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October 16, 2012

Also, why we call them "connections"

Walter Russell Mead on the lasting consequences of the Battle of Hastings (via AoSHQ).

An ear for the difference between Saxon and Norman-French based words remains important even in popular literature. In the Harry Potter books, the good characters often have trustworthy Saxon or Celtic surnames (Weasley, Dumbledore) while you can tell the bad guys by their evil French names like Malfoy (bad faith) and Voldemort (flight of death). "Muggles" is about as Anglo-Saxon as an invented word can get, and to English ears it sounds like a word that ought to exist even if you have never heard it before.

This is one of the few serious rhetorical missteps of George R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire stories; thanks to the English exporting their revolution to America, he doesn't have the ear for these all too persistent markers of class and privilege.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at October 16, 2012 08:47 AM