‘Why are there so few French place-names in England?’: An analysis of Anglo-Norman elements in English place-names as a result of the Norman Conquest

David Andrew Trotter

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Abstract

The Norman Conquest of 1066 has left a considerable mark on the English landscape (in the form of cathedrals, churches, and castles) and had a massive impact on the English language. Both of these are visible (and audible) today. It is well known that a very sizeable percentage of the vocabulary of Modern English is of French origin. What is generally realised less is the extent to which these are not loanwords in the conventional sense (that is, words incorporated from a foreign language) but terms taken over into English at a time of sustained language contact between English and French, when the two languages coexisted on English soil. Recent advances in lexicography, in the Oxford English Dictionary in particular, now make it possible to track much more precisely the processes which have led to this massive incursion of French terminology into English. Generally speaking, it is normally assumed that Anglo-Norman was a predominantly urban vernacular (Short, 2009), a view which some recent work has challenged (Rothwell 2008, 2009, 2012; Trotter 2012a, 2012b, 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-42
JournalEnglish Today
Volume30
Issue number2
Early online date08 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

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