The 14th of October, 1066 marked the end of the world. Those who heralded this could not be heard over the thunderous stampede of boots on the ground of Ænglaland.
Ænglaland it was no more. William the Conqueror never learned English, and none of the new nobility after him dared break this grand tradition. Peasants – we spit on your language! Or really, in your language, since it is no words at all! They said, but obviously not in those words. Or any words anyone would understand at all. Likely even the nobles themselves.
The peasants envied the position of the nobles. The nobles made sure that the peasants would be able to neither read nor understand a word that they said.
“French sounds so romantic! We should stop speaking German! Also, we’d be able to understand Will’s guys, which would get us a lot more respect, and possibly money,” said a woman in a blue Saxon dress.
“Are you kidding me? Frenchies speak through their nose! Eww! It’s better to be a hated peasant than to speak through your nose. Hon hon hon! Baguette!” said another woman in a red dress, turning up her nose on the cry of “Hon hon hon! Baguette!”
“Well, they say we just make a ton of harsh throat-sounds and it’s super guttural, whatever that French word means, so we should speak French instead.”
“Still better to be harsh and throaty than whiny and nasally. Hon hon!”
A lumberjack, a cart of timber pulled by an ox beside him, walked by, and cried: “We don’t speak German. We speak Old English, also known as Anglo-Saxon or Ænglisc, which is genetically related to German, but not even particularly mutually intelligible with Old High German, never mind being a form of Modern German, also known as New High German.”
The one in the blue dress turned back to the one in the red dress: “See? He speaks French and he can come by and tell us we’re wrong about our speaking German, and there’s nothing we can do since we just speak German and not French. Maybe we should learn French like he did then.”
“We’re all speaking Modern English, dumbasses! Not German or French! Or even Anglo-Saxon.” the lumberjack shouted.
“Well, thanks for speaking Modern English, also known as German, bastard! Yeah, how is that for a French swearword? It is a Germanic language! Ooh, I can French better than you!” the one in the blue dress shouted back.
The lumberjack made an audible variant of a gesture often attributed to the Frenchman Jean-Luc Picard as he walked off.
“Thanks for not speaking French!”
It cannot be said that the French language swept across Ænglaland like a storm. The Saxons took a word here and there until there were almost no English words left in circulation, but yet, only a few truly spoke French.
“I think we should all re-learn English,” said a middle-aged man.
“We’re all conversing in the English language at the present moment!” said a younger, but not young, man.
“That was some bastard mix of French and German and you know it. Anyways, I think we Anglo-Saxons ought to remain frank and germane to our Teutonic heritage.”
“So no more eloquent Norman vocables?”
“OK, I shall restrict myself to only the ineloquent lexical items of Romance origin.”
“You also ought not to use the ugly or clumsy French loanwords either.”
“Then how will I verbalize in the genetically Germanic language originating in Angeln, Schleswig-Holstein that has migrated to the isle of the Britons?”
“By not speaking French. I really thought it was impossible to speak English by speaking French in the first place. As our talking has showed.”
“Yeah…. It is.”
“Hey, someone still speaks English!”
And thus it went, that no one knew either English or French, and no one could really talk to anyone else, since each person’s words meant only what they wanted them to mean. Except the Frenchmen, who actually did speak French, contrary to rumors.
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Satire about linguistic clarity and how it's used socially and psychologically, intentionally and unintentionally. Somehow manages to combine influences from Tolkien, Lewis, Orwell, and Brecht. This will probably not even be quite long enough for a typical novella but it's still split into parts.