The Week: Of course language is essential to class. Take it from an Englishman.

Me in The Week

Throughout history, food and the manners that surround it have always been important class markers. There’s a reason why the words for the stuff served at the table — beef, pork, mutton — bears no resemblance to the names of the animals they originate from — cow, pig, sheep. The latter are Old English while the former are French in origin, reflecting that language’s prestige status after the Norman Conquest and France’s cultural dominance in the Middle Ages. No doubt when London’s first ‘cook-shop’ opened in the 12th century, with ‘coarser meats for the poor, more delicate for the rich, of game, fowls, and small birds,’ there must have been a Tostig or Ethelred confused that he couldn’t get a cow sandwich.

Read it all.

Incidentally the first two books on my young adult series on English history, Saxons vs Vikings and 1066 And Before All That, are both published in the US in early August.

What do you think?

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