RE: How French Has Influenced English

Subject: RE: How French Has Influenced English
From: "Maxwell Hoffmann" <mhoffmann -at- globalizationpartners -dot- com>
To: <monique -dot- semp -at- earthlink -dot- net>
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2010 11:06:16 -0700

Monique, thanks for the great post. Languages have always fascinated me
(otherwise I wouldn't be working for a translation agency!) For anyone
interested in digging deeper into how language evolves and the roots of
English, I strongly recommend two books by John Mcwhorter. I include titles,
URLs and brief description from
The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John Mcwhorter

>From Booklist
This book is not for those uncomfortable with change. McWhorter's main goal
is to convey to laypeople what linguists know about the inexorable
changeability of languages. He compares our popular understanding of
language to Monopoly instructions--static and written as though "from on
high." But whereas Parkers Brothers is not likely to revise the rules of its
game, language is as transitory as a cloud formation. From this analogy,
aided by parallels with natural evolution, McWhorter shows us how the
world's many dialects arose from a single Ur-tongue. He emphasizes the idea
that "dialect is all there is." What we call a "standard language" is in
fact a dialect that has been anointed by people in power and by cultural
circumstances. All this becomes a tad academic in places, but McWhorter's
use of analogies, anecdotes, and popular culture keeps the discussion
lively. A worthy contribution to our understanding of the defining feature
of human life. Philip Herbst
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English by John

This evolutionary history of the English language from author and editor
McWhorter (The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language) isn't an easy
read, but those fascinated by words and grammar will find it informative,
provocative and even invigorating. McWhorter's history takes on some old
mysteries and widely-believed theories, mounting a solid argument for the
Celtic influence on English language that literary research has for years
dismissed; he also patiently explains such drastic changes as the shift from
Old English to Middle English (the differences between written and spoken
language explain a lot). Those who have learned English as a second language
will recognize McWhorter's assertion that "English really is easy(-ish) at
first and hard later"; for that, he says, we can "blame... the Danish and
Scandinavian" influence. McWhorter further proves his bona fides with deft
analogies, like a comparison between the evolution of English and popping a
wheelie on a bicycle; he also debunks, handily, the popular notion that "a
language's grammar and the way its words pattern reflect aspects of its
speakers' culture and the way they think." McWhorter's iconoclastic impulses
and refreshing enthusiasm makes this worth a look for anyone with a love for
the language.

Maxwell Hoffmann
Director, Multilingual Document Globalization Practice
Globalization Partners International (GPI)
Direct: +1 503-336-5952 -- Mobile: +1 503-805-3719
US Toll Free: 866-272-5874 -- Global Fax: +1 202-478-0956
GPI provides document, software and website translation/localization in over
100 languages. DTP services include structured FrameMaker DITA/XML.

-----Original Message-----
techwr-l-bounces+mhoffmann=globalizationpartners -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+mhoffmann=globalizationpartners -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot-
com] On Behalf Of Monique Semp
Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2010 7:38 AM
To: techwr-l
Subject: How French Has Influenced English

I've been trying to relearn my high-school French (from oh so many years
ago!), and recently came across this great article, "How French Has
Influenced English",

And it's timely, with its explanation of voil` (not sure if the accented a
will come through) -- pronounced "vwa la" -- (The link to this is on
page 5 of the main article.)

Happy Independence Day weekend to the US-readership, -Monique


Gain access to everything you need to create and publish information
through multiple channels. Your choice of authoring (and import)
formats with virtually any output. Try Doc-To-Help free for 30-days.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:

How French Has Influenced English: From: Monique Semp

Previous by Author: Re: References in a Word 2007 Document - Advice needed
Next by Author: RE: Mac vs PC users
Previous by Thread: Re: How French Has Influenced English
Next by Thread: Re: My Word 2007 cross-references are flippin' out: SOLUTION: WA-LA!

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads