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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

224                The Loom of Language
accommodate itself to a world of familiar things for which the Saxon
poets had no names Investment in trading enterprise fostered a new
sort of class collaboration depicted in Chaucer's Canterbwy Tales, and
a new type of litigation with an English-speaking clientele In 1362
Edward III ordered the use of English in the courts, though the
written law of the land was French till the eighteenth century
In contiadistmction to Old bnglidi, the purely Teutonic language of
Alfred the Great., the English of this period, that of Chaucer and of
Wychff, is called Middle bnghdi Scholars refer literary remains to the
Middle period if written between about A.D 1150 and 1500 The process
of assimilating words of Latin origin received a new stimulus from the
rise of classical scholarship at the end of the middle, and has been
nuised through the modern, period by the growth of scientific know-
ledge One result is that English in its present form has an enormous
range of couplets, one member Teutonic like forgive, the other Latin
or French like pardon. Usually the Teutonic one is more intimate,
the Latin formal, because Teutonic words are the language of the
countryside, Latin or French words the prerogative of lawyers, priests,
and scholars Thus Wamba the jester in Ivanhoc points out that the
ungulates (tficcp, pig, calf, ox) have native names while it is still the
business of the English people to look after them. When they reach the
table of the Norman overlord they have become mutton,, pork, veal.,
beefy for which the corresponding French words are mouton, pore, vcait,
bosuf
Relatively few people learn lists of new words with case, unless they
can connect them with familiar facts, and an adult who has already
collected a variegated vocabulary is m a strong position to take advan-
tage of this hybrid character oi modern English. To become language-
conscious in this way we need to know something about the regularities
of sound-change which have been mentioned in the last chaptcr(p 185),
and we need a few hints which help us to detect when an Anglo-
American word is Teutonic or Latin* This can be done by following
up clues suggested m Chapteis II and V, The spelling of a word is
often a sufficient signpost of its origin, especially if we know a little
about the sound-changes which have occurred in the history of the
Teutonic and Latin families*
How the sounds/lifts mentioned m Chapter V help to build up word
associations is illustrated by the German word Teil (part) or its deriva-
tive verb teilen (separate, divide, distribute, share). Old Teutonic words
which begin with the d sound begin with the t sound in modern Ger-