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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
Thanks to Linguist Twitter for finding this example of how some things just don’t change!
Modern historians tend to characterize the time where English borrowed a lot of words from Norman French as a period of richness and innovation, but sure enough, writers at the time were grumbling about how kids these days were speaking absolutely terrible Anglo Saxon.
Full quote, from Bokenham in 1440 (notice how he’s ironically using lots of Latinate words in his complaint, like “corruption” and “familiar” and “augmentation”):
And þis corrupcioun of Englysshe men yn þer modre-tounge, begunne as I seyde with famylyar commixtion of Danys firste and of Normannys aftir, toke grete augmentacioun and encrees aftir þe commying of William conquerour by two thyngis. The firste was: by decre and ordynaunce of þe seide William conqueror children in gramer-scolis ageyns þe consuetude and þe custom of all oþer nacyons, here owne modre-tonge lafte and forsakyn, lernyd here Donet on Frenssh and to construyn yn Frenssh and to maken here Latyns on þe same wyse. The secounde cause was þat by the same decre lordis sonys and all nobyll and worthy mennys children were fyrste set to lyrnyn and speken Frensshe, or þan þey cowde spekyn Ynglyssh and þat all wrytyngis and endentyngis and all maner plees and contravercyes in courtis of þe lawe, and all maner reknygnis and countis yn howsoolde schulle be doon yn the same. And þis seeyinge, þe rurales, þat þey myghte semyn þe more worschipfull and honorable and þe redliere comyn to þe famyliarite of þe worthy and þe grete, leftyn hure modre tounge and labouryd to kunne spekyn Frenssh: and thus by processe of tyme barbariʒid thei in bothyn and spokyn neythyr good Frenssh nor good Englyssh.
Here’s a translated version if you don’t feel like puzzling through the Middle English:
And this corruption of Englishmen in their mother tongue, begun, as I have said, in the every-day admixture of first Danish and then Norman, was greatly augmented and increased after the arrival of William the Conqueror by two things. The first was by the decree and ordinance of the aforesaid William the Conqueror that children in the grammar schools should leave off and forsake their own mother tongue and learn their Donatus in French and construe it in French and do their Latin in the same way, which is something which goes against the habit and custom of all other nations. The second cause was that in the same decree the sons of the lords and the children of all the nobles and worthy men were first set to learn and speak French, before they could speak English and that all writings and indentureships and all manner of pleas and controversies in courts of law and all manner of calculations and accounts in households should be done in the same (language). And seeing this, the rural people [saw] that they might seem to be the more esteemed and honorable and the more easily open to the acquaintance of the worthy and the great, abandoned their mother tongue and labored to be able to speak French: and thus in the course of time mutilated them both and spoke neither good French nor good English.
You would think eventually we’d learn to just chill out about how people are talking.
Babylonian era problems. (photo via tbc34)
old school hate mail
Imagine how pissed you have to be to engrave a rock
Ok but there was this guy called Ea-nasir who was a total crook and would actually cheat people ought of good copper and sell them shit instead.
The amount of correspondences complaining to and about this guy are HILARIOUS.
Are you telling me we know about a specific guy who lived 5000 years ago, by name, because he was a huge asshole
More like 4000 years ago but yes. Ea-nasir and his dodgy business deals.
And we haven’t even touched on the true hilarity of the situation yet. Consider two additional facts:
- He wasn’t just into copper trading. There are letters complaining about Ea-nasir’s business practices with respect to everything from kitchenwares to real estate speculation to second-hand clothing. The guy was everywhere.
- The majority of the surviving correspondences regarding Ea-nasir were recovered from one particular room in a building that is believed to have been Ea-nasir’s own house.
Like, these are clay tablets. They’re bulky, fragile, and difficult to store. They typically weren’t kept long-term unless they contained financial records or other vital information (which is why we have huge reams of financial data about ancient Babylon in spite of how little we know about the actual culture: most of the surviving tablets are commercial inventories, bills of sale, etc.).
But this guy, this Ea-nasir, he kept all of his angry letters - hundreds of them - and meticulously filed and preserved them in a dedicated room in his house. What kind of guy does that?
[ source ]
every time this post comes across my dash (which is often) it has even more cool info attached to it
This is an awesome story but I always get twitchy about the whole “carved into rock” bit. This wasn’t carved it was stamped into clay with a little stylus.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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