Cakes and Wine: is English French or German?

I: Confectionery

‘No man - as you know - can get full play for his natural gifts...unless he has fit tools, and the raw
material to work on.’ – KING ALFRED THE GREAT

Alfred, the greatest Anglo-Saxon King of England, may be
remembered for the cakes he burned while sheltering from battle
in a shepherd’s cottage. Margaret, Queen of England some 600
years later, comes from Anjou in France, famous for its sweet
pink wine…
Some of my ancestors came from Germany and so are
Germanic; their language is ‘Germanic ’ ; and later on, this
develops into ‘Anglo-Saxon’, which is simply that same language
continuing outside Germany in what is now (or soon will be)
England. So, with a pinch of salt (!) (also improving the cakes!) we
can say that half of English has ‘German’ words: the older ones,
mainly...
The other tradition of my family (and of the English language)
comes from France, because England had a French Kings: first,
from 1066, William, …(after Harald lost the Battle of Hastings…)
who brought many Frenchmen with him, including my ancestors.


You know already that two things may be true about something,
and yet there will not be a conflict. For example, your father
could also be your sports teacher. Or we could say that the moon
is brown, grey or pale goldish-brown; or even silver, and the earth,
blue: all of these might be true…


In the same way, before I gave about fifteen possibilities for the
origins of English words; and there might be more:

But if we are talking about generally ‘French’ elements in English
just the purple, pink and dark red words will qualify. And as you
see with '‘Old French’ – they’re usually Latin originally. So all
these I will now just call French – and most of the remainder,
simply German. Even if it’s also true to call them – in many cases
– Anglo-Saxon.
Think back – if you will – to the cooling of the planet which left
us with the Moon and many chemical materials, the same on
earth as on the moon, by the way… OK?
When I was at school we experimented to make Copper
Sulphate crystals like these children are doing: and what
impressed me was that no matter what you do, they will always
come out the same. The way chemicals combine has not changed
since the earth came into existence billions of years ago. English,
too, has cooled – although even quite recently (in the time of
Shakespeare, for example) it was still changing, and changing
quite a lot, too…

Even so, you get my general idea: English or any other language is
a system, and by looking at it in various ways we are trying to see a
bit how it works. In this way it becomes part of our knowledge;
and as Michel Thomas famously said: ‘What you know, you do
not forget’. I’m not trying to teach anything: just trying to explain
how to acquire, for yourselves, knowledge…
II: Granularity

Click the sub-heading to remind yourself how to do a little
Granularity… The higher the Granularity scores, the more likely it
is that a word is Germanic. A high score would mean many C or
V readings, maybe 2 for a C or V and 1 for a c or v. For example,
in the film, ‘tall grasses’. And it would indeed be German or
Germanic. But here’s another way: measure the word’s spoken
distance.


Here is the word departed from the Scotland lesson – the second
one. If we map the distance between the consonants below (x,y =
0 ) and the vowels above it, the lengths from consonant to vowel
in this case (as it begins with a consonant) total 7 (2+2+3 : given in
purple). Now, divide by the number of letters in the word: 9. The
answer is 0.77 – or seven ninths. Try the same for another word,
burial…


Spoken distance: 5/6 or 0.84. Granularity : departed bacaCad
burial bacVad. But departed is a three syllable word and burial
maybe only two and a half. If we plot the product of their
syllablicity and their spoken distance and call the result the weight
of the word we will see that, based on this example, French
words are lighter, German ones heavier. I do not insist on it, and
they still come quite close. But with experience you will be able to
guess which is which and from that know which principles to
apply in deciding how to pronounce them.



III: Weight and Distance



That’s enough for now, but it should help a bit, I hope… Bye!

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