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CENTURY WHICH ARE NO LONGER IN USE, OR ARE
NOT USED IN THE SAME SENSE.
AND WORDS WHICH ARE NOW USED ONLY IN
THE PROVINCIAL DIALECTS.
THOMAS WRIGHT, Esq., M.A., F.S.A., H.M.R.S.L., &c.,
HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
SOME seven centuries ago, two distinct languages were spoken throughout England, the Anglo-Saxon, which was that of our Teutonic forefathers, and consequently one of the pure
Teutonic dialects, and the Anglo-Norman, one of the Neo-Latin family of tongues, which was brought in by the Norman conquest. For some time, these two languages remained perfectly distinct, the Anglo-Norman being the only one spoken or understood by the higher classes of society; while the lower classes, and a great portion of the intermediate class, used only the Anglo-Saxon. Some only of the middle classes, more especially those engaged in mercantile occupations, were acquainted with both. It was not until the thirteenth century, when the intercourse between the several classes had become more intimate, that an intermixture of the two languages began to take place, and then all the educated classes appear to have been well acquainted with both tongues. From this time forwards, an English writer, though using the Anglo-Saxon tongue, adopted just as many Anglo-Norman words as he pleased, -in fact it had assumed the character of a language of two ingredients, which might be mixed together in any proportion, from pure Anglo-Norman (pure, as regards the derivation of the words) to nearly pure Anglo-Saxon, according to the class of society for which he wrote. Thus, as late as the maale of the fourteenth century, the language of Piers Ploughman, which was designed for a popular work, contains a remarkably small mixture of Anglo-Norman words, while in the writings of Chaucer, who was essentially a Court poet, the proportion of the AngloNorman to the Anglo-Saxon is very great. Much of this AngloNorman element was afterwards rejected from the English language, bufwuch was retained, and of course a proportional quantity of Anglo