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A Short History of Anglo-French Diglossia

 
To Borrow or Not to Borrow?

On the other hand, there were authors who sought to revive older words of native stock or invent new English compounds. For example, the translators of the King James (Authorized) Version of the Bible (1611) relied mainly on native linguistic resources. According to one count, 93 percent of the vocabulary of the Authorized Version is of native word-stock (counting all the words and repetitions of the same word).

The air of dignity associated with the language of the Bible derives from the fact that it is distanced from ordinary spoken usage. This stylistic elevation is achieved, however, not by the adoption of a polysyllabic vocabulary derived from French and Latin, but rather by the use of archaism and by setting the text in the tradition of native religious discourse, particularly the sermons of the Middle Ages. It is noteworthy that already in the early seventeenth century, when it was published, the Authorized Version reflected the usage of a couple of generations before.

Highly revealing with regard to these two contrasting linguistic tendencies is the difference between the overall straightforward style of the Authorized Version and the heavy Latinate English of the Rheims or Douai Bible (1609-10) translated in Northern France by Catholic refugees, who followed the Vulgate (that is, the Latin Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church) too closely.  Such words as drunkenness, longsuffering and well pleased in the Authorized Version are rendered as ebrieties, longanimity and promerited in the Rheims Bible showing the translators' desire to follow the Latin original as literally as possible.

The critics of borrowing were often guilty of the same degree of radicalism in their linguistic explorations or prescriptions as their “pro-Latinate” opponents. The determination to avoid loan words at all cost led some of them to indulge in native coinages that to us may appear unnatural. In his translation of Matthew’s Gospel Sir John Cheke, for example, outdid the native purity of the Authorized Version itself and used words like mooned, hundreder, freshman, crossed, foresayer and byword where even the Authorized Version preferred Latinisms lunatic, centurion, proselyte, crucified, prophet and parable.

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A HISTORY OF ANGLO-FRENCH DIGLOSSIA

  Teutonic Language with a French Flair

  The Difference in Register

  What Is "Anglo-French Diglossia"?

  The "Inkhorn Controversy"

  To Borrow or Not to Borrow?

  Coping with "Hard Words"

  The Short Word vs. the Long

  The Antiquarian Movement

  From "Open" to "Hidden" Diglossia

  The Quest for "English English"

  The Drive for "Plain English"

  "Democratic" Trend in the Language

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