The English language begins with the phrase ‘Up Yours Caesar!’ as the Romans leave Britain and a lot of Germanic tribes start flooding in, tribes such as the Angles and the Saxons – who together gave us the term Anglo-Saxon, and the Jutes – who didn’t.
The Romans left some very straight roads behind, but not much of their Latin language.
The Anglo-Saxon vocab was much more useful as it was mainly words for simple everyday things like ‘house’, ‘woman’, ‘loaf’ and ‘werewolf’.
Four of our days of the week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were named in honour of Anglo-Saxon gods, but they didn’t bother with Saturday, Sunday and Monday as they had all gone off for a long weekend.
While they were away, Christian missionaries stole in bringing with them leaflets about jumble sales and more Latin.
Christianity was a hit with the locals and made them much happier to take on funky new words like ‘martyr’, ‘bishop’ and ‘font’.
Along came the Vikings, with their action-man words like ‘drag’, ‘ransack’, ‘thrust’ and ‘die’, and a love of pickled herring. They may have raped and pillaged but there were also into ‘give’ and ‘take’ – two of around 2000 words that they gave English, as well as the phrase ‘watch out for that man with the enormous axe.’
The Norman Conquest
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