Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > When did the English Stop Speaking French? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 4
Posts: 3,901

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2007 8:32 am    Post subject: When did the English Stop Speaking French?         Reply with quote

As we all know, after the Norman invasion, the English aristocracy spoke French as their first language. This went on for centuries, though I imagine by 1300 that the French spoken by the English gentry would sound distinctly odd to someone living in Paris. My question is, when did the English upper class start using English as their primary language? I suspect it was sometime between 1300 and 1500, but I hope someone be more specific about it.
View user's profile Send private message
Fabrice Cognot
Industry Professional



Location: Dijon
Joined: 29 Sep 2004

Posts: 354

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2007 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Did they ever stop ? Wink

English is just a mix of ill-pronunciated German and French, with a few odd bits put in Happy

PhD in medieval archeology.
HEMAC member
De Taille et d'Estoc director
Maker of high quality historical-inspired pieces.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2007 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This might be almst impossible to completely tell. It is clear that legal documents are written in french and latin in england and that a large number of normans come over but do they ever really take englihs out? It seems many marry eventually into english blood so I'd think not. This legal use stops in various places at various times. In London by the late 14th and early 15th their town records are in English. Here in Southampton it is about mid 15th as is York's from what I remember. If they are changing the legal language there is a good chance they are speaking english most of the time before this.

Edward III pushed for english to be spoken during his reign. Some where in the statutes of the realm he states this should be used for all government admin but it is a change that takes place over time not over night.

I assume that most nobles and gentry could speak english better than a second language even fairly soon after the conquest. Not understanding the language of everyone who works for you would be a huge issue, especially for those who serve in justice would have to be able to speak english well or they could not do their jobs. I'd compare it more to people who live in countries where it is common to speak multiple languages over 1st and 2nd languages. The exception to this might be that many nobles who were born in france and barely ever went to england likely had limited language skills but after King John's time this number of men is quite small.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
Lin Robinson




Location: NC
Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 1,216

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2007 9:39 am    Post subject: Re: When did the English Stop Speaking French?         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
As we all know, after the Norman invasion, the English aristocracy spoke French as their first language. This went on for centuries, though I imagine by 1300 that the French spoken by the English gentry would sound distinctly odd to someone living in Paris. My question is, when did the English upper class start using English as their primary language? I suspect it was sometime between 1300 and 1500, but I hope someone be more specific about it.


Roger...

Take a look at www.chass.utoronto.ca. Look for a link to an article by Jacquie Heys on French as a Mother-Tongue in Medieval England. If you cannot find it, then enter "French in England" in your browser and it should come up. I think it will answer your question if you can find the article.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
View user's profile Send private message
Glennan Carnie




Location: UK
Joined: 23 Aug 2006

Posts: 289

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2007 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I was to guess (and it's got to be a guess) I'd say around the end of the 14thC. Certainly, Richard II was a great promoter of English as a written language and was purportedly a big fan of Chaucer (which was written, and would have been read aloud - as books were - in English)

It was about this time that John Purvey began translating the bible into English (much to the horror of the church, it seems!)
View user's profile Send private message
Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,820

PostPosted: Tue 04 Sep, 2007 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Officially mandated changes to use of English started under Edward III

http://www.yaelf.com/history.shtml

but I have a source listing a letter from the House of Percy to the crown, written in French (as the official language of such correspondence and in the royal court) during Henry IV's reign. This prior to their rebellion, culminating at Shrewsbury(early 15th century). The previous link indicates Bolingbroke as possibly the first king speaking only English. You do, though, have the French continuing to support other factions (ie Owain Glyndwyr)

Somehwere in the back of my mind is another decree (can't find it quickly, or remember the source) by Henry V that discontinued use of French as official for the royal court and correspondence. I may be misremembering the context.

Here is another article, showing the use of French for port records and by the church well into the 15th century. Some references to continued use of phrasing into the 16th century.
http://www.anglo-norman.net/articles/s_and_s.xml

As others have noted, some use has never ceased.

Cheers

GC

Editing to add another link of some timeline edicts. Later than I thought (1731), George II makes use of English in the courts obligatory.
http://home.freeuk.net/don-aitken/ast/astcontents.html

What is of note there is that it is almost verbatim the wording used alsmost four hundred years previous. Laughing Out Loud
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > When did the English Stop Speaking French?
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum