The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
-James Nicoll

French + Germanic languages + a sprinkling of Latin = English after 1066, the formula for early Middle English

Did you know that when the History Channel mentions that Robin Hood poached venison in the king’s forest, it’s a leftover from the nobility’s use of French in the EME (Early Middle English) period?  The word went through a process of narrowing.  Instead of just using the term venison to describe the large herbivore which is good to eat, English came to use venison for the meat and deer for the animal.  Others include mutton and sheep, beef and cow, and pork and pig.

So, Mr Nicoll is right.  The English language basically steals whatever sounds interesting from other languages.  Even though we speak a brutal, thieving tongue, our vocabulary is amazingly vast and specialized.

Have I mentioned I love words?

The Canterbury Tales, Ellesmere Manuscript

Advertisements