James Meek, author of To Calais, In Ordinary Time, writes about the intersections of languages with each other, and with power, at the Guardian:
“The transformation tends to be presented in popular history as an absolute, as the triumph of English over French, as if languages were hermetic national systems, as if English were taken prisoner by French with the Norman conquest in 1066, was tyrannised by it for the next 300 years, then burst free and drove the aggressor back across the Channel. As well as describing, in English, the death of French as a living language in England, Trevisa sounds the death knell for living Latin by the then radical act of translating a learned work from Latin into English.
“But neither French nor Latin went away. They seeped into what we call English and made themselves at home, giving the language its fantastical redundancy, creating something half-Germanic, half-Romance. Trilinguality was internalised. Otherwise the Albert Hall would resound to ‘Land of hope and woolder/Mother of the frith,’ and we’d sing ‘God beery our gladman Queen’ and leave the EU not to take back control but to ‘take wield again’. We’re born in English, live, love, wonder, feel and die in English, but we’re conceived, we emerge, exist, touch, desire, doubt, experience, suffer, succeed, fail and perish in French and Latin.”