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How has Latin influenced the English language?


Contrary to common belief, Latin has not had a major influence on the structure of the English language or its grammar.

English is essentially a Germanic language - its core character was established long before the Romans arrived.  Where Latin has played a crucial role in the evolution of English is in the expansion of vocabulary.

Over 60% of words used in modern English have a Latin root, including the vast majority of those introduced since 1066.

Romans in Britain

Perhaps surprisingly, the Roman occupation of Britain had little initial impact onEnglish. Only place names like London, Bath & Chester indicate the official language of the occupiers.

It was with the arrival of Christian missionaries in the 6th and 7th centuries that significant numbers of Latin words began entering the lexicon. Latin was the lingua franca or common language of the Christian world, with the mass or service  being conducted in Latin. 

Other religious words like abbot, altar, apostle & candle gradually came into common use.

Adapted from 'Where do English Words Come From'  a worksheet in the  About the English Language Teaching Pack  - Download for only £2.99 

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