I’m a great fan of the series ‘Gavin and Stacey’ by James Corden and Ruth Jones. It’s brilliantly conceived, written and acted.
One of my favourite pieces of music on it, and there are many, is Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol.
I heard it on the radio this morning and was struck by its effective yet simple language.
Most of the words used could be described as Anglo-Saxon rather than Norman. They are short, down to earth and to the point.
It has become something of a truism in Britain that the old Anglo-Saxon words are somehow more powerful than the more elaborate and refined Norman-French additions to the language. Young writers used to be advised to use the short, sharp, powerful English words rather than employ the more effete arriviste additions brought over after 1066.
Yet now I live in France and I begin to wonder about this notion. Don’t the French use powerful language? Doesn’t this language have qualities which English does not? Perhaps the words the French use have the same degree of down-to-earth power to French ears as Anglo-Saxon ones do with me.
Living on the borders raises questions I have never thought of before.