full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Kate Gardoqui: How did English evolve?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

I am going to start with a challenge. I want you to imagine each of these two scenes in as much detail as you can. Scene number one: "They gave us a hearty welcome." Well, who are the people who are giving a hearty welcome? What are they wearing? What are they drinking? OK, snece two: "They gave us a cordial reception." How are these pepole stdnanig? What expressions are on their faces? What are they wearing and drinking? Fix these pictures in your mind's eye and then jot down a scentene or two to describe them. We'll come back to them later. Now on to our story. In the year 400 C.E. the Celts in biriatn were rleud by Romans. This had one benefit for the Celts: the rmnoas poeretctd them from the barbarian Saxon tribes of Northern euorpe. But then the Roman Empire beagn to crumble, and the Romans withdrew from Britain. With the Romans gone, the Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians quickly sailed across the water, did away with the Celts, and formed kingdoms in the British ielss. For several centuries, these terbis lived in Britain, and their Germanic language, alngo Saxon, became the common language, what we call Old English. Although modern eglisnh speakers may think Old English sounds like a different lagnguae, if you look and listen closely, you'll find many words that are rglbnocaziee. For example, here is what the Lord's Prayer looks like in Old English. At first glance, it may look unfamiliar, but update the spelling a bit, and you'll see many common English words. So the centuries passed with Britains happily speaking Old English, but in the 700's, a series of Viking invasions began, which continued until a treaty split the island in half. On one side were the Saxons. On the other side were the dneas who spoke a language called Old nsore. As Saxons fell in love with their cute Danish neighbors and marriages blurred the boundaries, Old Norse mixed with Old English, and many Old Norse words like freckle, leg, root, skin, and want are still a part of our language. 300 years later, in 1066, the Norman conquest brought war again to the biirtsh Isles. The Normans were Vikings who settled in France. They had abandoned the Viking language and culture in favor of a French lifestyle, but they still fuhgot like vkignis. They placed a Norman king on the English throne and for three centuries, fenrch was the language of the British royalty. Society in Britain came to have two levels: French-speaking aristocracy and Old English-speaking peasants. The French also brought many ramon Catholic clergymen with them who added Latin words to the mix. Old English adapted and grew as thousands of words flowed in, many having to do with government, law, and aristocracy. Words like council, marriage, sovereign, govern, damage, and pmlreainat. As the language expanded, English speakers quickly rzaeiled what to do if they wanted to sound sophisticated: they would use words that had come from French or Latin. Anglo Saxon words seemed so plain like the Anglo Saxon peasants who spoke them. Let's go back to the two stcneeens you thought about earlier. When you pictured the hearty welcome, did you see an earthy scene with relatives hugging and talking loudly? Were they drinking beer? Were they wrnieag lumberjack sirths and jeans? And what about the ciodarl reception? I bet you pictured a far more csslay and refined crowd. barelzs and skirts, wine and caviar. Why is this? How is it that phrases that are considered just about smyounonys by the dictionary can evoke such different pictures and feelings? "Hearty" and "welcome" are both Saxon words. "Cordial" and "reception" come from French. The connotation of nobility and authority has persisted around words of French origin. And the connotation of peasantry, real people, salt of the Earth, has persisted around saoxn words. Even if you never heard this htrsioy before, the memory of it persists in the feelings evoked by the wodrs you speak. On some level, it's a stroy you already knew because whether we realize it ccnosisoluy or only subconsciously, our history lives in the words we spaek and hear.

Open Cloze

I am going to start with a challenge. I want you to imagine each of these two scenes in as much detail as you can. Scene number one: "They gave us a hearty welcome." Well, who are the people who are giving a hearty welcome? What are they wearing? What are they drinking? OK, _____ two: "They gave us a cordial reception." How are these ______ ________? What expressions are on their faces? What are they wearing and drinking? Fix these pictures in your mind's eye and then jot down a ________ or two to describe them. We'll come back to them later. Now on to our story. In the year 400 C.E. the Celts in _______ were _____ by Romans. This had one benefit for the Celts: the ______ _________ them from the barbarian Saxon tribes of Northern ______. But then the Roman Empire _____ to crumble, and the Romans withdrew from Britain. With the Romans gone, the Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians quickly sailed across the water, did away with the Celts, and formed kingdoms in the British _____. For several centuries, these ______ lived in Britain, and their Germanic language, _____ Saxon, became the common language, what we call Old English. Although modern _______ speakers may think Old English sounds like a different ________, if you look and listen closely, you'll find many words that are ____________. For example, here is what the Lord's Prayer looks like in Old English. At first glance, it may look unfamiliar, but update the spelling a bit, and you'll see many common English words. So the centuries passed with Britains happily speaking Old English, but in the 700's, a series of Viking invasions began, which continued until a treaty split the island in half. On one side were the Saxons. On the other side were the _____ who spoke a language called Old _____. As Saxons fell in love with their cute Danish neighbors and marriages blurred the boundaries, Old Norse mixed with Old English, and many Old Norse words like freckle, leg, root, skin, and want are still a part of our language. 300 years later, in 1066, the Norman conquest brought war again to the _______ Isles. The Normans were Vikings who settled in France. They had abandoned the Viking language and culture in favor of a French lifestyle, but they still ______ like _______. They placed a Norman king on the English throne and for three centuries, ______ was the language of the British royalty. Society in Britain came to have two levels: French-speaking aristocracy and Old English-speaking peasants. The French also brought many _____ Catholic clergymen with them who added Latin words to the mix. Old English adapted and grew as thousands of words flowed in, many having to do with government, law, and aristocracy. Words like council, marriage, sovereign, govern, damage, and __________. As the language expanded, English speakers quickly ________ what to do if they wanted to sound sophisticated: they would use words that had come from French or Latin. Anglo Saxon words seemed so plain like the Anglo Saxon peasants who spoke them. Let's go back to the two _________ you thought about earlier. When you pictured the hearty welcome, did you see an earthy scene with relatives hugging and talking loudly? Were they drinking beer? Were they _______ lumberjack ______ and jeans? And what about the _______ reception? I bet you pictured a far more ______ and refined crowd. _______ and skirts, wine and caviar. Why is this? How is it that phrases that are considered just about __________ by the dictionary can evoke such different pictures and feelings? "Hearty" and "welcome" are both Saxon words. "Cordial" and "reception" come from French. The connotation of nobility and authority has persisted around words of French origin. And the connotation of peasantry, real people, salt of the Earth, has persisted around _____ words. Even if you never heard this _______ before, the memory of it persists in the feelings evoked by the _____ you speak. On some level, it's a _____ you already knew because whether we realize it ___________ or only subconsciously, our history lives in the words we _____ and hear.

Solution

  1. fought
  2. shirts
  3. protected
  4. vikings
  5. romans
  6. blazers
  7. people
  8. cordial
  9. standing
  10. language
  11. realized
  12. anglo
  13. history
  14. parliament
  15. tribes
  16. consciously
  17. began
  18. sentences
  19. wearing
  20. danes
  21. british
  22. britain
  23. ruled
  24. speak
  25. saxon
  26. scene
  27. french
  28. recognizable
  29. norse
  30. classy
  31. words
  32. roman
  33. europe
  34. story
  35. synonymous
  36. sentence
  37. isles
  38. english

Original Text

I am going to start with a challenge. I want you to imagine each of these two scenes in as much detail as you can. Scene number one: "They gave us a hearty welcome." Well, who are the people who are giving a hearty welcome? What are they wearing? What are they drinking? OK, scene two: "They gave us a cordial reception." How are these people standing? What expressions are on their faces? What are they wearing and drinking? Fix these pictures in your mind's eye and then jot down a sentence or two to describe them. We'll come back to them later. Now on to our story. In the year 400 C.E. the Celts in Britain were ruled by Romans. This had one benefit for the Celts: the Romans protected them from the barbarian Saxon tribes of Northern Europe. But then the Roman Empire began to crumble, and the Romans withdrew from Britain. With the Romans gone, the Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians quickly sailed across the water, did away with the Celts, and formed kingdoms in the British Isles. For several centuries, these tribes lived in Britain, and their Germanic language, Anglo Saxon, became the common language, what we call Old English. Although modern English speakers may think Old English sounds like a different language, if you look and listen closely, you'll find many words that are recognizable. For example, here is what the Lord's Prayer looks like in Old English. At first glance, it may look unfamiliar, but update the spelling a bit, and you'll see many common English words. So the centuries passed with Britains happily speaking Old English, but in the 700's, a series of Viking invasions began, which continued until a treaty split the island in half. On one side were the Saxons. On the other side were the Danes who spoke a language called Old Norse. As Saxons fell in love with their cute Danish neighbors and marriages blurred the boundaries, Old Norse mixed with Old English, and many Old Norse words like freckle, leg, root, skin, and want are still a part of our language. 300 years later, in 1066, the Norman conquest brought war again to the British Isles. The Normans were Vikings who settled in France. They had abandoned the Viking language and culture in favor of a French lifestyle, but they still fought like Vikings. They placed a Norman king on the English throne and for three centuries, French was the language of the British royalty. Society in Britain came to have two levels: French-speaking aristocracy and Old English-speaking peasants. The French also brought many Roman Catholic clergymen with them who added Latin words to the mix. Old English adapted and grew as thousands of words flowed in, many having to do with government, law, and aristocracy. Words like council, marriage, sovereign, govern, damage, and parliament. As the language expanded, English speakers quickly realized what to do if they wanted to sound sophisticated: they would use words that had come from French or Latin. Anglo Saxon words seemed so plain like the Anglo Saxon peasants who spoke them. Let's go back to the two sentences you thought about earlier. When you pictured the hearty welcome, did you see an earthy scene with relatives hugging and talking loudly? Were they drinking beer? Were they wearing lumberjack shirts and jeans? And what about the cordial reception? I bet you pictured a far more classy and refined crowd. Blazers and skirts, wine and caviar. Why is this? How is it that phrases that are considered just about synonymous by the dictionary can evoke such different pictures and feelings? "Hearty" and "welcome" are both Saxon words. "Cordial" and "reception" come from French. The connotation of nobility and authority has persisted around words of French origin. And the connotation of peasantry, real people, salt of the Earth, has persisted around Saxon words. Even if you never heard this history before, the memory of it persists in the feelings evoked by the words you speak. On some level, it's a story you already knew because whether we realize it consciously or only subconsciously, our history lives in the words we speak and hear.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
saxon words 3
british isles 2
english speakers 2
anglo saxon 2

Important Words

  1. abandoned
  2. adapted
  3. added
  4. angles
  5. anglo
  6. aristocracy
  7. authority
  8. barbarian
  9. beer
  10. began
  11. benefit
  12. bet
  13. bit
  14. blazers
  15. blurred
  16. boundaries
  17. britain
  18. britains
  19. british
  20. brought
  21. call
  22. called
  23. catholic
  24. caviar
  25. celts
  26. centuries
  27. challenge
  28. classy
  29. clergymen
  30. closely
  31. common
  32. connotation
  33. conquest
  34. consciously
  35. considered
  36. continued
  37. cordial
  38. council
  39. crowd
  40. crumble
  41. culture
  42. cute
  43. damage
  44. danes
  45. danish
  46. describe
  47. detail
  48. dictionary
  49. drinking
  50. earlier
  51. earth
  52. earthy
  53. empire
  54. english
  55. europe
  56. evoke
  57. evoked
  58. expanded
  59. expressions
  60. eye
  61. faces
  62. favor
  63. feelings
  64. fell
  65. find
  66. fix
  67. flowed
  68. formed
  69. fought
  70. france
  71. freckle
  72. french
  73. frisians
  74. gave
  75. germanic
  76. giving
  77. glance
  78. govern
  79. government
  80. grew
  81. happily
  82. hear
  83. heard
  84. hearty
  85. history
  86. hugging
  87. imagine
  88. invasions
  89. island
  90. isles
  91. jeans
  92. jot
  93. jutes
  94. king
  95. kingdoms
  96. knew
  97. language
  98. latin
  99. law
  100. leg
  101. level
  102. lifestyle
  103. listen
  104. lived
  105. lives
  106. loudly
  107. love
  108. lumberjack
  109. marriage
  110. marriages
  111. memory
  112. mix
  113. mixed
  114. modern
  115. neighbors
  116. nobility
  117. norman
  118. normans
  119. norse
  120. northern
  121. number
  122. origin
  123. parliament
  124. part
  125. passed
  126. peasantry
  127. peasants
  128. people
  129. persisted
  130. persists
  131. phrases
  132. pictured
  133. pictures
  134. plain
  135. prayer
  136. protected
  137. quickly
  138. real
  139. realize
  140. realized
  141. reception
  142. recognizable
  143. refined
  144. relatives
  145. roman
  146. romans
  147. root
  148. royalty
  149. ruled
  150. sailed
  151. salt
  152. saxon
  153. saxons
  154. scene
  155. scenes
  156. sentence
  157. sentences
  158. series
  159. settled
  160. shirts
  161. side
  162. skin
  163. skirts
  164. society
  165. sound
  166. sounds
  167. sovereign
  168. speak
  169. speakers
  170. speaking
  171. spelling
  172. split
  173. spoke
  174. standing
  175. start
  176. story
  177. subconsciously
  178. synonymous
  179. talking
  180. thought
  181. thousands
  182. throne
  183. treaty
  184. tribes
  185. unfamiliar
  186. update
  187. viking
  188. vikings
  189. wanted
  190. war
  191. water
  192. wearing
  193. wine
  194. withdrew
  195. words
  196. year
  197. years