cose da condividere

more than a romance


William I the Conqueror, Bayeux Tapestry.

In September I joined a Latin course. I thought it would be a good thing to refresh my rusty Latin now that I teach Italian. I have to say, it’s funny to discover how in your adult life you can enjoy a subject that used to be your worst nightmare at 13!

One of the highlights of this experience was definitely to be reminded of how English is so close to Latin too: not so much in the grammar, but in its vocabulary. English displays a wonderful mix of Latin and Germanic terms thanks to its history, and this is for sure one if its beauties.

Following the end of the Roman rule in Britain, Latin remained as the language of the church, partially interacting with Anglo-Saxon. Then, when the Duke of Normandy, aka William the Conqueror took England in 1066, he introduced French as the language of royalty. French-speaking kings ruled the country for 350 years and their language blended into Middle English giving it a vast portion of its Latin-related terms and making it a very enriched language. It is through Germanic Middle English that we have words like kingly, and it is through Latin and French that we have words like royal or sovereign. How fascinating is this?

Sometimes the stories behind words are just amazing, you just need to uncover the layers. For example: the words duke, duce (Italian), duchy, duchess, doge (ruler of the Republic of Venice), ducat, viaduct, conductor (ecc.) all have something in common and yes, it has to do with Latin: all these terms contain the root of the verb dūco, dūcere meaning ‘to lead’, you may also think of the word dux meaning ‘leader’ in Latin.

Learning about these connections is a great way to see how two seemingly separate cultures are actually sharing more than one would normally think: it’s in the words we use everyday.

Categorised as: Languages

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