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June 23, 2013

ED VASICEK: On this day, June 23, in world history

Life went on,
and so it does to
the present.

Every once in awhile, I enjoy writing a column in which I interact with history. Join me as we look at a few events that occurred on this day, June 23. These events are chosen from a list found at wikipedia.org. To read my comments, however, you need either (1) a copy of the Kokomo Tribune or (2) an online connection to www.kokomotribune.com!

Journey back with me more than seven centuries to June 23, 1305. On this day, the French signed a peace treaty with the Flemish. The Flemish language is often called “Belgian Dutch,” a major language in the small nation of Belgium. What is interesting about this language is that it most resembles the language from which English hails: Anglo-Saxon. At least, that is a contending opinion.

According to proto-english.org, “Officially, the closest language to (official) English is (official) Dutch. General Dutch is a compromise language between several distinct dialects. It is a recent standard (17th century). Fries is a part of the Dutch language group, but considered a separate language. The Frisian language is announced to be the closest language to English. There is however another candidate to that: West Flemish.”

The article proceeds to make its case. Whether Frisian or Flemish, Anglo-Saxon emerged from a Dutch-like forerunner.

English is truly a mutt language. Much of our vocabulary comes not only from Anglo-Saxon, but earlier Celtic languages mixed with later Viking (Old Norse, making our sentences depend upon word order) and French (from Normandy) languages. When all is said and done, we have a language with massive vocabulary and nuances of meaning because we may have a Celtic word for something, an Anglo-Saxon word, a French (Latin) word, and perhaps even a Viking term. The world’s leading language is no purebred!

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