Posts Tagged ‘Normans’

Day Trip 3

It’s Wednesday everyone! Which means it’s time for Rambler5319 to take over with another story from his holidays. Enjoy.

I thought I’d do another of my days out from a recent holiday.

This time I was visiting Castle Rising just a few miles north of King’s Lynn in Norfolk. The castle in the village of the same name has a very interesting history going back to about 1138 and its current owner is actually an ancestor of the original builder! That’s nearly 900 years of ownership!

It is the place where, in the 14th century, Queen Isabella (wife of Edward II) was moved after some problems with the monarchy and its (including her) allegiances.

Cutting a very long story short it goes like this. Isabella was brought to England as a 12 yr old from Paris. Her marriage, in 1308, to Edward II (of England) had been arranged some years before by her father. As was the case with many royal marriages it was meant to try and overcome conflicts between warring countries or sides in an argument. In this case the dispute was over French lands which had been captured by England. In 1312 the future Edward III was born. In 1324 Edward II & his supporters began to confiscate Queen Isabella’s lands. Because of hostilities with France, and Isabella being French, Edward II put people in to run the royal household as well as putting her French staff in prison. Her youngest children were taken away from her. She then went to her brother King Charles IV of France and began to take back lands which Edward owned in France. She started bringing together opponents of Edward II in France, some of whom were English, to form an army. At this point she formed an alliance with and later took as a lover, Roger Mortimer. (He had previously escaped from prison in England in 1322.) Isabella betrothed her son (future Edward III) to Philippa of Hainault (an area of Belgium which bordered France) and with the dowry was able to raise a mercenary army. They came back to England and forced Edward II to give up the throne. (Some believe Isabella was later responsible for Edward’s murder.) Isabella became regent and she and Mortimer ruled for 4 years until 1330. During this time both had amassed large amounts of money and land and two years prior to this Edward had married Philippa of Hainault. Edward III, then deposed Mortimer and put him on trial for treason and had him executed. Isabella escaped punishment by apparently being portrayed as the innocent party. After being under house arrest at Windsor Castle until 1332 Isabella was moved back to her own place at Castle Rising. Even though she had lost her lands she was still given a large income to live off. She was able to employ a good number of staff and enjoyed other luxuries. She remained at Castle Rising until her death in 1358.

Before setting off for my tour of the castle I decided to get one of those audio guide things. Naturally you had to leave a deposit but I was given an unusual choice – either £20 or my car keys! I worked it out that £20 was probably a better deal. It turned out to be really good as instead of just wandering round looking at the bare signs and stone walls you had the commentary going on and it was very well done I thought.

Ok so here we go with the pics:


Note it’s rather cube-like appearance which just goes to show that sometimes medieval architecture could be rather uninteresting just like some of today’s “modern” buildings. You can see the entrance at the bottom right corner in the lower section.


This was looking back down towards the front door.


Remember we learnt about what garderobes are on 19.6.13 in 10 Words (Part 3). What is interesting is the location of them in this castle: although you can’t see it in the pic I was standing in the kitchen, the next room to them!


In the pic above you can see the two places where users have to crouch down with the dividing wall for a bit of privacy. I was curious as to what happens when say the person in the far one finishes first and has to walk past the other one which may still be being used. Maybe there were curtains or something. Hmmm….. And I suppose you’re wondering where the waste goes. Check out the next pic.


The two arches in this picture are where waste (no.2s especially) from those using the garderobes inside would drop down – quite a height! No flush toilets in their day.


This pic is showing what would have originally been the basement area but the upper floors have rotted away. The hole you can see with the grill was actually a well and here’s the sign.


The next pic shows clearly a number of arched windows at different levels which must have been for each of the floors.


In the castle grounds there are also remains of a Norman Church which was built in the 11th century


And a view of what remains of the inside


Here’s a view looking back towards the castle through the gatehouse entrance.


And just in case you were wondering how they cut the grass round the moat and fields around the castle – here’s the answer:


I returned to the ticket/shop place to hand in the audio guide machine. I was asked if I paid £20 or left my car keys. When I claimed I’d left the keys to the Rolls Royce now in the car park it didn’t work but at least I got my £20 back.

I did buy something in the shop. I don’t know about you but I struggle to remember more than a few significant kings and queens of the past 1,000 years so I thought something to help me remember them would be useful. I bought this:


Now check out the other side of it


You might have to enlarge it a bit but it’s really useful.

So, if you’re ever in the King’s Lynn area I would recommend a trip to Castle Rising but don’t forget to pick up one of the audio guide things as it makes it so much more interesting.

Can I have a word? Part 4

Our regular guest blogger tackles the subject of ‘Portmanteau Words’ today.

It’s back to that subject of words and, in this case, some very special words. As you’re probably aware English is a kind of “made up” or mongrel type of language. The purity of whatever language the inhabitants of our island spoke has been watered down (improved?) over the centuries in a number of ways. It’s become a mixture of so many words that have come to us from other cultures and languages around the world. Since the Romans invaded brining their Latin words, more influences have come in from a number of other conquerors: Danes, Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Normans have all been responsible for changes in our language (and place names in particular) over hundreds of years. Immigration has provided more foreign flavours to the mix. Other words have come from the days of the British Empire and the countries it traded with. Some words we’ve taken in without modification (e.g. précis & fiancée from French, apartheid & trek from Afrikaans, ashram from Sanskrit and hundreds more); others have a kind of anglicised version but betray foreign roots. It’s estimated, for example, that 30% of English words have a French origin & 60% have a Latin origin; some duplication because of the Latin origin of some French words. A recent arrival into English (late 19th cent.) is the word safari which comes directly from Swahili where it means “long journey”; more recently Wiki (as in Wikipedia) from the Hawaiian “wiki wiki” meaning fast; Baboushka (also a 1980 song by Kate Bush) from the Russian for grandmother and Gulag which is actually an acronym in Russian for Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i koloniimoped from the Swedish and short for motor and pedal. And there are, of course, hundreds more.

One of the things you might not have realised is that a word like moped is actually called a “portmanteau” word because it is made up of two other words or shortened versions of them. In fact, if you think about it, the French word porte-manteau is itself made up from two other French words: “porter” (meaning to carry) and “manteau” (meaning cloak). Apparently it was first used, in the context of joined words, by Lewis Carroll in 1871 (Alice Through the Looking Glass). Remember Freedom Literature, when I quoted, from Jabberwocky, these words “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe” – I wonder did you know that “slithy” means lithe & slimy? LC was also responsible for the following portmanteaux: chortled a combination of chuckled & snort; frabjous for fair, fabulous & joyous; mimsy for flimsy & miserable. In 1964, when the country of Tanganika joined with the islands of Zanzibar the new nation was called Tanzania, a portmanteau of the two original names; similarly when Europe and Asia are combined to describe the whole land mass they become the portmanteau Eurasia. If you look back to LLM’s blog, Z is for, you will see the word zonkey – a portmanteau of zebra & donkey; also there is a zorse, a zebra/horse crossbreed and her very own, but rather difficult to conceive (think about it), catterpony. LLM’s blog, Attempting ‘sporty‘, mentioned having started NaNoWriMo which looks very “portmanteau-ish” to me. There was the interesting quidnunc from the K is for knowledge blog: that’s actually a Latin portmanteau taken directly into English. There are, of course, many others along these lines. (Btw, the French though, in their own language, don’t use the word porte-manteau this ‘joined-up words’ way).

Older residents of the UK will remember ‘O level’ exams called G.C.E.s; later came the exams for those not as academically clever – they called them C.S.E.s. Then in the rush to get everyone “on a level playing field” both exams went in the dustbin and the first portmanteau exams arrived in 1988 – the G.C.S.E.s

Probably one of the most recent – anyone heard of a turducken? (Not me!) It apparently arrived into the English language officially in 2010. It’s made by inserting a chicken into a duck, and then into a turkey. (Why would you do that?).

One of the most useless portmanteaux has to be guesstimate – it simply doesn’t help. When would you use it instead of estimate or guess both of which do the job of saying something or some figure is not exact? If you can help me out – please do.
As an aside, I suppose you could call this whole process LLW – lazylanguagewords. Why? Because it means the language (i.e. me & you) doesn’t have to come up with an original new word as such. You need a new word? Just grab a few existing ones and with a bit of welding & a few twiddles – hey presto! (You want to drive and travel – you dravel or drivel.)

The more you look into our language the more examples you can see. It got me thinking about how economical these words are: as I mentioned before, instead of saying something “is a cross between a zebra and a donkey” you just say “it’s a zonkey” – neat eh? Now I think we could use some more of these to save space and time when either speaking or writing. What next? ………Yes, you’ve guessed, I’ve been working on a few.

I was thinking of transport and how easy it would be to describe your journey with some new portmanteau words. Take this sentence for example (when you arrive at a friend’s house and they ask how you did you get here?) – “I came by bus, train and taxi.” This can be “portmanteau-ed” (see how I made a noun/adjective into a verb there?) into “I came bybutratax”. Do you see what I did there? A triple portmanteau! But it’s also very adaptable because if the journey was by train, bus & taxi it becomes trabutax. Switch it round for any combo of the words. If you wanted to include the walk to the bus stop (so walk, bus, train, taxi) you could make wabutratax (a quad portmanteau). If you’re a cyclist and you ride then travel on the train and ride again you could make bitrabi and so on. If you’re going abroad you could add the flight by plane into the mix – so taxi, plane, taxi would be taxplatax.

Now you may want to say how each leg of the journey went: good, bad, rough or whatever. I’ve had some thoughts on this too. So, for example, “I came by trabutax and the journey was gobaro. Did you get it? The journey was good, bad & rough on each of the corresponding legs by train, bus & taxi. If all three legs were good or bad you’d getgogogo or bababa.

Suppose someone serves in a café (or deli) and a customer could ask for alatchesanchoca which is a latte, cheese sandwich & chocolate cake. (Imaginary scenario: Customer to LLM – Can I have a latchesanchoca without the sandwich? LLM grits teeth & thinks: “But then it’s not a latchesanchoca!”) When four friends, each wanting a different drink, come in they could ask for an escaplatam – you got it didn’t you? An espresso, a cappuccino, a latte & an Americano. (Eseseslat = three espressos and a latte and so on.) Easy eh? Imagine the questions you’d get if those were on the menu on the wall: what’s that? Why is an escaplatam so expensive? Are they all mixed together in one cup? Are they definitely all separate? We’re definitely in LLM nightmare territory here? Where was that café again? …..Oh yes, ELM St!

Now, strictly speaking of course, the grammar-savvy among you will know that these words of mine are actually neologisms (that is words that may be in the process of entering common use) rather than actual portmanteaux (plural as per French not portmanteaus as would be in English) because they haven’t actually entered the language yet. (Therefore, to be precise, you can say that I’m making some speculative forays into the world of neologisms rather than inventing actual portmanteaux.) However just as it’s a fine line between genius and madness so it’s also a fine line between neologism and portmanteau! A definitely blurred, but possible, final frontier between invention and reality.

I wonder if you’ve thought of portmanteaux as a kind of ‘final frontier’? Out there on the edge? Are you ready to boldly go where no blogger (linguist?) has gone before? Such an ‘enterprise’ would be quite a trek wouldn’t it? Lots of stuff to Chekov the list and some old stuff to Klingon to. Also you’d need to make sure with the doctor that your “bones” are the real McCoy. Still, no space to go into all that here. (See what I did there?) Remember, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard said to his daughter, “Seize the time, Meribor. Live now; makenow always the most precious time. Now will never come again” — (from the episode calledThe Inner Light). I’m just off to scan those transport suggestions again – “beam me up, Scotty!” (To the Starship Bloggerprise – of course).

But you can see how the language could develop? It’s exciting isn’t it? (Perhaps LLM could revisit her “Things to get excited about” mood before becoming too sporty? New items on menu in café perhaps?) And it’s happening right here! And you read it first here!

Now it’s over to you – perhaps you could have a think and post some of your suggestions in the comments. It would be great to see some readers’ inventions. I’m sure you can come up with some better efforts than mine. (I can speak to Messrs Chambers, Oxford, & Collins once we’ve collected our suggestions.) Let’s get on board the E.S.S. Bloggerpriseand take our language forward to that final frontier– together! (This entry – using the most recent calculation method – is from the Captain’s Log: Stardate 2012.178)