How has Latin influenced the English language?
Contrary to common belief, Latin does not underpin the structure of the English language or its grammar.
English is essentially a Germanic language built from Anglo Saxon foundations. Its core character was established long before the Romans arrived.
Where Latin has played a crucial role is in the evolution of the English lexicon or vocabulary.
Romans and ReligionPerhaps surprisingly, the Roman occupation of Britain had little initial impact on English usage in the country. Only place names like London, Bath & Chester survive as indicators of the official language of the occupiers.
The arrival of Christian missionaries in the 6th and 7th centuries introduced significant numbers of Latin words into the lexicon. Latin was the lingua franca or common language of the wider Christian world. All ceremonies, including the mass were conducted in Latin.
Although most English Catholics did not understand Latin, religious words like abbot, altar, apostle & candle gradually came into common use.
And following the Norman invasion Latin words entered English through the Trojan horse of Norman French.
Over 60% of the words used in modern English have a Latin root, including the vast majority of those introduced since 1066.