What is Ankwai?

As well as writing here I have another blog, a collaborative blog called The Moving Dragon Writes, which you can find at:


Today we shared a post by one of our writers, Robert Craig about the development of English as we know and speak it today. He has dubbed it Ankwai and he suggests that it first appeared in London in the twelfth century, a hybrid mix of Norman French, and two different ‘Anglo’ roots, Anglo-Norse  from the North and  East Midlands, and Saxish or Old English spoken in the South. As the french court developed there was a centralised version of French making its presence felt. As the years and centuries went by, all sorts of other words, phrases and structures were drawn into what the ordinary people were speaking every day, including words from Latin and Greek. These were rather charmingly known as ‘ink-horn’ words because they were never actually spoken in conversation but only appeared in documents, words such as dismisscelebrateencyclopediacommitcapacity, ingenious, – words we now use commonly every day!

The 18th century saw a blossoming of new words as people travelled across the world – in the military, as traders, as missionaries; words we use all the time without even thinking about them include:

  • curry –  Hindi/Urdu
  • pukka –  Hindi/Urdu
  • pundit –  Hindi/Urdu
  • bungalow – Bangla
  • curry – Tamil
  • mandarin, ketchup  – Malay
  • paradise, peach  – Farsi/Persian
  • alcohol, intifada – Arabic
  • hurricane, hammock, cannibal  – Carib/ Arawak)
  • to twig (to know/understand) – Gaelic tuigim – I understand).
  • bistro – Russian (bystro – rapid)
  • Sputnik, glasnost and perestroika – Russian

Fascinating! here is a link to Robert’s article:


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