Monday, March 9, 2009


I hit the ground running as the fusillade came over the ramparts. Men were scattering in every direction as explosions rocked the earth and the noise and confusion reached epic proportions. (A fusillade is the simultaneous and continuous firing of a group of firearms on command. It stems from the French word fusil, meaning firearm, and fusiller meaning to shoot).

In 1066 William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded England leading an army of Normans, Bretons, Flemings and Frenchmen to battle with the English army under the command of King Harold Godwinson. This event is now referred to as the Battle of Hastings. One effect of the Norman Conquest of England was the ascendancy of the French language as the language of the Court and subsequently the nobility of England. As a result, almost every common term in English has both a French and an Anglo-Saxon form; for example pig and ham (ham from the French jambon).

Since a large percentage, some say as much as thirty percent, of so-called English words actually came from French, English speakers who have never studied French probably already know thousands of words.

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