Sunday, 27 November 2011

1066 And All That: New Phrase Book Rewrites English

A former teacher of English has written a phrase book with a difference: In Hastings, 1066 - Words We'd Wield if We'd Won, David Cowley has used an extensive knowledge of the language to show a modern English stripped of Norman-French, with its original Anglo-Saxon words intact.

The results are a mix of the startlingly different and surprisingly familiar, as these examples show:

May I ask a question? - May I ask a frayn?
Think positively! - Think winly!
Such impatience! - Such unthild!
With little modesty - With little shamefastness
Making progress - Making forthship
Be discrete - Be sidely
A duty to be done - An oughting to be done
A precious heritage - A dearworth yearve
The court believed you were innocent of the accusation - The hove believed you to be unsinny of the wraying
Peace agreement - Frith thwearing

Cowley sees fun and serious sides to the work: "Hastings meant the English elite and official use of Old English were swept aside by the Normans. French words ousted many English ones, so we've ended up speaking and even thinking differently. There's a fun element in pretending we won at Hastings, but the alternative sayings can really make you think it's a pity we lost that way of expressing things."

Hastings, 1066 - Words We'd Wield if We'd Won, Bright Pen Books, 51 pages, RRP £3.99
ISBN 978-0-7552-1376-4'd+Wield+If+We'd+Won/

(EDITOR: This will make an absolutely first rate stocking filler, this Christmas)

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