My classmate and I got into an argument over which language influenced English more as it's evolved. My classmate said German on a basis, of well, English is categorized as a Germanic Language. However, I told him that Latin has had a huge influence on the English language; in fact, 40% of the language comes from French alone. But he refused to agree with me. So, my question is: Which language has influenced English more? Latin (and languages influenced by Latin) or German (and languages influenced by German)?

~Much thanks.~
1 2
You and your classmate don't seem to have any standard by which both of you agree to measure influence. Will it be the number of words related to each? Will it be the most frequently used words? The most frequently used words in everyday conversation? The most frequently used words in formal writing? In literature? Will your standard not have anything to do with word counts? Will you measure influence by similarity of syntax and morphology? Which syntactic structures will you measure? Phrasal verbs? Verb position within the sentence? The system of verb tenses?

I don't think it will be possible ever to reach an agreement on all these and hundreds of other issues. There is no objective standard of what "influence" consists of in this context.

The tense system, the modal verb system, and the phrasal verbs all point to Germanic elements as the infrastructure of English. Most of our everyday words are related to German. Nevertheless, we have more words related to the Romance languages, originally borrowed through French, than words with Germanic roots.

I suppose, in the absence of any rigorous standards and accurate data to answer the question, I personally would argue that German did not, strictly speaking, influence English, because English is the natural historic outgrowth of a branch of German itself. We don't normally use the word "influence" in that sense. If English already existed apart from German and then came in contact with German and absorbed some of its characteristics, then I might use the word "influence". I would say that French, as a superposition of French vocabulary upon a Germanic substructure, fulfills the role of "influence" much better. [Direct borrowings from Latin (not through French) are fewer and mostly related to church terminology.]

California Jim
In addition to CJ's comments, there is also the question of modern scientific and technical vocabulary, most of which derives directly from Greek and Latin. This makes up a very large proportion of the 'English language', but is rarely used by most speakers.

Then you have the problem that Latin, Greek, and the Germanic languages belong to the same linguistic family. Thus 'Vater' in German is related to 'pater' in Latin, and both are related to English 'father'. It's an incestuous business...

Probably the most you can say is that German and Latin have each had more 'influence' on modern English than Chinese.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Which conjures up the thought of how much Chinese will influence English (or vice versa) in this millenium.
French has not influenced English because the real French language is of Germanic descent as well. The real French people in France are the Normans, Flamish and Alsacians, because they are from those Germanic tribes from Scandinavian. The current language that we call French was born from a Latin dialect that the Romans has imported in France. It was a perpetual fight between the Gaulish people and the Roman people, so the French people (Germanic) didn't really influenced the country and culture (France).
I would say that English is more related to what is commonly spelled as "Latin" only.

Sorry, but the Norman people were Latinized in the European continent, so they wanted to invade England and have imported the language with them which was not Germanic at all! However, I would say that English is half Latin and Half Germanic, thanks to the German or Anglo-Saxon dialects and thanks to the Scandinavian invaders, above all!

English is naturally more Germanic because it's our origins and it's where it began, of course! Latin has just helped our language growthing up to be a contruated language that we all know today.We share so many words with the Germans, Dutch and Scandinavian as we share a lot of words with French and Latins, but let's share our words with the others Germanic people because it's our cultures and identity.
Sorry, but, can anyone tell me what in heavens is "contruated" mentioned on the previous post's last paragraph? Unless it was misspelled.

ThanX in advance!
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Sorry, but, can anyone explain what in heavens "contruated" means? It was used on the previous post's last paragraph.maybe it was misspelled.

ThanX in advance!
Then we should infer from your words, that it is latin itself as the main tree that influenced the english language as it did many others.
I don't think you can say English is German, or Romanic...
The grammar is based on the German language, but many words find their origin in romanic languages...so I think it's half German/half Romanic...
But then again you can say Dutch is half German/half Romanic too, because the English and Dutch grammar are for most parts the same. For instance:
I am three years old and I eat a cookie.
Ik ben drie jaar oud en ik eet een koekje.
But Dutch and English also share a big part of their vocabulary, also the Romanic words, for instance:


The only difference is, the English language uses more Romanic words, there is for instance no synonym for the word face in English, while in Dutch you can call your face 'facie' or 'gezicht'. The first one isn't used in informal situations, so that's what I mean, only high-educated people use words like 'facie', words that are in the English language pretty ordinary.
I don't know about other languages like German, Swedish etc., but I don't think English is an exception and I think it's half Romanic, half German.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Show more