The Duality of English

  • 73
  • 6
  • 1
  • English 
May 16, 2018 22:11
Hi, everyone! I wanted to write an entry in English today about an interesting phenomenon within the English language.

A language's development relies heavily on history. For example, Japanese has had strong influences from China throughout history. This is why Japanese uses kanji characters, which also have 音読み.

English is, by definition, a Germanic language. But, in history, England was at some point invaded by French-speaking people. French is a "romance language" with deep roots in Latin. For a long time, French-speaking aristocrats ruled over Germanic/Old English-speaking peasants.

This is why English oftentimes has two (or more) ways of saying the same thing.

And usually, the word with the Germanic-root is often seen as more basic, easy, or even vulgar; the Latin-derived root is usually seen as more formal, sophisticated, or advanced. (This is not always true, though.)

Below is a list of related words that have both Germanic and Latin roots in English. The words are either synonyms (=) or related concepts (-->).

GERMANIC = or --> LATIN (original Latin word)

Tooth --> dental, dentist ("dente")
Water --> aquatic, aqua ("aqua")
Earth --> terrestrial, terrain ("terra")
Answer = response ("responsum")
Ask = inquire ("inquaerere")
Behavior = action ("actio")
Ache, hurt = pain ("poena"), agony ("agonia")
Begin, start = commence ("cominitiare")
Believe, belief = creed, credible ("credere")
Big = large ("largus")
Dad --> paternal ("pater")
Mom --> maternal ("mater")
Bug = insect ("insectum")
Build = contstruct ("cosstruere")
Baby = infant ("infans")
Dog = canine ("canis")
Grim = grave ("gravis")
Eat = consume ("consumere"), ingest ("ingestus")
End = finish ("finire")
Feeling = sensation ("sensus")
Wage = salary ("salarium")
Understand = comprehend ("comprehendere")

And many more!

So, next time you learn you wonder why English has two words for "wish" and "desire," or "sight" and "vision," consider this interesting dual nature of English!