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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Georgina.

  • dne mergen! Mé lícap pé tó métanne!

  • I beg your pardon, Neil? Is something stuck in your throat?!

  • Are you speaking a foreign language?

  • Ha! Well, actually Georgina, I was saying, 'Good morning,

  • pleased to meet you' in English - but not the English you and I speak.

  • That was Anglo-Saxon, or Old English, the earliest form of English,

  • spoken in the Middle Agesso, between the 5th and 15th century.

  • It doesn't sound anything like the way people talk nowadays.

  • No, but it's surprising how many of the words we use today

  • have survived from Old Englishbeer, wine, drink, fish, bread, butter, eye,

  • ear, mouth, head, hand, foot, life, love, laughter, mother, daughter,

  • sister, brother, son, fatherall Anglo Saxon words!

  • Wow, so many everyday words!

  • But what about the classics - Latin and Greek?

  • I thought a lot of English vocabulary came from there.

  • That's also true, but the history of English is the history of invasions

  • you know, when the army of one country fights to enter and

  • control another country.

  • Like the Roman invasion of Britain?

  • Right, and later invasions too, by Norse-speaking Vikings

  • and Germanic Saxons.

  • In fact, Georgina, that reminds me of my quiz question.

  • Go on then, but in modern English if you don't mind

  • OK. Well, the year 1066 is remembered for a famous battle

  • when the French-speaking Norman king, William the Conqueror,

  • invaded Englandbut what is the name of the famous battle?

  • Is it: a) The Battle of Waterloo?, b) The Battle of Hastings?,

  • or, c) The Battle of Trafalgar?

  • Hmm, my history's not great, Neil, but I think it's,

  • b) The Battle of Hastings.

  • OK, Georgina, we'll find out 'later' - another Old English word there!

  • But it's not just words that survive from Anglo Saxon,

  • it's word endings toothe suffix, or letters added to the

  • end of a word to modify its meaning.

  • Right, like adding 's' to make something plural,

  • as in: one bird, two birds.

  • Or the 'ness' in 'goodness' and 'happiness'.

  • And 'dom', as in, 'freedom' and kingdom'.

  • Poet Michael Rosen is fascinated by Old English.

  • Here he is talking about word suffixes to Oxford University

  • professor Andy Orchard for BBC Radio 4's programme, Word of Mouth.

  • Listen out for the proportion of modern English that comes

  • from Anglo Saxon.

  • 'I walked' – that 'walked' the 'et' bit on the end.

  • Yeah, the 'ed' ending.

  • Most modern verbsif we were to say, 'I texted my daughter',

  • I mean text obviously comes from Latin… 'I tweeted' –

  • we still lapse to the Anglo-Saxon.

  • And, generally when I'm speaking, just let's do it in mathematical terms,

  • what proportion can we say is Old English?

  • Can we say, like, about 80% in common parlance,

  • sorry to use a French word there?

  • In speech it would be something like that

  • in the written language, less.

  • They're the basic building blocks of who we are and what we think.

  • Professor Orchard estimates that 80 percent of spoken English

  • in common parlance comes from Anglo Saxon.

  • In common parlance means the words and vocabulary that

  • most people use in ordinary, everyday conversation.

  • So Anglo Saxon words are the building blocks of English -

  • the basic parts that are put together to make something.

  • He also thinks that the languages we speak shape

  • the way we see the world.

  • Here's Michael Rosen and Professor Andy Orchard discussing

  • this idea on BBC Radio 4 programme, Word of Mouth:

  • Can we say that English speakers today, as I'm speaking to you now,

  • view the world through Anglo-Saxon eyes, through Anglo-Saxon words?

  • Can we say that?

  • Well, in Old English poetry it's always raining and I suppose it's

  • always raining today.

  • There is a retrospective element, that we're still inhabiting that

  • worldview, those ideas; the same words, the same simple ideas

  • that they inhabited.

  • And what's extraordinary if you think about the history of English is

  • despite the invasions by the Norse and by the Norman,

  • and then despite the years of empire when we're bringing things back,

  • the English that we're speaking today is still at its root

  • Old English word, at its heart Old English word, still very much English.

  • Michael Rosen asks if English speakers see the world

  • through Anglo Saxon eyes.

  • When we see something through someone's eyes,

  • we see it from their perspective, their point of view.

  • And Professor Orchard replies by saying that despite all the

  • history of invasion and empire, the English we speak today is still

  • Old English at heart – a phrase used to say what something is really like.

  • Wow! So much history crammed into six minutes!

  • And now, time for one more history fact.

  • Do you mean your quiz question, Neil?

  • What's the name of the famous battle of 1066?

  • What did you say, Georgina?

  • I said b) The Battle of Hastings.

  • Which wasthe correct answer!

  • The Battle of Hastings in 1066 played a big part

  • in the Norman Conquest and mixing French words into the language.

  • And I also know how the English ruler, King Harold, died

  • shot through the eye with an arrow!

  • Ouch!

  • OK, let's recap the vocabulary, some of which exists

  • because of invasionswhen one country enters and controls another.

  • A suffix is added to the end of a word to make a new word.

  • The phrase in common parlance means using ordinary, everyday words.

  • Building blocks are the basic parts used to make something.

  • To see things through someone's eyes means, from their point of view.

  • And finally, at heart is used to say what something is really like.

  • That's all for this programme.

  • Join us again soon at 6 Minute English but for now,

  • 'far gesund!' – that's Old English for 'goodbye'!

  • Far gesund!

Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

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B1 saxon anglo battle georgina orchard hastings

Is English really English? 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/04/01
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