par rapport à un idéal théorique.

mjd   Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 02:42 GMT
Well I can't read French, but I ran it through a translator and I got the gist of it. Thanks.
Clark   Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 04:05 GMT
Ryan, the English people simply adopted words that their Norman-French-speaking lords spoke. There was not loss of vocabulary; simply borrowing of vocabulary. There were not enough Normans in the country to make communication a problem because the English people kept their Saxon language, and adopted words that were better in some way.

Another language like English (or so I have read), is Armenian. At one point, linguists though this language was a dialect of Persian because of all of the loan-words. But like English, Armenian simply borrowed words.

The English people borrowed French words to speak to the Normans, but the Normans soon spoke English within 300 years of invading England.
to Yalda   Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 05:20 GMT
yes, flexibil and pratical. That's how I can define Egnlish language in two words and that's why I like to learn English. English borrows from everywhere and doesn't frown on any words or languages. That's what makes it rich and strong. You won't find any other language with this singularity.
Ryan   Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 05:24 GMT
Words weren't lost? I'm sure there are plenty of words that were "lost" from Saxon to Old English as the native Britons adapted Norman French words. I think you may have seen simplification as English became a more grammatically simple language compared to other Germanic languages in the face of Norman French. Britons could no longer communicate to Normans in more complicated Germanic forms that would be completely foreign to their conquerors.

Different linguists argue different definitions of pidgins and creoles. Some stress that the pidgin must be passed on from parent to offspring for it to be a true pidgin, others don't. I would argue that there must have been some kind of pidgin that the "upper-class" of native Britons spoke to their Norman overlords, and that this language was most likely passed on to their children, thus creating a pidgin. However, at the same time, the common people spoke their normal Saxon and just borrowed some Norman words as you say. However, the languages of the British upper-class eventually passed down to the lower classes through a social process and an English with a definite Romance influence was created.

Not every member of a society needs to be in contact with a foreign language for pidgins and creoles to be created. That's not the way that language transformation and spread normally works.
Simon   Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 15:19 GMT
North Germanic (Scandinavian) languages also seem to have simple grammar.

You only need a word for a concept when you use it. I imagine that the amount of French words in English is due to the place in Norman England of the English language. Compare Charles V's remark about speaking German to his horse. For example, the native English never 'invited' people. They just said "Hey, mate. Do you want to come round to mine for dindins". But if he wanted to speak about an invitation, he needed to call it something, so he used the French word, as only the French were posh enough to invite people.
Simon   Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 15:21 GMT
Compare the use of "language" and "tongue".

Languages are respectable, tongues are primitive and uncouth.
Jim   Wednesday, October 22, 2003, 06:42 GMT
Simon, your language is respectable but I'd not be surprised if your tongue were primitive and uncouth. I hope you keep it in your mouth where it belongs at all times.
Simon   Wednesday, October 22, 2003, 14:40 GMT
Yes, exactly. Curiously, "langage" (the original French word) could probably be translated as "tonguing" which sounds positively obscene!
Clark   Wednesday, October 22, 2003, 22:44 GMT
Ryan, when I say there was no loss of vocabulary, I should have said that the English vocabulary lost words, but regained three times as many French words. And the English words may have been "lost," but "replaced" is a better word I think. French words replaced native English words, and then there were so many French words added.
Simon   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 06:46 GMT
A lot of these words didn't get lost - They merely became obscure like "welkin".
Simon   Thursday, October 23, 2003, 07:41 GMT
Anyway, I didn't know pidgins spoke English, unless "coo!" counts as English...