Episode 147: A Rude and Rusty Language

The European Renaissance provided a transition to the early modern era by looking back to the culture of classical Greece and Rome. It led to a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Latin and a new world view known as humanism. But scholars in England doubted the ability of English to handle the new learning associated with this cultural movement. They felt that English was ‘rude’ and ‘rusty,’ and could only convey the new ideas and concepts by borrowing words from Greek and Latin. In this episode, we examine how the Renaissance fundamentally changed the English language by expanding its vocabulary and by giving it a new register of scholarly and technical synonyms. 


7 thoughts on “Episode 147: A Rude and Rusty Language

  1. So maybe I’m splitting hairs here? But in Elyot’s “Book of the Governor”, he seems to use the word “Democratia” only once, and describes it as a “greke” word. Is it totally justified to say that this is the first use of “Democracy” in an English document? (The OED puts this citation in brackets, which would seem to imply that it is on my side, a bit?)

    • It’s a fair point. When does a loanword truly become a loanword? If it is used in an English document does that make it a recordable use in English? I don’t really have the answer. I’m going to give Elyot credit for the first English use of “democracy” since his book was composed in English, but it seems like a bit of a gray area.

  2. I’m disappointed the word “expede” didn’t stick around. I like the sound of it more than “expedite”.

    Also no way in a million years would I have thought of a relationship between “antique” and “antics”, that’s fascinating.

  3. Hi Kevin
    I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy listening to your podcast.
    I’ve have been a Patreon member for a while. (Money well spent). Lately i can not retrieve my bonus podcasts. When I try to go into the Patreon section it invites me to “become” a member even though I have already logged in.
    Please advise me how I can fix my problem. I trust your website is correct and the difficulties are “operator error.”
    Thank you Leona

    • Hi Leona. I just checked, and you are still an active patron at Patreon. Unfortunately, Patreon is a completely separate platform, so you may need to contact their customer support if you continue to experience problems. My advice is to log out of Patreon, and then log back in. Make sure you go to the main Patreon page for the HOE Podcast -https://www.patreon.com/historyofenglish. If you still can’t access the episode, send me an email at kevin@historyofenglishpodcast.com, and I’ll look into it further.

  4. Oddly, much of this episode seemed a word for word duplicate of a previous episode, so much so that I double checked the episode number to make sure I hadn’t somehow skipped back to an earlier one.

    • It’s not a duplicate. Every episode is prepared from scratch. However, the relationship between Latin/French loanwords and native English words is an old theme that permeates the podcast series.

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