Friday, 18 June 2021

Rotary club of Henley Bridge

WE held a quiz night at Badgemore Park Golf Club on March 23. Club secretary

WE held a quiz night at Badgemore Park Golf Club on March 23. Club secretary Mike Pooley was the quiz- master and also compiled the questions.

There were eight teams of eight people, which included four from the club and one each from the golf club and the Loddon Vale, Abingdon Vesper and Henley Rotary Clubs.

The Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper won the competition for the sixth year in succession.

Joy Arnott, president of the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, asked if Abingdon had a great water supply or their members ate a special diet.

A raffle raised more than £200 for the Rotary charity End Polio Now.

The speaker at last week’s meeting at Badgemore Park Golf Club was chartered linguist Leslie Thorogood, from Maidenhead.

He told members that most European languages have a common origin in Sanskrit, the classical language of India.

He explained how the English language has developed over centuries so that it now has about 55 per cent words of French origin, 30 per cent from German, 10 per cent from Greek and five per cent from other sources. Mr Thorogood showed how the word “brother” from Sanskrit is almost identical in all European languages.

He explained that after the Sanskrit migration a number of Celtic tribes took over most of Europe by the 3BC but that little remains of their language in  English apart from place names.

The Romans invaded in 55 BC and gave us the name Britain after a Celtic tribe, the Bretanii.

After the Romans left in 410 AD, various German tribes such as the Angles and Saxons invaded and intermarried with the Celts.

Thus for about 600 years the German language predominated, giving us everyday words such as table (tafel), mother (mutter), house (haus) and cow (kuh).

Even the Vikings, who invaded in 790 AD, spoke a Germanic language and could converse with Anglo-Saxons. As a result 80 per cent of daily speech today is Germanic.

A turning point came in 1066 AD with the Norman Conquest. From then on French was the language of the court, the nobility and diplomacy. Anglo Saxons wanting to advance themselves learned French and gradually more and more French words were assimilated. English became a composite with the two languages co-existing, depending upon status.

Where two synonyms existed in English the Germanic one was basic and more often used and the French one was usually from a higher level of living.

Greek words started to be introduced in the 12th century when the universities needed new words for scientific and medical discoveries — biology is recognised universally and made up of two Greek words: life and study.

English has always readily absorbed new words such as curry (Dravidian), bamboo (Malay), banana (Caribbean), tea (Chinese), toboggan (American Indian) and coffee (Turkish).

Today we can have several words meaning almost the same but nuanced. An example is the old German word plunder, the French word pillage and the Hindi word loot.

Mr Thorogood showed his audience that learning a foreign language is easier than we think.

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