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April 21 2017

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Thanks to Linguist Twitter for finding this example of how some things just don’t change!

Modern historians tend to characterize the time where English borrowed a lot of words from Norman French as a period of richness and innovation, but sure enough, writers at the time were grumbling about how kids these days were speaking absolutely terrible Anglo Saxon. 

Full quote, from Bokenham in 1440 (notice how he’s ironically using lots of Latinate words in his complaint, like “corruption” and “familiar” and “augmentation”):

And þis corrupcioun of Englysshe men yn þer modre-tounge, begunne as I seyde with famylyar commixtion of Danys firste and of Normannys aftir, toke grete augmentacioun and encrees aftir þe commying of William conquerour by two thyngis. The firste was: by decre and ordynaunce of þe seide William conqueror children in gramer-scolis ageyns þe consuetude and þe custom of all oþer nacyons, here owne modre-tonge lafte and forsakyn, lernyd here Donet on Frenssh and to construyn yn Frenssh and to maken here Latyns on þe same wyse. The secounde cause was þat by the same decre lordis sonys and all nobyll and worthy mennys children were fyrste set to lyrnyn and speken Frensshe, or þan þey cowde spekyn Ynglyssh and þat all wrytyngis and endentyngis and all maner plees and contravercyes in courtis of þe lawe, and all maner reknygnis and countis yn howsoolde schulle be doon yn the same. And þis seeyinge, þe rurales, þat þey myghte semyn þe more worschipfull and honorable and þe redliere comyn to þe famyliarite of þe worthy and þe grete, leftyn hure modre tounge and labouryd to kunne spekyn Frenssh: and thus by processe of tyme barbariʒid thei in bothyn and spokyn neythyr good Frenssh nor good Englyssh.

Here’s a translated version if you don’t feel like puzzling through the Middle English:

And this corruption of Englishmen in their mother tongue, begun, as I have said, in the every-day admixture of first Danish and then Norman, was greatly augmented and increased after the arrival of William the Conqueror by two things. The first was by the decree and ordinance of the aforesaid William the Conqueror that children in the grammar schools should leave off and forsake their own mother tongue and learn their Donatus in French and construe it in French and do their Latin in the same way, which is something which goes against the habit and custom of all other nations. The second cause was that in the same decree the sons of the lords and the children of all the nobles and worthy men were first set to learn and speak French, before they could speak English and that all writings and indentureships and all manner of pleas and controversies in courts of law and all manner of calculations and accounts in households should be done in the same (language). And seeing this, the rural people [saw] that they might seem to be the more esteemed and honorable and the more easily open to the acquaintance of the worthy and the great, abandoned their mother tongue and labored to be able to speak French: and thus in the course of time mutilated them both and spoke neither good French nor good English.

The translation is via these course notes (pdf), which also make interesting reading about the history of English in general (see also these pdf exercises for other quotes). 

You would think eventually we’d learn to just chill out about how people are talking. 

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April 19 2017

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Netter Service der Bahn für die Früher-War-alles-besser-Fraktion: Euro rein, D-Mark raus.


"i’m sad and idk how to feel better"


"i don’t know what to draw"


"i always mess up"




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April 17 2017

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April 16 2017

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welcome to harvard: linguistics 101

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April 14 2017

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I died.

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April 12 2017

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