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la langue anglaise

This article is the written script of an episode from our podcast series: Kandelaa – Conversations.

( Bu yazı,  podcast serimiz Kandelaa – Conversations’tan alınan bir bölümün yazılı metnidir. )

La Langue Anglaise.

In other words, the English language.


Isn’t it perfectly common and as much normal to see languages, as an expected consequence of sprawling through the continents, finally become quite medley and highly influenced? Well, I’m sure you can name a few even on your own once you hear this. In essence, languages are the communication tools at hand of people, and since they tend to be the primary…. They’re used against novelty to name it, humankind expresses what is found, and what is to scatter through them.

I am personally quite keen on exploring new languages and basically, the depths of which I already know. Not only does it ease the correlation process that you may later refer to while analyzing any tongue you learn; but you can also figure out more about certain people’s cultures, which would give you significant insights into their mentality, or beliefs as much.

As I mentioned above, one can speak of the impacts- which are eventual- he or she observes in the languages they conserve. Arabic and Persian’s loanwords in Turkish, the contribution of French similar to theirs- not only in terms of the words but also the closeness of the pronunciation style to its original form: the English said: shın for “tion”, Germans went for a similar one to French: tsion, by attaching the n to the end rather than silencing it, and we, Turkish preferred “siyon”, which is a near version, per se. Still, that was minor of all the transferal. It is possible to touch on many others.

Today’s topic is English itself, and why it would be useful to learn its relation to French. French lent many words from different terminologies of various disciplines; it gave to Europe, Asia, and even Far East. However, their share with English throughout the centuries and their admirable affiliation deserve, for me, reference: how French beget a considerable part of the thesaurus in English, and how the other way round happened as well.

Today, folks, we talk about La Langue Anglaise.


To begin with, the lexical resource would be the primary item that comes to mind for discussing such a concept; nevertheless, I think it’d be boring and bland to only talk about the total number of the vocables. That’s fine, yet superficial. A language itself does not only borrow small bricks to construct its sentences on them; we can follow the changes in the tone of speech (in aural ways, not rhetorically).

As you may probably know previously, English comes from a different language tree than French, the Germanic language family, and once upon a time was harsher (though relatively), more like an old Germanic tongue in regards to its sound: * something in the old Germanic*

Personally, I like that characteristic.

Centuries passed and it underwent certain alterations. The intonation softened; the R started to drop in several places, and a few sounds have silenced. This is what I say for the English English, even though there are the regional dialects within England, and the Gaelic fellows have their own original way, I describe a typical British English that you would remember. The Queens’ English is just a remarkable example.

Contrary to the popular belief, the speaking style of Shakespeare was not the Queen’s English, having looked at that era. Furthermore, some crucial features were just getting to be brought into English, as he invented brand-new words, did polish and retouch, and improved an important part of it. He was speaking Early Modern English.

However, the greatest alterations happened in English after The Norman Conquest, which broke out due to unkept promises to the duke of Normandy, a country in the other side of the English Channel, now a region in France. There are a couple of guys you’ll hear several times in this episode, so try to keep in mind their names. The reign of King Edward the Confessor was lasting in England when Vikings’ military and political muscle was nothing to underestimate as well.

Edward, having fine relationships with William the Bastard, leads him to expectations of potential power, and as much likely a throne. Shame for him, in a political field in which there appears no certain guarantee of words, King Harald II – Edward’s brother-in-law- was crowned as the King of England.

William was not the only one concerned; as mentioned above, the Viking king ( Harald III ) seemed indeed eager to be the ruler of England. These events engendered two different battles, and what we’ll emphasize is the Norman Invasion, a trophy of William of Normandy.

The victory caused what was more than a reign change: the whole English language would get affected by the dominance of French that was to start being rigidly used by the English nobility. Rigid I say because even though the Anglo Saxon ( another name for the Old English) would slowly acquire the loanwords from French, the other way round didn’t happen: the rulers and nobles weren’t really enthusiastic about understanding English. William himself was included too. This dialect incrementally surrogated English in such positions.

Rulers have a superior position of importance since they are closely concerned with the administration of a country, right? Yeah, so these in power brought in the strong words like “jury, judge, evidence, crown, castle. What was a bit outstanding was that this class was now using another tongue in the same country, 90% of which consisted of peasants who were maintaining the Anglo-Saxon language.

Conspicuous differences were noticeable: The Normans were “posher” and more “élite” in some perception; Anglo Saxon peasants might have named the animals “cow, sheep, and pig”, but Normans would have preferred their dinner to comprise “beef, mutton, and pork”; the earls were counts, There aren’t sufficient resources about how much the Norman French permeated through the lower classes.

Another significant point is that during this time, some letters began to drop while pronouncing. K, for instance, as in knife or know, is not read. The French influence changed the spelling system, there are now 44 different sounds in English for pronunciation. Surely, French wasn’t the only factor in this case. The language had been getting affected for years. Celts, for example, shared their unique way of using “do” in English, so that these are now the only two documented tongues in the entire world that use it before a verb, to form a question, and to apply a negative meaning:

What do you think? I do think / I do not think. An Anglo-Saxon speaker might have found such a method quite odd, but nowadays we operate that as a rule in our speech. In German, the thing is more different: “Denkst du?” The verb comes in the beginning, and that’s all. The other Germanic dialects would agree with that. I believe we’ve found another point that proves the process English has undergone.

I’ve enumerated some words like “judge” being a gift vocable. That’s true, but the root is originally from Latin: jus (law) + dicere (to say) merged into judex, to become juge in French and finally place itself as “judge” in English. Additionally, one can mention Latin and its contributions separately, given the domain of the Roman Empire in history. Most Latin words settled in English later than the Norman Conquest, so that French -a Latin descendant tongue- not in all the situations had to be the mediator. “ad hoc, Mortis causa, et cetera (itself)” are phrases borrowed from Latin.

Nowadays, somewhat 40% of English is of French origin, being more than the Anglo-Saxon language, and potentially capable of enhancing the likelihood of internalizing French quicker for an English speaker than other Germanic dialects. Nevertheless, since it’s highly dependent on people themselves, the opposite situation is possible to see. To meet a common ground, we can compromise upon that lexical inventory in English appears to be identifiable and intellectual to French speakers, whereas German still owns more of fraternal nature to it.


la langue anglaise: İngiliz Dili (fransızca) 

to spawl: yayılmak

humankind: insanoğlu

affiliation: ilişki, üyeliğe Kabul

to pronounce: telafuz etmek

(to) influence: etki (mek)

documented: kayda geçirilmiş

odd: acayip, kusur, tek sayı

nowadays: günümüzde

vocable: sözcük, seslendirilebilir

to agree on something: bir konuda katılmak

to prove: kanıtlamak

additionally: buna ek olarak

contributions: katkılar

domain: nüfuz alanı

descendant: neslinden olan, torun, alçalan (sıfat)

mediator: aracı

likelihood: ihtimal

to meet a common ground: ortak paydada buluşmak

to compromise: uzlaşmak

lexical: anlamsal, sözcüksel

thesaurus: kelime haznesi

fraternal: kardeşçe, kardeşlere ait

to undergo: atlatmak, geçirmek, maruz kalmak

to internalize: özümsemek

pronunciation: telafuz

noticeable: fark edilebilir

peasants: köylüler

unique: eşsiz

resource: kaynak

primary: başlıca

item: madde