A Language Lover's Trip to England

I had a wonderful time visiting England for a usage guide conference and touring with an eye on the history of English. 

Mignon Fogarty
6-minute read
Episode #426

After the Normans took over England, the official language became French for hundreds of years, and this was the time when hordes of French words entered the English language—especially words related to upper-class life such as words about government and cooking. 

White Tower Sign

To establish his power, William the Conqueror built lots of castles, and the first was the White Tower. It was meant to shock and awe the locals to show them who was in charge and keep them in submission, and it’s still impressive today. This castle was the symbol of power of the people who changed English. 

White Tower

It was also used as an armory, and inside all sorts of weapons and armor are on display,


but they also have painted wooden heads of a long line of kings, including William the Conqueror, so you can actually see what he looked like. I’ve read about these things in history books, but seeing the castle and looking at a lifesize head of William the Conqueror made it all seem much more real. 

(Tower of London page with pictures of the kings’ painted heads.)

William the Conqueror

So that was my trip, and I’ll have pictures on Quick and Dirty Tips of almost everything I talked about and links to the official pages with more information. I had been thinking of trying to lead tours to these places, but we found that we could barely manage taking care of ourselves in a foreign country, so that isn’t going to happen, but I do recommend that any language lover who is visiting the UK get David and Hilary Crystal’s book, Wordsmiths and Warriors


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.