posted on Jun, 13 2020 @ 09:39 PM
The French Middle Age Specialist and Linguist Andre Crepin considers that the term "Anglo-Norman" is not quite correct, because William didn't speak
the English or pure Franco-Norman language.
William's court spoke several languages. The nobles spoke Franco-Norman and Central French (Literary, Parisian French) The mass of ordinary people
used Franco-Norman, Picardian, Walloon, and Flemish idioms. Consequently, the Franco-Norman language comprised Old French filled with vocabulary from
the Old Scandinavian languages brought by the Vikings into Normandy.
The Franco-Norman language differed fundamentally from the Central French language ("francien")used in Paris and spoken in Île-de-France and its
surrounding areas. This influence was caused due to an enormous Germanic impact on the Franco-Norman dialect. Aristocrats, officials, translators,
lawyers, and scientists spoke literary French.
The omnipresence of the Franco-Norman language has become one of the most important consequences of William the Conquerer's invasion.
In the X-XI centuries, Franco-Norman developed into the Anglo-Norman. The latter took the role of the language for the English nobility, business, and
For a while Anglo-Norman and a local Anglo-Saxon language develop separately, then, intermarriages become more frequent and the languages start to
Linguists class this period as a period of emerging of Middle English (1100). The Middle English period in the history of the English language lasted
till the beginning of the XVI century.
Around 65,000 people followed William from France to England.
Lands of the English nobility were scattered to the Normans, the Lorrainers, the Flemish, the Bretons, and some other Englishmen supporting their new
governor. Almost all English nobility died at the Battle of Hastings. Throughout twenty years of ruling, William has become one of the most powerful
and richest western kings. The Anglo-Saxone elite was completely defeated by the Norman one. Starting from 1066 and during three centuries in a row,
English kings chose spouses of French origin. From Henry II of England (Plantagenet) till Henry IV of England (Lancaster), wives dowered enormous
territories and the French language of their courts. Thirteen English queens born in France made a great contribution making French an official
language of elite and administration.
William dismissed English prelacy and abbots to the advantage of the Norman archbishops. An archbishop who didn't speak French could have a reputation
for "know-nothing and incompetent ".
Starting from the XIII century, the prestige of the Anglo-Norman dialect is diminishing in England and being interpreted as obsolete and clumsy. From
XIII century till XV century the main dialect is Literary or Parisian French. Parisian dialect strengthened its influence after the events of 1204.
John Lackland (Plantagenet) (1167 – 1216) surrendered Normandy, Maine, Anjou to the French King, Philip II Augustus (Capet). Around 1250, two
centuries later the Norman invasion, knowledge of French has become obligatory for not only the nobles, but also for representatives of the middle
class in England. Its knowledge guaranteed successful work and trade. Since 1258 till 1362 the French language saw its rise. After the invasion of
William the Conquerer, Middle English got around 1,000 Norman words. In the XIII-XIV centuries around 10,000 French words became progressively used by
By the middle of the XIII century, the French language had dominated the field of justice and administration in England.From the 12 century until the
15 century, the courts used three languages: Latin for writing, French as the main oral language during trials, and English in less formal exchanges
between the judge, the lawyer, the complainant or the witnesses. The judge gave his sentence orally in Norman, which was then written in Latin. Only
in the lowest level of the courts were held trials entirely in English. Almost all lawyers and judges were arriving from France. Numerous privileged
families sent their children for study in French cities or French-speaking schools in England. Knowledge of the French language became essential for
communication in palaces of archbishops.
In many cities, important trade centers people with Norman names (for example. William, Robert, Henry, Alice, Matilda) were the most prominent
townsmen and probably constitute the majority of the trade class.
Although being very prestigious, the French language failed to substitute completely the Anglo-Saxon dialects , which were native for 95% of the local
population. English remained the vernacular of the common people and peasants throughout this period. The Latin language remained the language of the
Church and consequently of education and historiography, and was used for the purpose of records. Latin also remained in use in medieval England by
the royal government and some local administration. Herewith the Anglo-Saxon language fell into disuse as a written language. Nearly 85% of the
Anglo-Saxon vocabulary was forgotten.
Events of the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), conflict of interest for the territories of the New World's burst the feeling of national identity among
the English. The English bourgeoisie rebelled against the dominance of the French language and demanded to draw legal acts in English. The Soviet
Linguist and Philologist V. D. Arakin considers that the French language started to lose its power and respect among the Nobles around 1258. In that
year King Henry III made a speech to his subjects in both languages . Throughout several years local population of England began to perceive the
French language as something hostile. Many Englishmen were making attempts to speak their native language but still didn't know enough to be able to
express themselves. The French vocabulary left its traces and was much closer and comprehensible for the English. Later the French language was still
predominantly used in the field where it didn't give up its position: commerce, justice, literature.
In the XIV century, one third of the population died from the outbreak of the bubonic plague. Hundreds of monks, main teachers of French, were touched
by this disease. Moreover, the shortage of rural population dramatically changed the situation on the labour market letting peasants claim better life
conditions from the French-speaking lords. This fact also brought the French language into discredit.
By the end of the XIV century, the English language had come back to schools, courts, and the Parliament. More precisely, in 1362 the Parliament made
a decision to hear all cases in English from that day and onward. Besides, having ascended the throne in 1399 King Henry IV of England Bolingbroke
(1366-1413) was the first English ruler since the Norman Conquest whose mother tongue was English rather than French.
In the XV century, the English language had a determined orthographic norm. By the end of the XVI century, Modern English had become the language
spoken by William Shakespeare. There haven't been any crucial amendments to the phonetics and grammar of the English language. Nevertheless, the
vocabulary passed through certain change.