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French and Latin words was, then, firmly established in the fourteenth century, and when in the sixteenth century there was a great revival of Greek studies in England, the close literary relations between Greece and Rome facilitated the adoption of a considerable number of words from the Greek. Linguistic processes are cumulative; one does not stop when another begins. Hence we find all of these influences active in increasing the modern vocabulary. In particular, the language of science has looked to Greece for its terms as the language of abstract thought has drawn its nomenclature from Latin.
It would, however, be a great mistake to suppose that all our “popular” terms are of native origin and that all foreign derivatives are learned. The younger and less cultivated members of a community are naturally inclined to imitate the speech of the older and more cultivated. Hence, as time has passed, a great number of French and Latin words, and even some that are derived from the Greek, have made themselves quite at home in ordinary conversation. Such words, whatever their origin, are as truly popular as if they had been a part of our language from the earliest period.
Examples of such popular words of foreign derivation are the following:
From French: army, arrest, bay, card, catch, city, chase, chimney, conveyance, deceive, entry, engine, forge, hour, letter, mantle, mason, merchant, manner, mountain, map, move, navy, prince, pen, pencil, parlor, river, rage, soldier, second, table, veil, village.
From Latin: accommodate, act, add, adopt, animal, anxious, applause, arbitrate, auction, agent, calculate, cancer, circus, collapse, collision, column, congress, connect, consequence, contract, contradict, correct, creation, cucumber, curve, centennial, decorate, delicate, dentist,
describe, diary, diffident, different, digest, direct, discuss, divide, educate, elect, emigrant, equal, erect, expect, extra, fact, genius, genuine, graduate, gratis, horrid, imitate, item, joke, junction, junior, major, magnificent, medicine, medium, miser, obstinate, omit, pagan, pastor, pauper, pedal, pendulum, permit, picture, plague, postpone, premium, prevent, prospect, protect, quiet, recess, recipe, reduce, regular, salute, secure, series, single, species, specimen, splendid, strict, student, subscribe, subtract, suburb, suffocate, suggest, tedious, timid, urge, vaccinate, various, ventilation, veto, victor, vim, vote.
From Greek: anthracite, apathy, arsenic, aster, athlete, atlas, attic, barometer, biography, calomel, catarrh, catholic, catastrophe, catechism, caustic, chemist, crisis, dialogue, diphtheria, elastic, encyclopedia, hector, homeopathy, iodine, lexicon, microscope, monotonous, myth, neuralgia, panic, panorama, photography, skeleton, strychnine, tactics, telegraph, tonic, zoölogy.
No language can borrow extensively from foreign sources without losing a good many words of its own. Hence, if we compare the oldest form of English (AngloSaxon) with our modern speech, we shall discover that many words that were common in Anglo-Saxon have gone quite out of use, being replaced by their foreign equivalents. The "learned” word has driven out the "popular" word, and has thereupon, in many cases, become “popular” itself. Thus instead of A.S. herë we use the French word army; instead of thegn or thèow, the French word servant; instead of scipherë (a compound of the Anglo-Saxon word for ship and that for army), we use navy; instead of micel, we say large; instead of sigë, victory; instead of swithe, very; instead of laf, we say remainder or remnant, and so on.
Curiously enough, it sometimes happens that when
both the native and the foreign word still have a place in our language, the latter has become the more popular, the former being relegated to the higher or poetical style. Thus it is more natural for us to say divide (from L. divido) than cleave (from A.S. cleofan); travel than fare; * river than stream; castle than burg; residence than dwelling; remain than abide, expect than ween; pupil or scholar than learner; destruction than bale; protect or defend than shield; immediately than straightway; encourage than hearten; present than bestow; firm than steadfast; direct than forthright; impetuous than heady; modest than shamefaced; prince than atheling; noise or tumult or disturbance than din; people than folk; prophet than soothsayer; fate than weird; lancer than spearman; I intend than I am minded; excavate than delve; resist than withstand; beautiful than goodly; gracious than kindly. The very fact that the native words belong to the older stock has made them poetical; for the language of poetry is always more archaic than that of prose.
Frequently we have kept both the native and the foreign word, but in different senses, thus increasing our vocabulary to good purpose. The foreign word may be more emphatic than the native: as in brilliant, bright; scintillate, sparkle; astonishment, wonder; a conflagration, a fire; devour, eat up; labor, work. Or the native word may be more emphatic than the foreign as in stench, odor; straightforward, direct; dead, deceased; murder, homicide, Often, however, there is a wide distinction in meaning. Thus driver differs from propeller; child from infant; history from tale; book from volume; forehead from front; length from longitude; moony from lunar; sunny from solar; nightly from nocturnal; churl from villain; wretch from miser; poor man from pauper; run across from occur; run into from incur; fight from debate.
4 Fare is still common as a noun and in figurative senses. 3 But the irregular plural folks is a common colloquialism.
From time to time attempts have been made to oust foreign words from our vocabulary and to replace them by native words that have become either obsolete or less usual (that is to say, less popular). Whimsical theorists have even set up the principle that no word of foreign origin should be employed when a native word of the same meaning exists. In English, however, all such efforts are predestined to failure. They result, not in a simpler and more natural style, but in something unfamiliar, fantastic, and affected. Foreign words that have long been in common use are just as much English as if they had been a part of our language from the beginning. There is no rational theory on which they should be shunned. It would be just as reasonable for an Englishman whose ancestors had lived in the island ever since the time of King Alfred to disown as his countrymen the descendants of a Frenchman or a German who settled there three hundred years ago. The test of the learned or the popular character of a word is not its etymology, but the facts relating to its habitual employment by plain speakers. Nor is there any principle on which, of two expressions, that which is popular should be preferred to that which is learned or less familiar. The sole criterion of choice consists in the appropriateness of one's language to the subject or the occasion. It would be ridiculous to address a crowd of soldiers in the same language that one would employ in a council of war. It would be no less ridiculous to harangue an assembly of generals as if they were a regiment on the eve of battle. The reaction against the excessive Latinization of English is a wholesome tendency, but it becomes
a mere "fad” when it is carried out in a doctrinaire manner. As Chaucer declares:
"Ek Plato seith, whoso that can him rede,
Every educated person has at least two ways of speaking his mother tongue. The first is that which he employs in his family, among his familiar friends, and on ordinary occasions. The second is that which he uses in discoursing on more complicated subjects and in addressing persons with whom he is less intimately acquainted. It is, in short, the language which he employs when he is “on his dignity,” as he puts on evening dress when he is going to dine. The difference between these two forms of language consists, in great measure, in a difference of vocabulary. The basis of familiar words must be the same in both, but the vocabulary appropriate to the more formal occasion will include many terms which would be stilted or affected in ordinary talk. There is also considerable difference between familiar and dignified language in the manner of utterance. Contrast the rapid utterance of our everyday dialect, full of contractions and clipped forms, with the more distinct enunciation of the pulpit or the platform. Thus, in conversation, we habitually employ such contractions as I'll, don't, won't, it's, we'd, he'd, and the like, which we should never use in public speaking, unless of set purpose, to give a markedly colloquial tinge to what we have to say.