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So you think that you are speaking English?


  • I knew English was a hotchpotch of words from German, French, Latin and (some) Greek , but not Norse. Makes sense, given that the east coast of England was settled by them for several hundred years. Nice article. As they say in Denmark; tak tac.

  • One way or another some Dutch has snuck in,as well, not surprising given the proximity. Many buildings where we live in the East of England look right at home in The Netherlands - have a look at Wisbech, for instance. Lots of Dutch has entered English via ships and sailing, even the word 'ship' is Dutch, as are parts of the sails like boom and so on. The very landscape of East Anglia is down to one Dutch civil engineer, brought over to England by Charles II to drain the fens.

    In railways - not in UK though - the van at the end of a freight train is called a caboose - from Old Dutch Kabhuijs - another nautical structure.

    I recommend a number of books on the subject, if you are in any way interested - Melvin Bragg's book - 'The Adventure of English' and Bill Bryson's amazingly funny 'Mothertongue' are just two.


  • I read Mother Tongue about 20 years ago, I subsequently read that some of the stuff in it isn't exactly correct, but it is a very entertaining read all the same.