One generalization is that English terms for food on the table derive from French, e.g., pork, beef, poultry, etc. but terms for the creatures in the flesh, pig, cow, chicken favor the Anglo-Saxon or Germanic roots.
This was probably a contribution of the Norman ruling class of England, who continued to speak French for some after the conquest.
In one of our previous meanderings we addressed the fact that the famous English King "Richard the Lionhearted" was in fact known as "Richard Cour de Leon" and spoke English as a second language.
From the time of Guillaume le Conquerant (aka William the Conqueror) until now, English speakers have appropriated french vocabularies sometimes with transformation of their original meanings. I don't criticize it because it's a natural linguistic phenomenon that we can see everywhere in the world. But that's the reason why we have to be cautious when we translate French into English or vice versa. There are many faux amis.
With reference to American vocabulary, we largely owe to the French the spelling of the conventional names that are assigned to the various Native American cultures, in many cases French speaking explorers and trappers being the first Europeans to make contact as they ventured from the Northeast colonies in North America.
Terms like Iroquois, Algonquin, Sioux, Nez Perce, etc. can scarcely hide their French roots although we've modified their pronunciation to suit American English phonetics.
On the other hand, those Native Americans of the Southwest, first encountered by Spanish speaking settlers, are known to us by names derived from that language, e.g., Apache, Comanche, etc.
From the influence of Spanish culture in that region, much of our basic cowboy terminology also derives from Spanish, e. g., lasso, buckaroo (from vaquero), rodeo, etc.
Last Edit: Jun 1, 2005 8:40:14 GMT -5 by generaldu
Sigh. My heart is beating as the wings of a dying bird. Words, words, my dreadful love.
I think "The Creatures in the Flesh" should be a title for a poem.
From Dae Jang-geum: Sun-dol: "Are you trying to dry me up and kill me? Why do you say the same things over and over every day? Rather, come and hit me once! Aigu!" But then: Dr. Lazarus: "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan... You shall be avenged."