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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 12:12 GMT
Norman invasion word impact study
Prof David Trotter
Prof Trotter says the funding allows the online dictionary to be revised
A project examining the impact the Norman invasion of Britain had on the English language has won 874,000.

The Anglo-Norman dictionary, housed at Aberystwyth University, will use the money to continue revising its online edition.

The university's Professor David Trotter said it reflects the "enduring influence" of the Anglo-Normans.

The dictionary, and its associated texts collected at Swansea University, now stands at eight million words.

Professor Trotter, who heads the department of European languages at Aberystwyth, explained: "English - Anglo-Saxon - substantially disappeared from writing after the conquest and did not re-emerge until the 13th Century."


He said just as the Anglo-Norman nobles ousted the Anglo-Saxon rulers - the language of the conquerors replaced the Anglo-Saxon English spoken by the ruling classes.

"That is how and why this particular form of French came to have such an influence on the English language," he said.

"More than 50% of the vocabulary of modern English comes from this source. The amount of French which has become part of English far outweighs the amount of 'Franglais' in French - the much feared invasion of modern French by English."

Bayeux tapestry image of King Harold
Rubbish - Robouse
Lettuce - Laituce
Pavement - Pament
Gutter - Gutere
Soup - Supe
Salmon - Salmon
Parliament - Parlement
Constable - Conestable
Bachelor - Bacheler

The Anglo-Norman dictionary was first started in 1947, but it was not until 1977 that its first edition began to be published.

The massive task of revising the tome got underway in 1989, and since 2003 an exclusively online version has updated entries covering the letters F to H.

The new funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which had already pumped more than 800k into the project, will now see the dictionary updated by 2012 as far as the letter M.


Professor Trotter said it means the new dictionary will be three times the size of the original collection, covering legal texts, scientific literature and the vast amount of administrative documentation that still survives from the Norman conquest, up to the 15th Century.

"The entirety of the legal process, the offices of state, a good deal of everyday vocabulary and substantial numbers of dialect words have now gone out of use in the standard language, derived directly from Anglo-Norman," added Prof Trotter.

"The Anglo-Norman dictionary, in its revised form, will make possible a comprehensive reassessment of this element of the impact of the Norman conquest, and will make visible an aspect of the enduring influence of the Anglo-Normans which is every bit as important as the castles and cathedrals which they built."

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