March 6, 2013
The Romans invaded England, but they left relatively little impact on the language. One of the only examples, the only one I can remember off the top of my head, is –caster. For instance, as you hear in Worcestershire, Lancaster, etc. comes from the Roman word for a military encampment—'castra'. But we don't hear about any syntactical changes in the language, changes in the grammar, phonology, just a few strange words scattered here and there. And of course, they never even made it up to Ireland; they just built a wall there and called it quits.
The Norman Invasion was something else entirely. When everything changed, so to speak. Here again, we see what a difference the invader makes, what a difference in language. It became an entirely different thing, really. Old English. Middle English. Of course, I don't know the particulars of that invasion, whether they rewarded the Englishmen for speaking correctly or slaughtered them at the drop of a pin, the wound of the wrong word—what made these French invaders ultimately more successful than the Romans in the end. Perhaps the Romans simply didn't care at all. Not that language change is always a bad thing, necessarily.
For English was originally a Germanic language, and well, I guess it still is, despite all these French corruptions. But we have lost so much! The topicalization, the verb second, this way of breathing new nouns, the poetry, the poetry. It is only fitting it would come back to that in the end. I mean, isn't linguistical unity the first step toward world peace? I mean, brotherhood? Equality, liberty, fraternity? Ah, it is too bad we will have to lose all these pretty slogans!
But we cannot escape from our Mother. I mean, our Father. Our parental languages. Only a few men hold out, like wild children, hiding out there in the mountains somewhere. Somewhere up there. Delusional prophets. Maybe just rumours. Wolves. Wolves.
Someday, I would like to see Hadrian's Wall.