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Is English Really a Germanic Language?

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    Hello everyone.
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    Welcome to the Langfocus channel,
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    and my name is Paul.
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    Today, I’m going to answer the question
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    “Is English really a Germanic language?”.
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    If you’ve seen any of my videos on Germanic languages,
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    like my Afrikaans video, like my Dutch video, like my German video,
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    or like my North Germanic languages video,
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    then you probably saw that English is also a Germanic language.
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    But a lot people write comments expressing
    some confusion over this:
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    they write things like “Paul, are you sure
    it’s a Germanic language?
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    Are you sure it’s not a Romance language?”.
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    Well, that’s a good question.
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    If a native English speaker who had never learned
    another language before had a look at a page of French
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    and then had a look at
    a page of German or Dutch,
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    they would probably be able to understand
    more of the page of French.
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    Or, if they had a look at a page of Spanish
    or a page of Italian,
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    they would probably be able to pick out a lot of words
    that they recognize.
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    But, on the other hand, if they looked at
    a page of Dutch or German,
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    they probably wouldn’t be able to pick out
    as many
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    without deciphering the words a little bit first.
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    So in that case, why is English a Germanic language
    and not a Romance language?
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    In the field of linguistics, languages are categorized
    according to their genetic relationship.
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    Genetic relationship means that they have a common ancestor,
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    and therefore, they have some common features
    that distinguish them from other groups of languages.
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    This type of genetic relationship between languages can commonly
    be seen in the grammar and syntax of the language.
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    But, the current vocabulary of the language is not really
    taken into account in its categorization.
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    Even when a language has a huge number of loan words
    and its vocabulary changes a lot,
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    that does not change the categorization of that language.
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    So, because English developed from Proto-Germanic,
    it is a Germanic language,
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    despite massive changes that have taken place
    in its vocabulary.
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    The vocabulary of English has been highly influenced
    by Romance languages-
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    Romance meaning Latin and any language
    that has developed from Latin,
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    like French, Spanish, Italian, etc.
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    So, how much has it been influenced?
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    Well, English vocabulary is 26% Germanic,
    and it’s 29% French
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    --wait, you’re telling me that there’s more French vocabulary
    than Germanic vocabulary,
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    even though it’s a Germanic language?!
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    That’s odd.
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    Oh, but wait, there’s also 29% Latin vocabulary.
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    So, that means, together, 58% of English vocabulary
    comes from Romance languages?!
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    Wow, that’s more than I thought!
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    Another 6% comes from Greek,
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    another 4% comes from other languages,
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    and 4% comes from proper names,
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    I can’t really think of any vocabulary
    that comes from proper names,
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    aside from...
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    “randy”…
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    So if we ignore the origins of English
    and its grammar and syntax
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    and just focus on the vocabulary for a minute,
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    then English is largely a Romance language.
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    How did so much Romance vocabulary enter English?
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    Much of the French vocabulary entered English
    after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
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    The Normans spoke a regional French dialect
    called “Old Norman” or “Norman French”.
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    The upper classes in England spoke French
    for around 300 years.
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    English was influenced by the Norman French dialect,
    but also by Parisian French
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    due to its prestige and cultural influence
    in the following centuries.
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    Huge amounts of French vocabulary entered English,
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    and it lost much of its Old English vocabulary.
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    But in many cases, there are pairs of equivalent
    Germanic and French vocabulary.
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    But within those pairs, there’s often a slightly different meaning
    or usage for the Germanic word and for the French word.
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    An interesting example are the pairs of words representing animals,
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    vs. foods that come from those animals.
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    The animals are represented by Germanic words,
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    and the foods are represented by French loanwords.
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    For example, “cow” comes from Old English “cū”,
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    but “beef” comes from French “boeuf”.
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    “Pig” comes from Old English “picga”,
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    but “pork” comes from French “porc”,
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    but I don’t know what the pronunciation would’ve been
    like in Norman French.
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    “Sheep” comes from Old English “sceap”,
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    but “mutton” comes from Old French “mouton”.
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    “Snail” comes from Old English “snægl”,
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    and “escargot” comes from Norman French “escargot”.
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    French also influenced English
    because of its huge cultural influence on Europe
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    from the Renaissance period to the end of the 19th century,
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    and even now to some extent.
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    But it’s not just French,
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    there’s also a lot of Latin vocabulary.
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    Some Latin entered Germanic dialects
    in their early days,
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    through contact with the Roman empire.
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    On top of that, some Christian missionaries were present
    in Britain in the 6th and 7th centuries,
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    and they introduced some Latin religious vocab into English.
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    Many Latin words were also borrowed
    during the Renaissance period,
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    and also during the scientific revolution
    of the 17th and 18th centuries,
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    when many new words were “coined”,
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    “coined” meaning “newly created”.
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    New words were coined from Latin roots, prefixes,
    and suffixes to represent new concepts in science,
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    in technology, and in industry.
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    So, English is a Germanic language which absorbed a huge number
    of French and Latin words?
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    Yes, basically, but some people have a different theory:
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    some people think that English is actually a creole language;
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    there’s something called
    “The Middle English Creole Hypothesis”.
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    There are big differences between Old English
    and Middle English;
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    of course there was the importing
    of lots of French vocabulary,
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    but that alone does not make it a creole language.
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    But, there were other changes to the grammar
    of English which became highly simplified.
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    There was a lot of simplification,
    like the loss of most noun cases,
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    so that--aside from the possessive form with ’s (apostrophe s)
    and the plural form
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    --most nouns in English don’t have any inflection.
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    Also, adjectives used to have inflection,
    but that disappeared, too.
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    (Side note): The word “inflection” means:
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    “changes to a word to represent different
    grammatical categories”.
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    For example, the word “cat”
    and “the cat’s paw”.
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    Here, the ’s (apostrophe s) is a kind of inflection
    to show possession,
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    and we have 1 mouse, but 2 mice.
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    So here, the word is inflected to show plural.
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    So let’s take a simple phrase like “The good king”
    and look at it in Old English;
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    in Old English, notice that all three words
    in this phrase can change:
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    in the nominative case “Se goda cyning”,
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    in the accusative case "þone gōdan cyning”,
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    in the genitive case “þæs gōdan cyninges”,
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    in the dative case “þǣm gōdan cyning”.
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    So the definite article changes, the adjective changes,
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    and the noun changes depending on the case.
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    But, the article and adjective also change
    depending on the gender,
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    and the case endings are different
    depending on the gender.
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    Let’s look at a similar phrase, “The good queen”.
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    “Seo gode cwén”,
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    “þā gōdan cwéne”,
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    “þǣre gōdan cwéne”,
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    “þǣre gōdan cwéne”.
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    Notice the different feminine form of the definite article
    and the adjective.
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    This is just an example of the grammatical complexity
    of Old English,
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    so you can imagine how much it became simplified.
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    By the Middle English period,
    most of these forms had disappeared or merged together.
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    So now, we just have a genitive case,
    and the others form a common case.
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    This is the type of simplification
    that happens when Creoles arise,
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    so it’s very possible that Old English
    underwent a process of creolization,
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    inserting lots of French vocabulary into an Old English substrate,
    or underlying structure.
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    But there might have been a different reason
    for that simplification of English;
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    some people don’t believe in the creole hypothesis,
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    and they point to things like some of the irregular forms
    that still exist in English,
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    like irregular verbs or irregular plural forms.
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    In a typical creole language,
    those forms would have been regularized.
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    But, of course, creolization is not an all-or-nothing process;
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    it’s possible that English was partially creolized.
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    Well, let’s look at a couple of sentences in English,
    and let’s look at the influences we can find,
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    and let’s see if there’s more Germanic
    or more Romance influence.
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    his one’s a newspaper headline:
    “Trump, pushing immigration plan,
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    meets with family of woman killed in 2007”.
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    “Push”: this word comes from Old French “poulser”,
    or Modern French “pousser”.
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    “Immigration”: this word comes from Latin “immigratum”.
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    “Plan”: this word comes from the French word “plan”,
    which means “map” or “ground plan”.
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    “Meet”: this comes from Old English “metan”.
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    “With”: this comes from Old English “wið”.
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    “Family”: this comes from the Latin “familia”,
    according to the source I used,
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    but there’s also the French word “famille”,
    which I suppose could be the source.
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    “Of”: this word comes from
    the Old English “æf”, or “of”.
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    “Woman”: this comes from
    Old English “wimman”, or “wiman”.
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    “Kill”: this might come from
    the Old English “cwellan”, “to quell”.
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    “In”: this word comes from Latin.
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    So, out of those ten words, five are Germanic,
    and five are Romance words.
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    But let’s have a look at a more casual sentence,
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    because I have a feeling that newspaper vocabulary
    tends toward Romance vocabulary more than common speech.
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    “I had lunch with my friend and we read some books”.
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    “I”: this is Germanic, comes from Old English “iċ”.
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    “Had”: this is also Germanic,
    it comes from Old English “habban”.
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    “Lunch”: the origin of this one is vague,
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    but it seems to be from a Modern English dialect word.
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    “With”: this is from Old English “wið”.
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    “My”: this is Germanic, it comes from
    Middle English “mi”, or “min”.
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    “Friend”: this comes from Old English “freond”.
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    “And”: this comes from Old English “and”, or “ond”.
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    “We”: this comes from Old English “we”.
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    “Read”: this comes from Old English
    “rædan”, or “redan”.
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    “Some”: this comes from Old English “sum”.
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    “Book”: this comes from Old English “boc”.
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    So this time, all of the words,
    or almost all of the words, are Germanic.
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    So it’s interesting that the majority of English vocabulary
    comes from French or from Latin,
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    but in the most commonly used words in casual speech,
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    there tends to be more Germanic vocabulary.
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    This is a good argument in favor of English being classified
    as a Germanic language.
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    So, do I think that English should be classified
    as a Germanic language?
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    Well, by a linguist’s criteria, yes,
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    but most people don’t really care
    about a linguist’s criteria,
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    they just care about the practical application,
    the practical use of the language.
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    And in practice, I think the vocabulary
    is a very important element of the language,
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    so I think it’s fair to say that, in practice,
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    English is a hybrid language:
    it’s partly Germanic, part Romance.
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    But, that’s my personal conclusion.
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    I’d like to know what you think:
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    do you think that English should be considered
    a Germanic language,
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    or do you think it seems
    more like a Romance language?
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    Leave your answer in the comments down below.
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    Be sure to follow Langfocus on Twitter,
    on Facebook, and on Instagram.
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    Those are places to kind of keep in touch with me
    between videos,
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    and I also post some little bits of bonus content
    on those social media channels.
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    And I’d like to say thank you to all of my Patreon supporters,
    especially these people whose names are on the screen,
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    for their especially generous monthly pledges.
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    Thank you for watching, and have a nice day.
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    [Groovy, moderately fast-paced electronic music
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    with drum set: ”Urban Tough”
    by Media Right Productions]
Pavadinimas:
Is English Really a Germanic Language?
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Video Language:
English
Duration:
09:56

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