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Drakkar
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 12:56 AM
In a conversation with average Southern Americans today, we were talking about the origins of English. One girl said Latin is the base of the English Language. I corrected her that German is. Then she said that she took 5 years of "stems" class, whatever that is, and that is what she was taught. I piped in and said it actually comes from the language called Anglo-Saxon, or Old English. Then she said that Anglo-Saxon is a people, and I had to just give up. I've actually heard this a few times before. I wonder if people over in England think Latin is the root of their language? I just can't believe what people think nowadays. The language itself seems to be headed downhill in general, especially here in America. Has anyone else ever heard this?

SuuT
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 01:20 AM
In a conversation with average Southern Americans today, we were talking about the origins of English. One girl said Latin is the base of the English Language. I corrected her that German is. Then she said that she took 5 years of "stems" class, whatever that is, and that is what she was taught. I piped in and said it actually comes from the language called Anglo-Saxon, or Old English. Then she said that Anglo-Saxon is a people, and it went into a dead end. I've actually heard this a few times before. I wonder if people over in England think Latin is the root of their language? I just can't believe what people think nowadays. The language itself seems to be headed downhill in general, especially here in America. Has anyone else ever heard this?

What she means by "stems" is probably this:


About 80 percent of the entries in any English dictionary are borrowed, mainly from Latin. Over 60 percent of all English words have Greek or Latin roots. In the vocabulary of the sciences and technology, the figure rises to over 90 percent. About 10 percent of the Latin vocabulary has found its way directly into English without an intermediary (usually French). For a time the whole Latin lexicon became potentially English and many words were coined on the basis of Latin precedent. Words of Greek origin have generally entered English in one of three ways: 1) indirectly by way of Latin, 2) borrowed directly from Greek writers, or 3) especially in the case of scientific terms, formed in modern times by combining Greek elements in new ways. The direct influence of the classical languages began with the Renaissance and has continued ever since. Even today, Latin and Greek roots are the chief source for English words in science and technology.
</B>is 90, the most common score. The median (middle) score is 84.

Latin spawned Italian, French, and Spanish; with roughly 98% of the terms in those lexicons being cognate to the parent language.

Going by strict percentages, and taking into account the essentially one-way linguistic influence (Latin --> English), we will, sooner or later, have to acknowledge English as a latinate cognate that was once upon a time sister to the Germanic tounges; but is now little more than a 2nd cousin.

Drakkar
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 01:46 AM
Thanks for the stats. The number of Latin et al. words borrowed are almost incomparable to other Germanic languages. Maybe the reason it got me worked up was the fact that it's Germanic roots are being forgotten (even though very little of it is Germanic any more.)

Huzar
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 01:55 AM
Like i said in the past.......themost latinised amongst the Germanic group. The less difficult to learn for a Romance people for sure.

Matamoros
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 02:13 AM
I have come across this before - even in one of my friends who is very intelligent and has studied Latin. It took me a while to convince him that English really is a Germanic language, but thankfully he now accepts that I am right. :D

Leofric
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 07:20 AM
In a conversation with average Southern Americans today, we were talking about the origins of English. One girl said Latin is the base of the English Language.
A lot of people think that. I think it stems ultimately from the early modern philosophy that Latin was somehow superior to other languages.


I corrected her that German is.
That's not at all accurate, though. German is a modern language. English is not derived from German. English and German are both modern-day daughters grown from the same root. A lot of Germans like to act like their language is the pure source of Germanic languages, yet in many ways, theirs is the most altered by foreign influence in the whole group.


Then she said that she took 5 years of "stems" class,
Sounds like either botany or ornamental horticulture to me. Possibly a culinary course. Or maybe she was just BSing you.


Then she said that Anglo-Saxon is a people,
Sure. Like Norwegian. Or German. Those are peoples, too — and languages.




What she means by "stems" is probably this:


About 80 percent of the entries in any English dictionary are borrowed, mainly from Latin. Over 60 percent of all English words have Greek or Latin roots. In the vocabulary of the sciences and technology, the figure rises to over 90 percent.
You've got to be careful with numbers like these. What are we counting here, after all? We're counting linguistic types. But types don't all have equal influence on the sounds of a language. After all, how frequently do you hear a word like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanocon iosis compared to word like do? I bet you hear do scores of times every day, maybe scores of times every hour. Yet I bet for many, this is the first time encountering a that first monstrosity of a word. So is one of these words more representative of the language? Yes! Yet in data like these, the two words are treated as though they were equal. That's a distortion of reality.

If instead of counting types, they were counting tokens (actual occurrences of words), they would find that the percentage of Germanic words in modern English is well over fifty. In many cases in our day-to-day speech, it's quite a bit over ninety. There was a recent BBC report on that; it was discussed on Skadi, but I don't know how to get it now.



About 10 percent of the Latin vocabulary has found its way directly into English without an intermediary (usually French).
Oh, now that's just flat nonsense. The overwhelming majority of the Latinate types in English are taken directly from Latin. French has had very little influence on the English lexicon in terms of types. Only in terms of tokens has French had any significant influence on the English lexicon.


Latin spawned Italian, French, and Spanish; with roughly 98% of the terms in those lexicons being cognate to the parent language.

Going by strict percentages, and taking into account the essentially one-way linguistic influence (Latin --> English), we will, sooner or later, have to acknowledge English as a latinate cognate that was once upon a time sister to the Germanic tounges; but is now little more than a 2nd cousin.
This is riddled with inaccuracy.

First, it's impossible for a daughter language to be cognate with its own parent. Italian, French, and Spanish (as well as Portuguese and Romanian) are daughters of Latin (or of Romance, depending on how you view it); they cannot be cognate with it.

Second, basing linguistic typology on percentages of types in the lexicon is about as sophomoric as you can get. Lexical evidence is the least important for language typology. Far more important are morphology, syntax, and phonology, probably in that order. That's because these elements of the language are far less volatile than the lexicon, which is highly susceptible to borrowings. Our morphology, syntax, and phonology are thoroughly Germanic. In fact, in terms of morphology, English is the best preserver of the morphological functions of the fifteenth rune as attested in the runic inscriptions; in our syntax, we do a far better job of preserving the traditional preterites than most of our fellow Germanics (particularly the strong preterites, which are far less well preserved in the Scandinavian languages); and in terms of phonology, English is one of the few Germanic languages that has not undergone the Romance-caused loss of the utterly Germanic interdental fricatives. But even when considering lexical evidence, the best evidence to consider is in the closed classes — prepositions, conjunctions, articles, pronouns, demonstratives, and so forth. And the closed classes in English are all very close to 100% Germanic. There's no way English can be anything but Germanic.

Third, you're not even beginning to consider the differential in the size of the English lexicon compared to that of other Germanic languages. Our lexicon is far and away the largest of any IE language in Europe. Sure, we have many types of Latinate origin. But we have many many more types than any other Germanic language. We didn't drop our Germanic words when we added most of our Latinate ones — we simply added. So we can still be just as Germanic in our diction as any other Germanic language is.

Fourth, you suggest that English could cease to be cognate with the other Germanic languages. That's absurd. If it is cognate, it is cognate. End of story. A cognatic relationship is one in which two languages are descended from a common parent. That's it. No amount of borrowing can ever make a language alter its cognatic relationships. By the same token, English can never share a cognatic relationship with any Romance language. At best, it can utterly cloud the cognatic relationships in question, as has occurrred with many of the aboriginal languages of Australia. It usually takes at least 10,000 years or so for that kind of areal influence to occur. The various Germanic languages became distinct languages around 1000 ago. Give it 9,000 years and sure, we might not be able to see that English and German are daughters of the same parent. But for now, the relationship is obvious to any but the most pedestrian observer.




Thanks for the stats. The number of Latin et al. words borrowed are almost incomparable to other Germanic languages.
Do you have stats on those? I am often amazed at how frequently we use a Germanic word where other Germanic languages use a Latinate one. A quick example is write/schreiben/skrive.


Maybe the reason it got me worked up was the fact that it's Germanic roots are being forgotten (even though very little of it is Germanic any more.)
Well, like I said, close to ninety percent of what you hear all day every day when you listen to English is Germanic. I don't think that's very little at all.




Like i said in the past.......themost latinised amongst the Germanic group.
In what way is English the most Latinized. In lexical types? Maybe. Compare actual numbers of Germanic types in the various languages (rather than percentages), and see what you get. In lexical tokens? Maybe, but I doubt it. If so, the difference would likely not be statistically significant. Do you have data on the lexical tokens in the various lanaguges?

Or maybe in some real aspect of the language, since language is a whole lot more than lexicography. In phonology, perhaps? No. I think High German is. At the least, their phonological inventory has unquestionably undergone the most innovation. In morphology? Not in the least. Our morphology is pretty conservative for northern languages in the Germanic family. In syntax? I'll admit there were some concerted efforts by 18th-century pedants to Latinize our morphology. Churchill had that right: that is the sort of nonsense up with which no one should put. The syntax of regular spoken English is not Latinized really at all. It's fairly innovative in one or two areas, but that innovation is internally motivated.

In exactly what way is English the most Latinized of the Germanic languages. I've already pointed out the problem with basing such whimsical notions on percentages of lexical types. Do you have any other evidence to support your claim?


The less difficult to learn for a Romance people for sure.
How many Germanic languages have you tried to learn? German and English are the two most widely taught. German (and I'm talking about the southern variety, High German, which is the one they force you to learn) is a whole lot tougher than English. Try Norwegian — it's nice and easy, just like English is. Sure, you can't lean on Latinate borrowings to get you through, but that's better anyway. Romance speakers who rely on Latinate borrowing in English often end up making mistakes like this one I saw just the other day:

"We strongly discourage such people from joining and accommodating themselves in the forums"

That's great in Spanish. It's pitiful in English.

The Latinate vocabulary in English tricks native speakers of Romance languages into thinking they can speak English. They often end up sounding like books, at best, or making mistakes like that earlier one at worst, until they get over the deception and realize that English is not a Romance language and can't be learned like one. I see it from Romance posters on internet fora all the time.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 07:39 AM
I think what is being expressed is an attitude. My opinion is that there is a certain segment of the British population which want to minimize the Germanic contribution to that island. These types like to talk about the Romans, the Greeks, the Aenied, and bringing "culture" to Britain. If you listen to these types talk, England never existed. Britain remained a classical outpost and evolved from there. This attitude is also sometimes expressed by Americans of a similar ilk.

SwordOfTheVistula
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 07:42 AM
Yeah I have noticed the same thing, France, Italy etc are portrayed as 'high culture' and German culture is regarded as crude and low class, I am not sure how much this is related to the world wars, the norman conquest, or other sources.

Tyrson
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 08:18 AM
Mother language to most European languages is Indo-European.

She had several daughters, amongst whom Sanskrit, which gave rise to many languages spoken in India today. Another daughter is Latin, which gave rise to the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Rumanian). Greek comes from another daughter, the Celtic languages from yet another and the Eastern European languages from yet again another.

The Germanic languages are from yet another daughter. They can be divided into East, West and North. East Germanic is extinct: Gothic was the last representative of this group. It is the oldest form of written Germanic and thus still studied by students of Germanic languages today.The North Germanic languages are what we usually call the Scandinavian languages. (Finnish and Hungarian form a little language group that has nothing to do with Indo-European!)

The West Germanic branch finally "begat" Old High German which in time delivered German, English, Dutch and Frisian.

Because of all sorts of political influences, English has become highly latinised. Most of these words came into English after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The upper classes started speaking French, the lower classes kept speaking English. In the course of three hundred years or so the two slowly grew together to form a hybrid language: Middle English, basically Germanic of course, but with lots of French words (indirect from Latin) and some slight influence on the grammar.

The Scandinavians had a lot more influence on the grammar, actually. In Old English word order was by no means as important as it is today, because of the inflections. In Scandinavian languages word order is more important, because they have fewer inflections. After the Viking raids and Vikings settling in England, the language lost many of its inflections. So the Vikings too had quite a bit of influence on English as it is spoken today :)

You could say that German, English, Dutch and Frisians are brothers and sisters, the Scandinavian languages are their half-brothers and sisters. French and the other Romance languages are more like cousins.

Janus
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 08:52 AM
English is a Germanic language developed from the Germanic dialects of the Angles and Saxons which is still the root for the most important words like personal pronouns and other grammar. Grammar is almost entirely Germanic and that is,along with phonetic, what counts most for classifying a language. That the majority of the words have a Romance origin doesn't matter. It's the same way in German but to a lesser degree (60%).

Huzar
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 03:23 PM
You've got to be careful with numbers like these. What are we counting here, after all? We're counting linguistic types. But types don't all have equal influence on the sounds of a language. After all, how frequently do you hear a word like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanocon iosis compared to word like do? I bet you hear do scores of times every day, maybe scores of times every hour. Yet I bet for many, this is the first time encountering a that first monstrosity of a word. So is one of these words more representative of the language?


Ok, your note is right, but you're deliberately considerating extreme examples...an ultra-common word like "Do", in comparison to the rarest term you could find (Encyclopdical)..........you've reported two cases at the opposite extreme sides of the linguistical english spectrum, to confirm your thesis.

English language has a number of Latin words suprior to all the others Germanic languages.




.


If instead of counting types, they were counting tokens (actual occurrences of words), they would find that the percentage of Germanic words in modern English is well over fifty.


Probable, but Latin words still are a good amount of the total. More than in languages like Swedish or Danish for sure.





Second, basing linguistic typology on percentages of types in the lexicon is about as sophomoric as you can get. Lexical evidence is the least important for language typology. Far more important are morphology, syntax, and phonology, probably in that order. That's because these elements of the language are far less volatile than the lexicon, which is highly susceptible to borrowings.


Hm, good distinction. If we really want discuss seriously the linguistic, we have to separate the things and take in account these three different factors. And yes, Lexicon is the most susceptible to alterations, i agree.





Our morphology, syntax, and phonology are thoroughly Germanic.


Wait a moment..........




In fact, in terms of morphology, English is the best preserver of the morphological functions of the fifteenth rune as attested in the runic inscriptions;


Leofric..........what are you saying ? Morphology is the grammar structure, yes ?

German, is an INFLECTED language (the most famous example).....there are four cases : nominative genitive , dative, Accusative.......How can you say it's similar to English language ?? It's objectively a great difference. In this sense English language (absence of flections) is more similar to romance languages.






Third, you're not even beginning to consider the differential in the size of the English lexicon compared to that of other Germanic languages. Our lexicon is far and away the largest of any IE language in Europe. Sure, we have many types of Latinate origin. But we have many many more types than any other Germanic language. We didn't drop our Germanic words when we added most of our Latinate ones — we simply added. So we can still be just as Germanic in our diction as any other Germanic language is.


Ok, but this process is called "latinisation process" (at least in the lexicon)




By the same token, English can never share a cognatic relationship with any Romance language.


Cognatic relationship no......but latin influence yes. Not comparable to other germanic languages.




In what way is English the most Latinized. In lexical types? Maybe. Compare actual numbers of Germanic types in the various languages (rather than percentages), and see what you get. In lexical tokens? Maybe, but I doubt it. If so, the difference would likely not be statistically significant. Do you have data on the lexical tokens in the various lanaguges?



Not predominantly latinized, but surely the most latinized amongst the Germanic languages (latinisation in a relative sense, not absolute one)



In exactly what way is English the most Latinized of the Germanic languages. I've already pointed out the problem with basing such whimsical notions on percentages of lexical types. Do you have any other evidence to support your claim?


I don't need any % , Leofric. Empirical evidence demonstrate the thing. I'm a Romance native speaker and languages like German or Dutch are not comparable to Egnlish in terms of difficulty.
I can understand many things of English (even before studying it)........almost NOTHING of German or Dutch.




Try Norwegian — it's nice and easy, just like English is.


I dubt.




The Latinate vocabulary in English tricks native speakers of Romance languages into thinking they can speak English. They often end up sounding like books, at best, or making mistakes like that earlier one at worst, until they get over the deception and realize that English is not a Romance language and can't be learned like one. I see it from Romance posters on internet fora all the time.

All non native english speakers make many mistakes (germans too).

Oski
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 05:04 PM
Saying that english is a latin language is about as stupid as saying spanish is a germanic language, another useless debate (and people wonder why the taxonomy section is so popular).

Weisthor
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 09:46 PM
English language has a number of Latin words suprior to all the others Germanic languages.

This is obvious.



Probable, but Latin words still are a good amount of the total. More than in languages like Swedish or Danish for sure.

Obvious as well.



German, is an INFLECTED language (the most famous example).....there are four cases : nominative genitive , dative, Accusative.......How can you say it's similar to English language ?? It's objectively a great difference. In this sense English language (absence of flections) is more similar to romance languages.

All IE languages had declentions. And English still has many remnants of that. The north germanic influence is what got rid of most declentions in English.

Note to Leofric: Norwegian dialects have declentions too.



I don't need any % , Leofric. Empirical evidence demonstrate the thing. I'm a Romance native speaker and languages like German or Dutch are not comparable to Egnlish in terms of difficulty.
I can understand many things of English (even before studying it)........almost NOTHING of German or Dutch.

I understand many things in German and Dutch because I am a native English speaker.

Huzar
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 10:56 PM
I understand many things in German and Dutch because I am a native English speaker.



A little test : Are you able to understand a dutch newspaper without studying Dutch language ?

(for example i can substantially a French newspaper although i've never studied french language)

Drakkar
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 11:24 PM
Leofric, I in fact told her that English was Germanic; don't get me wrong here. True, many words in English are Germanic, but many words come from Latin as well. I didn't know exactly how much was borrowed, so I took any stats as an honest contribution. I orginally wanted to discuss whether other individuals had heard others speak of Latin as the real root of English, not delve into exact definitions and extreme examples that for the most part you provided (although they were interesting).

Weisthor
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007, 12:59 AM
A little test : Are you able to understand a dutch newspaper without studying Dutch language ?

(for example i can substantially a French newspaper although i've never studied french language)

Bien sûr que non, néanmoins je doute fort sérieusement que tu comprennes tout ce que tu lis en Français. Et je suis sûr que tu aurais aussi beaucoup de mal à comprendre l'Anglais tel qu'écrit par Shakespeare.

Die Französiche sprache ist auch eine schwere sprache :D

Huzar
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007, 01:52 AM
Bien sûr que non


Ok :)



néanmoins je doute fort sérieusement que tu comprennes tout ce que tu lis en Français.


I understand almost every single word, mon ami ;)



Et je suis sûr que tu aurais aussi beaucoup de mal à comprendre l'Anglais tel qu'écrit par Shakespeare.


What's the point ? Of course it's difficult to read am author of the 16th century.......




Die Französiche sprache ist auch eine schwere sprache :D


......but very pleasable :)

Dr. Solar Wolff
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007, 08:26 AM
English is a Germanic language developed from the Germanic dialects of the Angles and Saxons which is still the root for the most important words like personal pronouns and other grammar. Grammar is almost entirely Germanic and that is,along with phonetic, what counts most for classifying a language. That the majority of the words have a Romance origin doesn't matter. It's the same way in German but to a lesser degree (60%).


This sums up the facts for me. The idea that someone would think otherwise is surprising.

Huzar
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007, 09:22 AM
English is a Germanic language developed from the Germanic dialects of the Angles and Saxons which is still the root for the most important words like personal pronouns and other grammar. Grammar is almost entirely Germanic and that is,along with phonetic, what counts most for classifying a language. That the majority of the words have a Romance origin doesn't matter. It's the same way in German but to a lesser degree (60%).


I agree. Grammar is the real heart of a language......although at this point you have to admit that Romance civilisation has played an important cultural role in the Germanic world development, if 60% of German words and 80% of English words are from a Latin base.......

SuuT
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007, 09:37 PM
You've got to be careful with numbers like these.

Yes. Or they might be twisted to our own ends.


What are we counting here, after all? We're counting linguistic types.

We are counting the 80 percent of the entries in any English dictionary which are borrowed, mainly from Latin.


...So is one of these words more representative of the language? Yes!

How does one determine the representative strength of a word?


Yet in data like these, the two words are treated as though they were equal. That's a distortion of reality.

The data clearly delineates scientific nomenclature as appearing in the 90th percentile.


If instead of counting types, they were counting tokens (actual occurrences of words), they would find that the percentage of Germanic words in modern English is well over fifty.

So words like "am, is, are, was, were, have, has, had, do, does, did, can, could, shall, should, will, would" etc. define the nature of English?


In many cases in our day-to-day speech, it's quite a bit over ninety.

According to Richard E. Hodges of the University of Puget Sound in a booklet titled: Improving Spelling and Vocabulary in the Secondary School, published by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communicatiion Skills and the National Council of Teachers of English, 1982; page 30: "If you were to examine the 20,000 most used English words, you would find that about 5,000 of them contain prefixes and that 82 percent (about 4,100) of those words use one of only fourteen different prefixes out of all the available prefixes in the language."

He then goes on to list the following:

ab- (away from)
be- (on all sides, overly)
de- (reversal, undoing, downward)
dis-, dif- (not, reversal)
ex- (out of, former)
pre- (before)
re- (again, restore)
un- (do the opposite of)
ad- (to, toward)
com-, con-, co- (with, together)
en-, em- (in, into, to cover or contain)
in- (into, not)
pro- (in favor of, before)
sub- (under, beneath)

He continues later in the text: "...of the 20,000 most used English words, 67 percent...are derived from from Latin, or indisputably of semantically Latinate derivation..."



Oh, now that's just flat nonsense. The overwhelming majority of the Latinate types in English are taken directly from Latin. French has had very little influence on the English lexicon in terms of types. Only in terms of tokens has French had any significant influence on the English lexicon.



The Norman invasion provided the impetus for a huge influx of vocabulary from Normandy, France, across the English Channel into Britain.

These new words came both by way of Anglo-Norman, the dialect of Old French spoken in England by the new ruling classes, which was based on the northern variety of French; and directly from Old French itself (Old French, the ancestor of modern French, was spoken from the ninth century to roughly the middle of the sixteenth century).
It was this lexical infusion, which lasted from the eleventh to the sixth centuries, which truly laid the basis for the hybrid English language of today.

It would be useless to try to give a representative sample of the words Anglo-Norman French introduced into English, because they are so all-pervasive. From supper to justice, from action to money, from village to receive; they all came in by the thousands. Source: http://www.getwords.com/ (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.getw ords.com%2F)

Whereas Latin was a morphologically based language, English is most definately not or only slightly influenced by morphology. English has lost gender and case. Only a few words form their plurals like German (ox, oxen and child, children). Most now add an s, having been influenced by Norman French.


First, it's impossible for a daughter language to be cognate with its own parent. Italian, French, and Spanish (as well as Portuguese and Romanian)...

As well as Catalonian, Galician, Provencal, Romansh and Moldavian - we may as well complete the list, right?


...are daughters of Latin (or of Romance, depending on how you view it); they cannot be cognate with it.

Cognate means descended from the same language or form: related in origin, as certain words in genetically related languages descended from the same ancestral root; for example, English name and Latin nōmen. from L. cognatus "of common descent," from com- "together" + gnatus, pp. of gnasci, older form of nasci "to be born."
Words that are cognates are cousins, not siblings; languages that are cognatic are not necessarily siblings, though always sharing a degree of relation.


Perhaps "agnate" might be more comfortable to your ear....?

...



..., you're not even beginning to consider the differential in the size of the English lexicon compared to that of other Germanic languages. Our lexicon is far and away the largest of any IE language in Europe. Sure, we have many types of Latinate origin. But we have many many more types than any other Germanic language. We didn't drop our Germanic words when we added most of our Latinate ones — we simply added. So we can still be just as Germanic in our diction as any other Germanic language is.

Ignoratio Elenchi; Straw Man: your proving the original point - the largest linguistic contributions to English have been made via Latin; and I have not argued that we cannot be Germanic in or diction.



Your semiotic rationale is absent: Semantics is being completely ignored. Semantics takes us in to the realm of Pragmatics, organically into Cognitive linguistics; and thus into Symbolic interactionism - all where the "meat and potatoes" of this discussion would ultimately end up: language is first and foremost about meaning - only in a very sterile and academic way (read: tertiary) is language about: "(the greater impotance of) morphology, syntax, and phonology." Only by way of ignoring the fact that you do not answer to the data expressed, as it is plainly expressed, as well as the rhetorical interjections that I have observed as common to your writing style, is one able to piece together a sound argument for English as having a Germanic root; unfortunately, I am not (and as far as I can tell, neither is anyone else) arguing the contrary. Moreover, you've entered your emotional horse in the race, which blurs the logic of an otherwise fine argument, thus befuddling your rationcination; in turn, giving rise to all manner of tangential argumets agnate only to the spectre with whom you are arguing. I am also perplexed that you have put forth the argument you have as one of the three individuals at Skadi that were attempting a purge of the Latinate influence upon English so as to "restore English to its Englisc roots." - You were troubled by this influence at one time. I'm not criticising, I'm just curious as to whether or not and why you have changed your mind.

"What a man cannot state he does not perfectly know, and conversely the inability to put his thoughts into words sets a boundary to his thought... . English is not merely the medium of our thought; it is the very stuff and process of it" (Report of the Departmental Committee on the Teaching of English in England—H. M. Stationery Office: 1921: emphasis mine).

Incipit Symbolic Interationism. The very nature of how a people expresses themselves is inextripably bound to the perceived meaning of a word in human comminication. Therefore, the denotation of terminology (to which 'volitile' lexical flux arterially contributes) and the very nature of denotation itself, is fixed upon the locution of the organic etiological pathways of linguistics. Admittedly, it takes more than "the most pedestrian observer" to cognise this; however, and to simplify, the influx of Latinate contributions to every aspect of English to which it has had affect, and effect, has altered the very cognitive pathways (in a positive way) of the peoples exposed to the influx. It is upon these bases that we are able to quantify, and also qualify, English as not only Latinised; but, and rather, the most cognatic and cognatively Latin of all the Germanic tounges.

You are invited to run the etymological data on your very own post.


...I orginally wanted to discuss whether other individuals had heard others speak of Latin as the real root of English...
To answer your question more directly, Drakkar, No - I have never heard anyone attempt to argue that Latin is the real root of English. However, English is commonly described by scholars as the most 'transitional' language, and is expected in the information age to evolve/devolve (depending on one's penchant) geometrically faster that any other language in history. It's primary concomitant in the future is expected to be, of all things, Chinese.

Æmeric
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007, 09:55 PM
English is commonly described by scholars as the most 'transitional' language, and is expected in the information age to evolve/devolve (depending on one's penchant) geometrically faster that any other language in history. It's primary concomitant in the future is expected to be, of all things, Chinese.[/FONT]

English is a Germanic language, but what makes English unique is the ability to incorporate foreign words or phrases into the language with ease. Some nations such as France make an official effort to keep "foreign" words out of their language. With English it seems natural to borrow from other languages. English has been refered to as a "creole" language because of this ability.

As for the Latin contribution to English, I have an easier time trying to read French or Spanish then I do German.

Leofric
Thursday, September 6th, 2007, 05:11 AM
The West Germanic branch finally "begat" Old High German which in time delivered German, English, Dutch and Frisian.
Not at all true. OHG and NHG are in fact rather exceptional in this group.

Traditionally, these languages are classified thus:

WGmc yields OHG, Old English (OE), Old Saxon (OS), Old Low Franconian (OLF), and Old Frisian (OF).

OHG yields New High German (or simply German). OE yields English. OS yields Low German. OF yields Frisian. OS and OLF combined yield Dutch.

There is really no way English, Frisian, or Dutch could have descended from OHG.


Because of all sorts of political influences, English has become highly latinised. Most of these words came into English after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
After, yes. But it was hundreds of years after. To even mention the Norman Conquest is a bit of a red herring in the discussion. Most of the Latinate types in the English lexicon are not from French and have nothing to do with the Norman Conquest. Just like most of the Latinate types in the German lexicon (which apparently constitute most of the types in the whole lexicon) are not the result of the Norman Conquest. Rather, in both languages, they are the result of the rise of medieval Latin as a language of scholarship and international communication.


You could say that German, English, Dutch and Frisians are brothers and sisters, the Scandinavian languages are their half-brothers and sisters. French and the other Romance languages are more like cousins.
Fairly good assessment (though there is substantial debate about the extent to which the Scandinavian languages really differ from the other extant Germanic languages). By the same token, Russian, Polish and the other Slavic languages are cousins, as well as Lithuanian, Welsh, and Greek. Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, and Farsi would be, perhaps, second cousins.

Of course, the Celtic languages and the Romance languages are more similar to one another than either group is to any of the Germanic languages.




That the majority of the words have a Romance origin doesn't matter. It's the same way in German but to a lesser degree (60%).
Good point, and good datum. Thank you!




Ok, your note is right, but you're deliberately considerating extreme examples...an ultra-common word like "Do", in comparison to the rarest term you could find (Encyclopdical)..........you've reported two cases at the opposite extreme sides of the linguistical english spectrum, to confirm your thesis.
It was an illustration. The most common words in English are overwhelmingly Germanic.


English language has a number of Latin words suprior to all the others Germanic languages.
I'll say it again: English has far more words than any other European language. The English lexicon is massively, enormously, gigantically, titanically, hugely, grossly, immensely, vastly, expansively, humongously big. Sure we have more Latinate words than any other Germanic language — we have way more words than any other Germanic language. That doesn't mean we use all those words, and doesn't mean we lack the Germanic words we grew up with.


Probable, but Latin words still are a good amount of the total. More than in languages like Swedish or Danish for sure.
Not really. Darn, I wish I knew where to find that BBC report. The percentages of Germanic tokens in freely spoken, everyday English were always up around 90%. Only when they were counting tokens in high-register speeches or jargon-laden conversation did they encounter frequencies that were significantly lower, and they never got below 60%.

I'm unfamiliar with similar studies in other Germanic languages. Token frequency of Latinate words in everday speech in German would be an interesting datum to compare English to.


Hm, good distinction. If we really want discuss seriously the linguistic, we have to separate the things and take in account these three different factors. And yes, Lexicon is the most susceptible to alterations, i agree.
And therefore the least reliable in determining the genetic relationships involved.


Leofric..........what are you saying ? Morphology is the grammar structure, yes ?
I wouldn't call morphology the grammar structure. When I hear the phrase "grammar structure", I think of something more like syntax.

Morphology has to do with word formation. There are two main types of morphology: inflectional morphology and derivational morphology. Inflectional morphology includes declension and conjugation; conjugation relates to verbal inflection, while declension relates to nominal, pronominal, and adjectival inflection. Derivational morphology deals a lot with affixation to alter meaning, though that's not its only realization.


German, is an INFLECTED language (the most famous example).....there are four cases : nominative genitive , dative, Accusative.......How can you say it's similar to English language ?? It's objectively a great difference. In this sense English language (absence of flections) is more similar to romance languages.
Whoa, slow down, here!

First, German is not an inflected language. It's an analytic language. It has inflection, but the language crafts sentences by stringing together words rather than stringing together morphemes. Latin was more of an inflectional language. In fact, it's quite likely that Spanish (and probably Italian or Portuguese) is more inflectional than most of the Germanic languages. After all, I can create a dozen different sentences in Spanish that consist of just one word altered only by inflection, each one meaning something different:

Canto. ("I sing"; "Ich singe")
Cantas. ("You sing" or "Thou singest"; "Du singst")
Canta. ("She sings"; "Sie singt")
Cantamos. ("We sing"; "Wir singen")
Cantemos. ("Let's sing"; I don't know how to say this in German)
Cantaremos. ("We're going to sing" or "We shall sing"; "Wir werden singen")
Cantaste. ("You sang" or "Thou sangest"; "Du hast gesungen" or "Du sangst")
Cante. ("Sing" or "Sing, sir"; "Singen Sie")
Canté. ("I sang"; "Ich habe gesungen" or "Ich sang")
Cantaráis. ("You are going to sing" or "You shall sing" or "Ye shall sing"; "Ihr werdet singen")
Canten. ("Let them sing"; again, I don't know how to say this in German — sorry)
Cantá. ("Sing, person with whom I am not entirely intimate, but with whom I am nevertheless friendly"; this would be difficult to express in German because the du/Sie distinction, which is of Latinate origin, is so strong)


In either English or German, you have to do a lot of word-stringing to get what inflection alone can accomplish in Spanish. I think Spanish is quite a bit more inflectional a language than any Germanic language, and even Spanish is basically analytic.

But let's go beyond that. You referenced nominal inflection. (New High) German actually has less nominal inflection than English in terms of productive inflections. In both English and German, nouns can be declined for two numbers and two cases (except in a few set phrases, where other cases appear in both languages). Any given noun in English can be singular or plural, and genitive or non-genitive. In German, you can decline for singular or plural, and sometimes dative plural and sometimes genitive singular. That's about it. A maximum of four declensions for a given noun.

So for example, take a word like man in English. It has four different forms: singular non-genitive man; singular genitive man's; plural non-genitive men; and plural genitive men's. Four forms. All of them are very common, and all our nouns can do this (though some of our nouns, as in German, have zero plurals — that is, the plural and the singular are formally identical).

In German, every noun has a singular and a plural (but note the existence of zero plurals, as in English). Not all nouns have a distinct genitive singular declension (none of the feminine nouns do), and not all nouns have a distinct dative plural declension. So there are four forms, but two of them are underused. It must be said that a few nouns (like Herr do things altogether differently, but they do not represent productive morphological processes.

The nominal inflectional systems of both languages are very reduced from their earlier forms, to be sure. But if anything, English has a more robust nominal inflectional system than has German. After all, genitive inflection on nouns in English, in both plural and singular is far more common than case inflection on nouns is in German. German far more frequently uses a periphrastic genitive (which tends to sound stilted in English) for genitive singulars, just like the Romance languages do. And a large number of nouns (like all the ones that take an -n plural) have no distinct dative plural form at all. So in terms of nominal morphology, it can well be said English has preserved our common Germanic heritage better than German has.

What German has is a great deal of articular inflection. But its articular inflection isn't nearly as robust as the empty paradigm makes it look. You look at three gneders and four cases and think, "Wow! Twelve endings!" But that's not at all what you get. You only get half that. For the definites, you have der, den, dem, des, das, and die. For the indefinites, you have ein, einer, einen, einem, eines, and eine. That's it. Still more articles than we have in English. We only have two of each, and they're really just phonologically-conditioned variants of one morpheme. In that sense, to be sure, we have simplified our system more than German has.

Adjectival inflection in English might be said to have more Romance influence than does German adjectival inflection. We use periphrastic comparatives and superlatives far more than German does. It's governed by foot structure, though, so I don't know that it's due to Romance influence. And German is not devoid of periphrastic comparatives and superlatives — I've heard them plenty of times from native Germans, at least. Furthermore, German also inflects attributive adjectives without they're being comparative or superlative, which English never does. But then, adjectival inflection in the Romance languages is very active, so its absence in English can hardly be attributed to any kind of spreading from Romance. More likely, English just simplified the system the same way the Norse did.

Pronominal inflection in English is pretty comparable to (New High) German. We have only one objective case rather than two (just like Plattdeutsch), and we've merged our second person pronouns as well as the subjective and objective forms of the second person pronoun; in German they've merged the nominative and accusative cases of the 3rd person singular feminine and the 3rd person plural, where we've retained distinction. Other than all that, though, we're pretty comparable: three genders in 3rd person singular, objective and subjective distinction throughout, two numbers, &c. Both pronominal systems are quite reduced from earlier forms, but the changes in each can't well be contributed to Laitnate influence (with the the exception of the formal/informal distinction), and they're pretty common in other Germanic languages.

English has less inflection overall than German has, but it's got far less inflection than the Romance languages. You've said the Romance languages are characterized by an absence of inflection, and that simply isn't true. Romance inflection is one of the greatest challenges to a native-English-speaking learner of Romance. And in some areas (as we've seen), English has more inflection than German.

But lack of inflection cannot be attributed to Romance influence. English has quite a bit more inflection than Norwegian has (except for the fact that definite forms are marked inflectionally in Norwegian), and Norwegian has undergone far less Romance influence than English. Simplified inflectional systems are pretty common in Germanic, especially as you get further north. I like to think it's because dealing with less sunlight and harsher living conditions made the more northerly Germanics decide that worrying about how to inflect words was really a waste of energy. :D

Anyway, the whole point of the portion of my post you quoted was about the preservation of the fifteenth rune. In Modern English, 3rd person singular verbs and most plurals still take an unrhotacized /z/ ending. That's the continuation of a morpheme found in the oldest Runic inscriptions, going back to a time before the division of the living Germanic languages. And we're pretty much the only ones who still use that morpheme in its original form. The Norse still use it, but they've rhotacized it. The other Germanics don't use it much at all. But we not only use it, it's very productive in our language. That fifteenth rune shows up all over the place in English morphology, and English is exceptional among the Germanic languages for having preserved it thus. That was my point.


Ok, but this process is called "latinisation process" (at least in the lexicon)
Actually, it's called borrowing. One of the reasons why Latinization would be a misleading term for it is because the loanwords didn't, for the most part, replace the native words. They just moved in alongside them. And most of the Latinate loanwords in general English (and by calling it general, I mean to exclude jargon, which tends to be largely internationalized and specialized in any language, and which can't be said to define the language) have actually fallen out of use. The borrowing of Latinate loans was in high vogue right around Shakespeare's time — by now, most of those Latinate loans are as fashionable as 3-D movies, poodle skirts, or cars with tailfins.

Of course, you go back to manuscripts from that time and you find Latinate tokens approaching 90-95% sometimes. You can basically only read them if you know Latin. Those are a real riot to read — kind of like Dogberry from Much Ado About Nothing (or any other Shakespearean pedant).


Cognatic relationship no......but latin influence yes. Not comparable to other germanic languages.
I don't know. SuuT said (by way of quotation) that over 60 percent of English lexical types are of Greek or Latin origin. Janus said that 60% of German lexical types are of Latinate origin. That sounds pretty comparable.


Not predominantly latinized, but surely the most latinized amongst the Germanic languages (latinisation in a relative sense, not absolute one)
Only if you consider lexicon, and only if you consider it from the point of view of types rather than tokens, and only if you ignore the unbelievably large difference in the size of the English lexicon relative to those of the other Germanic languages.

In other words, English is the most Latinized Germanic language only if you ignore a lot of key data.

If you ignore the right set of other data, you find that German is clearly the most Latinate Germanic language. The difference here is that with English, you have to ignore structural data, while with German, those are the data you are more likely to consider (though you must ignore certain other structural data as well).

The upshot is, when you consider the Germanic languages holistically, you find that they're all thoroughly Germanic, despite the fact that those languages in the group that are spoken near non-Germanic languages have undergone some areal influence from their neighbors.


I don't need any % , Leofric. Empirical evidence demonstrate the thing. I'm a Romance native speaker and languages like German or Dutch are not comparable to Egnlish in terms of difficulty.

I can understand many things of English (even before studying it)........almost NOTHING of German or Dutch.

Well, I really must say that English is considerably more difficult than you think it is. But beyond that, I have invited you to compare English to the other northerly Germanic languages. English and Norwegian are quite comparable in terms of ease.

Furthermore, I daresay you are basing your judgment on the written forms of these languages. It's rather conventional in English to use (a lot) more Latinate words in writing. Try spoken English. How well do you understand spoken Scouse?

And finally, your ability to understand a given language may have a lot more to do with you than with the language under consideration. That's why I suggest we reach conclusions based on objective data rather than subjective feelings.


I dubt.
You don't need to doubt it: you can know. Go study Norwegian. See for youself how easy or difficult it is. You will find that it is much easier than the southern Germanic languages, even for a non-Germanic.

Of course, for a native speaker of English, learning Norwegian is almost as easy as learning an unfamiliar dialect of English. That's partly because English is so varied, and partly because Norwegian and English are so very similar.

It's nothing like learning Spanish, which is very much a foreign language.


All non native english speakers make many mistakes (germans too).
Sure. Of course they do. But when a German or a Norwegian makes mistakes in English, it still sounds pretty good. It never sounds bookish the way Romance speakers' mistakes so frequently do, and it usually has a pretty good ring to it. The typical mistake for a Germanic learner of English just seems kind of quaint and old-fashioned. The typical mistake for a Romance learner of English sounds more like Dogberry. And Germanics are eminently better at mastering English phonology (both at the segmental and at the suprasegmental levels) than Romance folks are.



Note to Leofric: Norwegian dialects have declentions too.
Absolutely. English morphology is more conservative than Norwegian primarily in terms of verbal morphology rather than in declension. Old Norse verbal morphology was very innovative. Of course, that had nothing to do with any Latinate influence — just as the simplification of English morphology had nothing to do with Latinate influence. Again, I like to think it's the seafaring, the harsher living conditions, and the starker extremes in daylight in winter and summer. :D




A little test : Are you able to understand a dutch newspaper without studying Dutch language ?
Yes, although it would be a lot easier if a Dutchman were to read the paper to me. Dutch spelling is kind of weird.

Frisian is a lot closer, though. There was a fellow on Skadi who said that a monolingual Frisian acquaintance of his experienced full mutual intelligibility while on vacation in England.


(for example i can substantially a French newspaper although i've never studied french language)
Now that's a feat I certainly couldn't do without learning studying French. Not even studying Spanish could give me that. But Spanish is lexically quite a bit older than French or Italian — more like Romanian (which is very old from a lexical perspective).




I orginally wanted to discuss whether other individuals had heard others speak of Latin as the real root of English, not delve into exact definitions and extreme examples that for the most part you provided (although they were interesting).
I'm taking a class in early Germanic dialects right now and one of my classmates (a graduate student) said yesterday that English was a Romance language. The professor got pretty upset about that.

Sorry for engaging in this discussion about the origins of English rather than keeping the discussion solely to ignorance of the origins of English. If you want the thread split, you're welcome to it — just say the word. I guess I got kind of carried away when I saw so much ignorance here about the origins of English. :D




I agree. Grammar is the real heart of a language......although at this point you have to admit that Romance civilisation has played an important cultural role in the Germanic world development, if 60% of German words and 80% of English words are from a Latin base.......
Well, not Romance, but Roman. The Latinate borrowing in both English and German are primarily directly from Latin rather than through any sort of Romance medium.

But it can't be denied that Romance civilization has played an important role in the Germanic world. It seems like we're always fighting among ourselves over who has the right to beat up the French. :D




English has been refered to as a "creole" language because of this ability.
The main arguments for English being a creole (and there aren't many experts who think it is) center on the blending of Old Norse and Old English. If English is a creole, it's a Germanic-based, Germanic-influenced creole.




We are counting the 80 percent of the entries in any English dictionary which are borrowed, mainly from Latin.
I know. I already said that. We're counting lexical types.


How does one determine the representative strength of a word?
By counting token frequency. I thought I had already explained this.

If you're not familiar with these uses of type and token, look at the OED: first noun entry of type, definition 8e; noun entry of token, definition 1f.

If you familiar with these uses of the words, then this is what I'm saying:

Counting lexical types to determine the foreign influence in a language is not as accurate as counting lexical tokens (i.e., token frequency).


The data clearly delineates scientific nomenclature as appearing in the 90th percentile.
Sure. That's how it is with most European languages. Since Latin was the language of scientific endeavor until quite recently, we have a lot of Latinate jargon. But as I said before, that doesn't characterize a language overall.


So words like "am, is, are, was, were, have, has, had, do, does, did, can, could, shall, should, will, would" etc. define the nature of English?
Yes! A whole lot better than words like epistemology, soteriology, or articulatory phonetics.

If you listen to English across all locations and social groups and in all settings, you'll run into a lot more ams, ises, dos, and shoulds, than you'll ever encounter epistemologys, capitulations, defenstrations, or cogitations. If you're trying to identify a language, you'll look for these little words that show up everywhere and tend to be quite distinctive.


According to Richard E. Hodges of the University of Puget Sound in a booklet titled: Improving Spelling and Vocabulary in the Secondary School, published by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communicatiion Skills and the National Council of Teachers of English, 1982; page 30: "If you were to examine the 20,000 most used English words, you would find that about 5,000 of them contain prefixes and that 82 percent (about 4,100) of those words use one of only fourteen different prefixes out of all the available prefixes in the language."
20,000!? Holy cow! That's very inclusive. Too inclusive: that's a dictionary-sized lexicon — even though it's only about 1/75th of the total size of the English lexicon.

The average person says about 15,000 tokens in one day. Now I don't know how many of those are multiple instances of the same type, but you and I know both know that no one who says 15,000 tokens in one day says 15,000 unique types.

Limit the corpus to the 2000 most common types of spoken English and you'll be a lot better off.

But even that isn't as good as simply counting token frequency in spoken English.


Whereas Latin was a morphologically based language, English is most definately not or only slightly influenced by morphology. English has lost gender and case. Only a few words form their plurals like German (ox, oxen and child, children). Most now add an s, having been influenced by Norman French.
First, go learn what morphology means. You can't speak English without morphology. That's more than slight influence.

Second, English still has gender and case. You can't speak English without them. In fact, within the 50 commonest words in English, you can find all three genders and all three cases. And, if you consider the potential for different cases remaining distinct despite being realized with identical forms (as many Germans do), then English syntax makes it clear that we have the same four cases than German has.

Third, far more words form their plurals in traditional Germanic fashion than ox and child. We also have umlaut plurals and zero plurals that are not only quite extensive, but also are mildly productive still today.

Fourth, the -s plural has nothing at all to do with Norman French. In fact, in the parts of Anglo-Saxon Britain where Norman French was most spoken, the -n plural was more common than the -s plural until about a century after Norman French was no longer spoken in Britain. The -s plural almost certainly became as extensive as it is due to internal processes. If there was any external influence, it was unquestionably due to dialectal shift from Old Norse within the Danelaw, since the -s plural was virtually as extensive in that region by 1000 AD as it is today.


As well as Catalonian, Galician, Provencal, Romansh and Moldavian - we may as well complete the list, right?
Well, that's not by any means a complete list. Furthermore, although Catalan (Catalonian is a gentile) is a distinct and sizeable language, Galician is Portuguese and Moldovan is Romanian. But you're leaving out dozens of Romance languages here. Ethnologue could open your eyes to that.

But when we discuss the Romance languages, there are five languages that are traditionally named. I felt like rounding out the pentad. After all, Romanian is critical to Romance linguistic studies and Portuguese is a major world language (more important than French and far more important than Italian).

But if you knew a bit about Romance philology, you'd already have known all that.


Cognate means descended from the same language or form: related in origin, as certain words in genetically related languages descended from the same ancestral root; for example, English name and Latin nōmen. from L. cognatus "of common descent," from com- "together" + gnatus, pp. of gnasci, older form of nasci "to be born."
Words that are cognates are cousins, not siblings; languages that are cognatic are not necessarily siblings, though always sharing a degree of relation.
I'm glad you found a dictionary. It's not giving you the best information about how the word is used in the field of linguistics, but it's better than nothing.

Of course, nothing in the dictionary definition you provide here has anything to do with languages being cognate with one another. That's unfortunate. Because my point with this was that Latin is not cognate with the Romance languages.

But that's really irrelevant. If you feel you really need instruction on that, then I would encourage you to enroll in a course in historical and comparative linguistics. You would clearly be able to learn very much indeed.


Perhaps "agnate" might be more comfortable to your ear....?
No. It's not a linguistic term. We're talking about linguistics. If you're going to try to use linguistic terms as though you know what you're talking about, then go and learn what you're talking about.


Ignoratio Elenchi; Straw Man: your proving the original point - the largest linguistic contributions to English have been made via Latin; and I have not argued that we cannot be Germanic in or diction.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.

If you had a billion dollars' income each year, and I took 75% of it away, leaving you with but 250 million to make ends meet with between January and December, you'd be all right. On the other hand, if you had ten thousand dollars' income each year, and I took but 20% of it away, leaving you with eight thousand, you'd notice the loss dearly.

Percentage matters, but size of the whole must be considered with it. If you can't see that, I don't know how to help you.


Your semiotic rationale is absent: Semantics is being completely ignored. Semantics takes us in to the realm of Pragmatics, organically into Cognitive linguistics; and thus into Symbolic interactionism - all where the "meat and potatoes" of this discussion would ultimately end up: language is first and foremost about meaning - only in a very sterile and academic way (read: tertiary) is language about: "(the greater impotance of) morphology, syntax, and phonology."
Maybe you're not aware of this, but morphology, syntax, and phonology (not as disciplines, but as objects of study) are the very mechanism by which meaning is conveyed in verbal language. Proper semantic analysis incorporates all of this; it does not bypass it. If you think you can ignore morphology, syntax, and phonology and yet somehow arrive at a full understanding of meaning, you are simply wrong. Anyone can tell you that saying "I really like dogs" is not the same as saying "I really like dog" or that "John hit Mary" is not the same as "Mary hit John" or that "thy" and "thigh" have two different meanings.

In your earlier post, you were missing some fundamental building blocks of linguistic analysis. Those needed to be brought into the discussion. Semantics can come later.

Milk before meat.


Only by way of ignoring the fact that you do not answer to the data expressed, as it is plainly expressed,
Answer to the data? What's to answer? They're being used in a very misleading fashion due to a number of fundamental misconceptions about what language is. It's more important to correct the misconceptions than to play around in the fantasy world generated by that use of those data.


as well as the rhetorical interjections that I have observed as common to your writing style,
You don't like how I write — don't read what I write. Problem solved.


is one able to piece together a sound argument for English as having a Germanic root; unfortunately, I am not (and as far as I can tell, neither is anyone else) arguing the contrary.
You probably can't so easily find a sound argument that English is Germanic in my posts because I'm not advancing any such argument. That would be pointless in this context. As you said, no one is arguing the contrary. What has been suggested is that English has undergone more Latinate influence than it actually has. I have been contending that.

Try understanding before making judgments. It's kind of fun! :D


Moreover, you've entered your emotional horse in the race,
Um, I'm afraid you're mistaken. Perhaps you're doing a bit of jockeying yourself and then doing a little projection.

I've only just now begun to get emotional in response to your attacks on me. Before then, we were talking about the topic of discussion. Now you've decided to shift the topic of conversation toward the people actually in the discussion. Only because you're taking this to a personal level am I now getting emotional.

Don't tell me — I know: it's a childish response to a childish tactic.


which blurs the logic of an otherwise fine argument, thus befuddling your rationcination; in turn, giving rise to all manner of tangential argumets agnate only to the spectre with whom you are arguing.
Again, try understanding before making judgments.


I am also perplexed that you have put forth the argument you have as one of the three individuals at Skadi that were attempting a purge of the Latinate influence upon English so as to "restore English to its Englisc roots." - You were troubled by this influence at one time. I'm not criticising, I'm just curious as to whether or not and why you have changed your mind.
If you care to remember just a little bit more, you will recall that I argued in that thread that the proper response to the Latinate influence in English was simply to stop using Latinate words. I argued that no corpus planning was necessary (which was the primary concern of the other two you speak of), since we still had a full Germanic corpus that, in fact, we used all the time. I suggested that only pedantry and pomposity spurred us to continue using Latinate words, and that when we finally accepted ourselves for who we are, we would embrace our full Germanic lexicon. They argued that the Latinate influence was too deep and too broad for such an approach. I maintained that it was not. In fact, I even stated that, given enough time, the Latinate influence would eventually go away altogether, all on its own — that all we needed to do was to help it on its way by no longer asking it to stay for just one more round of beer and skittles.

What I have been argued in this thread is no no way contrary to that.

I have not changed my mind at all. You have simply not remembered correctly.


What a man cannot state he does not perfectly know, and conversely the inability to put his thoughts into words sets a boundary to his thought... . English is not merely the medium of our thought; it is the very stuff and process of it" (Report of the Departmental Committee on the Teaching of English in England—H. M. Stationery Office: 1921: emphasis mine).

Incipit Symbolic Interationism. The very nature of how a people expresses themselves is inextripably bound to the perceived meaning of a word in human comminication. Therefore, the denotation of terminology (to which 'volitile' lexical flux arterially contributes) and the very nature of denotation itself, is fixed upon the locution of the organic etiological pathways of linguistics. Admittedly, it takes more than "the most pedestrian observer" to cognise this; however, and to simplify, the influx of Latinate contributions to every aspect of English to which it has had affect, and effect, has altered the very cognitive pathways (in a positive way) of the peoples exposed to the influx. It is upon these bases that we are able to quantify, and also qualify, English as not only Latinised; but, and rather, the most cognatic and cognatively Latin of all the Germanic tounges.
My, but you do love sophistry. Even badly misspelled sophistry.

Real English speakers, in their everyday speech, don't use many Latinate words in their communication. It happens a lot more in writing. It happens a lot more with pompous fools. It happens a whole lot more when pompous fools start writing. Surely you've read enough academic articles to see that.

But when you're hanging out with your friends, talking about all the cool things you did today, and how hot that woman is over on the other side of the room, and how you hope you don't lose your job, because you make a good living with it and it keeps your lights turned on at home, and you're really beat after putting in twelve hours at work and you can't wait to go home and hit the hay, you don't say a lot of Latin words — you say a lot of Germanic words. A whole lot of Germanic words. And that's where real human communcation happens day in and day out for all but the most pompous of fools.

So if you want to quantify how much Latin influence there is in English and how it affects the very cognitive pathways of speakers of English, then you've got to go look at real English. Real English isn't in the dictionary. It isn't in "scientific nomenclature". It isn't in hokey philosophical dissertations on semiotics.

Real English is in the mouths of Englishmen and Englishwomen, in their homes, in their streets, in their shops, at their jobs, and in their beds. That's what I'm telling you. You've got to look at how much Latin everyday folks are saying in their everyday lives. It's not much.

Like I said at the start, the BBC showed a report on someone who actually did this. I don't remember the exact figures, but the lexicon of real English (as determined by token frequency) is very Germanic.

Jäger
Thursday, September 6th, 2007, 09:33 AM
It was an illustration. The most common words in English are overwhelmingly Germanic.
Here seems to be a list, who has time and virtue might want to count :)
http://www.world-english.org/english500.htm


I'll say it again: English has far more words than any other European language.


Is it true that English has the most words of any language?

This question is practically impossible to answer, for the reasons set out in the answer to How many words are there in the English language? (http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutenglish/numberwords) However, it seems quite probable that English has more words than most comparable world languages.

The reason for this is historical. English was originally a Germanic language, related to Dutch and German, and it shares much of its grammar and basic vocabulary with those languages. However, after the Norman Conquest in 1066 it was hugely influenced by Norman French, which became the language of the ruling class for a considerable period, and by Latin, which was the language of scholarship and of the Church. Very large numbers of French and Latin words entered the language. Consequently, English has a much larger vocabulary than either the Germanic languages or the members of the Romance language family to which French belongs.

English is also very ready to accommodate foreign words, and as it has become an international language, it has absorbed vocabulary from a large number of other sources. This does, of course, assume that you ignore 'agglutinative' languages such as Finnish, in which words can be stuck together in long strings of indefinite length, and which therefore have an almost infinite number of 'words'.
http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutenglish/mostwords

SuuT
Thursday, September 6th, 2007, 07:01 PM
To Leofric,

Well, if there is anything that I have learned in the short time I have involved myself with Internet fora it is that when a moderator wishes to get away with murder, and that murder is called out by a non-moderator, the caller has either the choice of getting banned, or leaving the debate lay. - I rest my case, and leave it for the use of the discriminating and objective observer. I do believe you will make a fine linguist (or related) in short order.


English is a Germanic language, but what makes English unique is the ability to incorporate foreign words or phrases into the language with ease. Some nations such as France make an official effort to keep "foreign" words out of their language. With English it seems natural to borrow from other languages. English has been refered to as a "creole" language because of this ability.

English indeed has a rich creole history; however, I think that is fruit for another thread, and this one of Drakkar's has been rudely commandeered - I have played no small part in that. Let's hope for a split.


As for the Latin contribution to English, I have an easier time trying to read French or Spanish then I do German.

I think that new language aquisition is very relative to the individual, and even variables within that individual (age, for example); however, I would be very interested in seeing any studies that deal with what languages are easiest to learn for whom and why.

Theudanaz
Thursday, September 6th, 2007, 09:04 PM
The first non-English word (excluding "norse-derived" pronouns, they-their-them) occurs at 44 "use"; then 83 "sound", then 86 "number", 94 "people", 104 "part", 107 "place", 115 "round"... Have any good ideas for substituting english words for these? In any event, they have an english sound, not a latin or french sound.





Here seems to be a list, who has time and virtue might want to count :)
http://www.world-english.org/english500.htm




http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutenglish/mostwords

Leofric
Thursday, September 6th, 2007, 10:49 PM
To Leofric,

Well, if there is anything that I have learned in the short time I have involved myself with Internet fora it is that when a moderator wishes to get away with murder, and that murder is called out by a non-moderator, the caller has either the choice of getting banned, or leaving the debate lay.
I get so tired of your dreaming like this, SuuT.

Point to the spot in the rules where it says you can get banned for disagreeing with a moderator about linguistics:
http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=3

I see where it says you can get banned for persistent personal attacks. If, perhaps, you don't know how to debate with somebody without making completely unprovoked personal attacks against them (like you did in your response to my first post), then I can see why you would expect to get banned for arguing with me — but the same would be true for your arguing with anybody else. But as long as you keep you arguments objective, that won't be a problem.

My status as a moderator is far more meaningful to you than it is to me or anyone else on Staff. I get tired of your projecting your own insecurities about authority onto me. I'm not the evil power-monger you create for yourself in your own private imagination. I'm tired of your sinking every thread where you get into a debate with me or any other moderator to that level.



Anyway, back to the conversation:


Here seems to be a list, who has time and virtue might want to count :)
http://www.world-english.org/english500.htm

I wonder what their source for this is. I notice that numeral is 328, and that it beats out words like problem, ten, and free. I have to wonder what corpus has so many instances of numeral — I can go days or even weeks without hearing it, but I hear ten a lot twice a day, a couple hours before noon and again a couple hours before midnight.

That's just one example — the first that popped out to my attention. But it seems like they might have found a better corpus.


The first non-English word (excluding "norse-derived" pronouns, they-their-them) occurs at 44 "use"; then 83 "sound", then 86 "number", 94 "people", 104 "part", 107 "place", 115 "round"... Have any good ideas for substituting english words for these? In any event, they have an english sound, not a latin or french sound.

Good question. I don't think we should expect to get one substitute for all uses of these words. And some of them would be hard to replace. And some, though ultimately not Germanic in source, are found throughout Germanic.


round: this one is everywhere in Germanic now. It would be tough to replace. Balled might work, or a periphrastic substitution like "ball-shaped" or "like a ball". That would cover the adjective, anyway, and probably for both 3D and 2D instances.
place: n. spot, stead; v. put, stick, lay, &c.
part: bit, deal, share, cut; or more specific things like half, fourth, tenth; parts of a car could be just things or even stuff.
people: folks for the mass noun; folk for the count noun; if used as an equivalent of persons, you could say men, women, children — or just men; in some contexts, crowd would work.
number: this one is tough; tale is the old word, and you can still find it in the King James Bible at Exodus 5:8, but most folks don't think of tale as having anything to do with numbers; toll and tally are both good number words, and I think they're related to tale, but the OED disagrees with me, so I'm probably wrong there; we might just have to accept number — we certainly wouldn't be the only Germanic-language community to have an irreplacable Latinate word.
sound: din or racket are good for loud sounds; a lot of our other sound words are more specific, and could be used instead of the generic sound — whisper, song, rustle, whistle, beat, &c.; circumlocution always works, too.
use: this one is really tough — you almost have to get periphrastic with it; work with, make sth. work, let sth. do it for you; we could use a more specific word here, too, instead of the all-purpose use — instead of using a hammer, we're hammering; instead of using our minds, we're thinking; instead of using sunscreen, we're shielding our skin from the sun (or simply "putting on sunscreen").


Of course, even if we kept all these words, it would put the percentage of non-Germanic words in our top 115 at 6. Not a lot to worry about.

Æmeric
Friday, September 7th, 2007, 01:20 AM
Yeah I have noticed the same thing, France, Italy etc are portrayed as 'high culture' and German culture is regarded as crude and low class
Most words in English (probably all) that have to do with science, law, medicine or the arts, is Latin or Greek in origin. This is probably why Latin tongues are considered "haute culture", while Germanic languages are considered crude, with the exception of English which has become the international language of choice.

For many centuries, the educated classes was schooled in Latin & Greek. French was also a common language for the upperclasses & was a common diplomatic language. These were the people who wrote & could read, & who molded the language. It makes sense that Latin would have a heavy influence on English.

Drakkar
Thursday, November 22nd, 2007, 06:41 AM
From a linguistics website


At first glance, Old English texts may look decidedly strange to a modern English speaker: many Old English words are no longer used in modern English, and the inflectional structure was far more rich than is true of its modern descendant. However, with small spelling differences and sometimes minor meaning changes, many of the most common words in Old and modern English are the same. For example, over 50 percent of the thousand most common words in Old English survive today -- and more than 75 percent of the top hundred. Conversely, more than 80 percent of the thousand most common words in modern English come from Old English. A few "teaser" examples appear below; our Master Glossary or Base-Form Dictionary may be scanned for examples drawn from our texts, and any modern English dictionary that includes etymologies will provide hundreds or thousands more.

source (http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/eieol/engol-0-X.html)

sophia
Thursday, November 22nd, 2007, 06:52 AM
English is a Germanic language, but what makes English unique is the ability to incorporate foreign words or phrases into the language with ease. Some nations such as France make an official effort to keep "foreign" words out of their language. With English it seems natural to borrow from other languages. English has been refered to as a "creole" language because of this ability.

As for the Latin contribution to English, I have an easier time trying to read French or Spanish then I do German.

I read somewhere, possibly wikipedia that its easy for an English person to understand a complicated text (or get the gist of it) in French than a simple one. Which I would totally agree with, academic stuff in French I can pick up the general meaning if not the specifics quite easily. For simpler things I find it easier to understand Dutch than French.
But then I have spent a lot more time in the Netherlands than in France so maybe that's why?

Fafner
Thursday, November 22nd, 2007, 08:20 PM
Well, about the original matter Drakkar posted, It's well known that English is a Germanic language, and here in South America, when you learn a language you are often taught and remarked wich are the Germanics and the Latins.

Although English has a great influence of Latin (wich I think comes mostly from France, since the middle ages (1066?)), it has an indisputable Germanic background.

About what Æmeric said of the capability of English to "catch" words from other languages, the same happens with Spanish. It is evolving every time and it has a lot of words taken from French, Italian (specially Argentinian Spanish), German and other languages, where is also the English language (nowadays many words have been taken from English for terms of computers, but there is a huge background of words that were taken before, most of them were "Spanished" :D).

I think these kind of languages are very flexibles and that is why they are the most talked. :)