chapter  3
Old English, 500–1100
Pages 37

The reasons such assumptions persist are partly linguistic and partly sociocultural. In terms of actual language use, a significant proportion of our modern ‘everyday’ words, such as and, but, man, woman, child, are in fact inheritances from an Anglo-Saxon past, whereas many of the words used in formal and specialized registers were once borrowed from Latin and French, often at times when they had much more social clout than English. For example, the establishment of Norman French rule in England after 1066 (see Chapter 4) began a process of elevating French to a level of social prestige that still continues to this day. Latin has long had a venerable tradition in European scholarship, as well as in cultural and religious life, and English has repeatedly borrowed from it throughout its history (see p. 91, and in particular Chapter 5). These languages therefore have an established association with social power, elevated social status

and learning (a perspective that is still perpetuated in educational ideologies), hence the view that their contributions to English comprise the ‘cerebral’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘succinct’: qualities that are ‘better’ than the everyday AngloSaxon that laid the foundations of English.2