English Language "autopsy” ! A meticulous examination..

Fabian B aus D   Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:15 am GMT
Furthermore, I forgot to mention, I've learnt Latin, French and Spanish at school. So you could say that I have a certain knowledge of romanic languages.

Claro que aprendí inglés y alemán también en el instituto.
Sander   Wed Aug 03, 2005 9:50 am GMT
=>I am only joking Sander…I know that! :-)
I was speaking about the English vocabulary, primarily Latin (the body of English) not the Grammatical Structure or Language Family…which is obviously Germanic…
I apologise anyway! <=

Ah,that's not neccesairy, ;) The most suprising about English,is that in it's classification,nothing points towards the enormous latin influence.


Travis   Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:20 am GMT
I would make a slight modification to the above, and would put the taxonomy of English as:


or if one considers English and Scots as a distinct subbranch of the Anglo-Frisian languages, separate from the Frisian languages:


One note on why I did not place an item "Low" under "West" above is because taxonomically "Low" would be paraphyletic, considering that the Anglo-Frisian West Germanic languages split from the "Continental" West Germanic languages *before* the "Continental" West Germanic languages split into "Low" and "High" branches. This is despite the fact that phonologically, the Anglo-Frisian languages are all "low", because "lowness" is defined as simply the absence of "highness", due to being conservative rather innovative in nature. Hence, any taxon based purely on "lowness" alone would inherently be paraphyletic in nature.
Sander   Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:28 am GMT
=>I would make a slight modification to the above, and would put the taxonomy of English as:<=

No,you shoulden't, Anglo-Frisian isn't correct, Anglic was the dominant language among the angloSaxons.The frisians were a minority compared to the Angles,Saxons and Jutes.
Travis   Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:44 am GMT
One should not confuse the composition of overall settler population with the actual language that the overall group ended up speaking in the end. Specifically, it has been shown that cladistically, English and the Frisian languages are closer together than they are with the rest of the West Germanic languages, low or high, the superficial similarity of modern West Frisian with Dutch aside. The similarity of modern West Frisian to Dutch is not due to it being actually descended from historical Low Franconian, but rather due to areal influence from Dutch. Actually, the cladistically closest continental West Germanic language to the Frisian languages, as well as English and Scots, would probably be Low Saxon, not Dutch. That said, there was significant direct influence on what became Old English from Old Saxon, but Old English still ended up sharing specific features with Old Frisian which it did not share with the rest of the West Germanic languages. For example, both Old English and Old Frisian shared the palatalization of historical /k/ in certain phonological environments, as evidenced by words such as English "cheese" and West Frisian "tsiis", as opposed to Dutch "kaas" and Low Saxon "kees".
Sander   Wed Aug 03, 2005 11:07 am GMT
I disagree with Travis, Dutch is closest to West Frisian and it's certainly not just superficial similarity.When you compare old Dutch and old Frisian you see tremendous similarities.

Ill get back on this later on.
Travis   Wed Aug 03, 2005 4:13 pm GMT
One thing you must remember, though, is that practically all of the "old" Germanic languages were rather similar to each other, especially when one disregards the East Germanic languages. Remember that Old English and Old Norse were to a moderate degree crossintelligible during the period of Scandinavian colonization in Britain, even though they were in completely separate main branches of the Germanic languages. Furthermore, Old English and Old Saxon were, through the middle of the Old English period, rather crossintelligible, to the level that many Christian missionaries in Saxony (present day Neddersassen (in Low Saxon) or Niedersachsen (in German)) were from England and spoke their native Old English dialects there. Hence, it would not be surprising at all that Old Dutch and Old Frisian would be quite close together. But the fact of the matter is that Old Frisian still shares innovations with Old English that neither share with Old Dutch or Old Saxon, such as palatalization of /k/ in certain phonological environments, usually associated with adjacent front vowels.
Kazoo   Wed Aug 03, 2005 11:14 pm GMT
I'm guessing that Romanian has not had much contact with English as spoken between native speakers in an informal setting. The reason I say this is that words of Germanic origin overwhelmingly pre-dominate casual spoken English between native English speakers. If you are only speaking about intellectual English, then, words of Romanic origin pre-dominate, but intellectual English is completely different from casual spoken English. Native English speakers don't sound like that when they talk to each other.

By the way, I like English as it is, with all it's influences, I'm not at all against any English being viewed as a 'Latinized Germanic Language'. I'm just saying that you can't judge English by how it is formally written and spoken, because that is not how English is spoken the vast majority of the time.
Dieter   Thu Aug 04, 2005 12:01 am GMT
{{words of Germanic origin overwhelmingly pre-dominate casual spoken English between native English speakers. If you are only speaking about intellectual English, then, words of Romanic origin pre-dominate}}

Yes, I agree with you Kazoo, but I am learning English to help me in Business and other intellectual English to help me in life , I am not learning English to chat with my neighbour in casual informal (Germanic) English.

So I guess , Romanian is right about the importance of the vocabulary of English being mostly Latin. As a German speaker I found English vocabulary very unfamiliar despite being a Germanic language.

{{I do not care about what percentages of English are of Romantic or Germanic origin}}

I do care , because English is not my native language and other than gramar and language origin, English is nothing like german or Germanic. I speak some Italian and believe it or not, italian helped me a lot to improve my English vocabulary, more than german ! And for a non native English speaker vocabulary is very important.

Romanian, I gues your right but don’t forget that English is classified as Germanic language no mater how smart you are !

So please don’t argue with me ! I am german but I have a good sense of humor :-)

Ok Dracula ?
greg   Thu Aug 04, 2005 5:02 am GMT
Kazoo : heureusement que le fond germanique subsiste de manière notable dans la langue anglaise parlée de tous les jours ! Le contraire serait alarmant... La question n'est pas tant de savoir si l'anglais est une langue germanique ou latine puisque la réponse est évidente : l'anglais est une langue germanique qui a subi une dégermanisation partielle et une latinisation massive.

Même en retenant les estimations les plus optimistes - à savoir 70 % de vocables germaniques dans l'anglais parlé en général, il reste quand même 30 % de mots français ou latins, ce qui est énorme. Surtout quand on considère que les Romains ont quitté la Grande-Bretagne il y a fort longtemps et qu'un faible contingent de Français ou de francophones est parvenu à changer pour toujours la physionomie du vieil-anglais par leur seule présence.

La comparaison entre l'influence franque sur la langue française et l'influence française sur la langue anglaise est fort instructive.
Kazoo   Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:13 pm GMT
All I'm saying is that the spoken language amongst native speakers is how a language should be judged, not by a version of the language that is used only in certain situations for a certain purpose.
Guest   Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:34 am GMT
<<"The entire army on the continent was in a fase of fatigue."

After many atempts of many people, my conclusion was that in most cases when you Germanisize Latin words in English,they tend to sound 'simple' and stupid.Many of the posted ideas had Latin words in them the final result was this:

"The whole blob of fighters on the big land thingy was feeling tired"

And "tired" isn't Germanic.So in many cases it's impossible. ">>

Hows this? 'The whole body of troops on the mainland was feeling tired'?

I know 'troop' was borrowed from Old French but it is a Germanic borrowing into French therefore not a Latin word. It is cognate with the English word 'Thorp'.

Why is 'tired' not Germanic? Granted it has no cognates outside of English but it was present in Old English, so, it is a native word and of course Germanic.

Guest   Mon May 29, 2006 11:33 am GMT
<<Je suis sûr qu'on peut latiniser la phrase de Travis encore davantage.

Exemples :
remplacer An <main> par An <chief>/<principal>
An <fall under> par <are included/classified in>
etc etc.>>

Yes, but one could also further Germanize or English the writing depending on which words people will choose to use.

JGreco, the main thing one must bear in mind is that Tongue taxonomy is grounded on what tongues are borne from, not what tongues may to the naked eye seem like, as the skin-deep characteristics of a tongue fall under tongue typology rather than taxonomy. With heed to taxonomy, English and, say, Icelandic are far nearer to each other than, say, English and Mandarin, which are wholly not akin to each other, even though typologically todays English is in many ways more like Mandarin than Icelandic. Likewise, as much as English has taken on great heaps of Romance loans, that makes it no more a Romance tongue if only for English has come from a shared Teutonic forbear rather than from Low Latin.

In the above text, the number of Romance words has been reduced from 23 to 6. It just depends on the words people choose.
Ed   Sat Jul 08, 2006 1:09 am GMT
We had a similar thread before. The similarity of many English words to Latin or Greek cognates is often simply because if you go back far enough English, Latin and Greek share a common ancestry. This though is often erroneously jumped on by those who assume the words came to us from Latin.

This was the research I did into some English words that were supposedly derived from Latin:


My Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives the following information about the words you gave, and they do not all suggest a direct link with Latin at all (please note, I know I haven't represented some characters correctly, such as non-Latin alphabit characters and some diacritics):

STAR: Old English steorra = Old Frisian stêre, Old Saxon sterro, (Dutch ster), Old High German sterro :-West Germanic sterro, with parallel formation in Old High German sterno (German stern), Old Norse stjarna, Gothic stairnô :- Germanic sternôn; from Indo-European ster- represented by Latin stella. (Therefore, it would seem that the similarity between star and stella is due to the common ancestry of the Romance and Germanic languages from the ancient Indo-European language)

MANY: Old English manig, monig, later maenig, corresponding to Old Frisian man(i)ch, monich, menich, Old Saxon manag, Middle Dutch menech, Dutch menig, Old High German manag, menig (German manch), Old Norse mangr (Old Swedish mangher), Gothic manags :- Germanic managaz. (Again, not from Latin)

ARROW: Late Old English ar(e)we, Old Norse arw, related to Gothic arhwazna :- Indo-European arkw whence Latin arcus (Again, the Germanic and Romance words share a common ancestry in Indo-European, rather than English having imported the word from Latin)

NIGHT: Old English niht, Anglic naeht, neaht = Old Frisian, Middle Dutch nacht, Old Saxon, Old High German naht (Dutch, German nacht), Old Norse natt, nott, Gothic nahts :- Indo-European nokt, respresented also by Latin nox. (Again a common Indo-European ancestry)

LIGHT: Old English leoht, Anglic liht = Old Frisian liacht, Old Saxon, Old High German lioht (Dutch, German licht) :- West Germanic leuxta :- Indo-European leuktom from leuk-, louk-, luk- represented in Greek leukos (white) Latin lux (Another Indo-European word rather than a Romance borrowing)

MOTHER: Old English modor = Old Frisian, Old Saxon modar (Dutch moeder), Old High German muotar, (German mutter), Old Norse modir :- Germanic modar :- Indo-European mater whence also Latin mater, Sanskrit matr (Indo-European word rather than Romance borrowing)

SIX: Old English siex, syx, seox, sex = Old Frisian sex, Old Saxon, Old High German sehs (Dutch zes, German sechs), Old Norse sex, Gothic saihs :- Germanic seks varing with Indo-European sweksand represented by Latin sex.

RED: Old English read = Old Frisian rad, Old Saxon rod (Dutch rood), Old High German rot (German rot), Old Norse raudr, Gothic raups :- Germanic raudaz :- Indo-European roudhos Cf. Latin rufus, ruber (Ancient Indo-European word)

CATCH: Middle English cac(c)h, Anglo-French, Old Northern French cachier, variant of Old French chacier (modern chasser), Roman captiare, replaced captare.(Wow, one that came directly from Latin!)

WINDOW: Middle English windoze, Old Norse vindauga, from vindr (wind) (Nothing to do with Latin fenestra)

Guest   Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:11 am GMT
<<We had a similar thread before. The similarity of many English words to Latin or Greek cognates is often simply because if you go back far enough English, Latin and Greek share a common ancestry. This though is often erroneously jumped on by those who assume the words came to us from Latin.>>

Quite right. In the orignal text that started this topic I found no fewer than 14 errors. There are bound to be some similarities because of Indo-European roots, moreso when it comes to very basic words such as Mother, Father, Night etc. Not all similarity between languages is down to borrowing. Sometimes it seems like there is a movement to try and group English as a Romance language which is quite clearly isn't.

These are the errors I found.

Main = O.E Maegen
One = O.E An, NOT 'un'.
Are = O.E Earun, Aron, NOT 'etre'.
Not = O.E Naht, NOT 'non'.
Seem = O.N Soemam, NOT 'sembler'.
as = O.E Alswa, NOT 'aussi'.
in = O.E In, 'NOT LATIN 'in'.
ways = O.E Weg, NOT 'Vias'.
many = O.E Manig, NOT 'multi'.
more = O.E Mara, NOT 'maggior' or 'mas'.
much = O.E Micel, NOT 'mucho'.
it = O.E Hit, NOT 'id' or 'ille'.
no = O.E Na,
rather = O.E Hrathor NOT 'quelque' or 'poter'.

How one could get 'rather' from 'quelque' or 'poter' I don't know. It is almost as bad as trying to say 'window' came from 'fenestra'. :)