Research Paper


French Loanwords: The Constant Symbol of Sophistication Throughout the History of English


The English language is an ever-changing amalgamation of words influenced and shaped by virtually every language in the world. One such language is French. The French influence in English was primarily affected by the Norman Conquest at 1066 during the Middle English period, along with several historical events later in the Modern English period, namely the Restoration of the monarchy at 1660, 1685’s revoking of the Edict of Nantes and World Wars I and II. Apart from Latin, the French language has the largest and richest influx of loanwords in English. This French influx did not only bring along its semantic function to the vocabulary but also its association with an elite class.

The history of the French linguistic influence during the Middle English period is chronicled and the present impact and usage of French loanwords in the English lexicon is described. The reasons for this are discussed to attest that French loanwords from the Modern English period reflect the social status of French loanwords from the Middle English period.


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. heather
    Mar 15, 2008 @ 21:39:14

    Thanks for showing me this – it definitely appealed to both my love of language and my love of history. If you are particularly interested in the topic of French influence on English, I recommend that you look at Canadian English, which may have even more French words/influence than British English (and often the pronunciation is better preserved than in the UK or the US).

    nylusmilk: hmm, i’ve never considered that. if i could do an extended research on what i’ve done in this paper, i might look at it from that angle for sure. 🙂


  2. Trackback: Of grapes and language « Heather’s Random Thoughts

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