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