Saturday, June 23, 2007

In Kopke Kofie

I wonder who it was that traveled from Exeter St. Davids to Redruth on November 17th 2003. It wouldn't have been me, I was in America at the time. And anyway only today did I set eyes on The Story of English, which is where I found the rail ticket, used as a book mark.

Tickets and travel arrangements have been occupying me these past days as I prepare to travel to the Netherlands on Monday. Much kindness has been extended by my Dutch hosts with reassurances that people speak English. All the same I've written instructions and maps to ease my way once I'm in the country.

English. A common language, what a gift. What a history! Now my eyes have been opened wide I can hardly put the book down. Perhaps I'll take it with me on Monday.
The Frisian for cow, lamb, goose, boat, dung, and rain is ko, lam, goes, boat, dong and rein. And the Frisian for 'a cup of coffee' is in kopke kofie. The similarity between Frisian and English, both with strong Germanic roots, emphasizes how close English is to German, Dutch and Danish. The Germanic echoes in all these languages betray their oldest and deepest roots. And it is no accident that the Dutch, for instance, often seem to speak English with as much ease as the English themselves. The evidence of a place like Friesland (an area in The Netherlands BTW) suggests that if that linguistic cataclysm, the Norman Conquest of 1066, had not occurred, the English today might speak a language not unlike modern Dutch. From The Story of English, p. 55.