1066 and the French Invasion of English
By some time after the departure of the last Roman legions, England was speaking Anglo-Saxon, a Germanic language. Germanic tribes, coming from the North Sea coast between Holland and Denmark, had invaded and colonized England and established their language as the dominant tongue. The original Celtic language was pushed back to Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, the offshore islands, and Ireland, where the Celtic languages still survive. Then, in 1066 Anglo-Saxon as the preferred language received an almost fatal blow. The Norman French invaded England and William of Normandy vanquished and killed Harold of England – a definite turning point for the English vocabulary today is of French-Norman and Latin-via-French origin.
The good life, medieval style, of the Norman French overlords is echoed in English speech today, for instance in everyday terms for meat. Meat prepared for the table is still referred to by its modified French name, while the animal from which the meat comes keeps its Saxon name.
MEAT FOR THE TABLE
Venaison (from “hunting”)
In a word, the Saxons did the raising and slaughtering of the animals, while the Normans enjoyed the eating thereof. Almost all English words that describe food preparation are of French origin, even though they may not look French – for instance boiled, roast, toast, fry, sauce, pastry, soup, jelly and condiments.