Essay about Whixley Dinner Hall

Submitted By Eve-Allerston
Words: 776
Pages: 4

The Dinner of Whixley Hall shows numerous examples of the way in which the English language has changed since 1736. As we know, the standardisation of the English language through the publishing of the first Dictionary (Samuel Johnson) in 1755 and Robert Lowth’s introduction to English Grammar was not released until 1762, therefore it is understandable why this piece of text contains what would now be considered as incorrect uses of grammar and syntax, due to our modern day prescriptive attitudes. For example, ‘jelly’s’ would now be spelt Jellies, as the use of an apostrophe in modern uses of language implies a possessive quality or to show omission, of which neither can be applied to the map of this dinner table. Also, the word ‘jelly’ itself is a borrowing, originating from Nordic influence over the English language, as are all words that contain a ‘y’.
As well as this, the standardisation of the English language brought about rules for capitalisation, and would explain the irregularities found in the text. ‘a Goose’ is one example, where the first word is left uncapitalised, and the key word, ‘Goose’, is capitalised, to infer significance. The same occurs in many other examples, and presumably is to highlight important features of the meal. However ‘almond Cheesecake’ is another example, therefore the ‘a’ used is probably only a graphological difference, rather than an irregular capitalisation. Another graphological change would be the use of the ‘long s’, which is present in this text, however due to it causing complications when used on a typing machine, it’s use was dropped around 1800.
The syntax within the text does not follow the same rules as today, and such rules were established under Robert Lowth standardisation of grammar, eg ‘pineapple green’ and ‘little chicken boiled’ would not be found in a modern day text, as we use the adjective before the noun. However, in French, regarding colours, the adjective is still to this day used after the noun, so ‘pineapple green’ was probably introduced by the French. ‘Fricassee’ is another
French borrowing, and further proves just how much other cultures have influenced our language when talking about food. The word ‘Almond’ itself is a borrowing, stemming from Arabic roots, with ‘al’ in Arabic turning a word into a definite article (as the prefix ‘al’ translates to ‘the’ in English). ‘Pistachio’ is also a borrowing which originates from Italian.
Another example of a borrowing from Norse origin is ‘sylabubs’, which also uses archaic orthography, as today we would say ‘syllabubs’. ‘Ragoud’ is another example, which is a borrowing from the French ‘ragout’, meaning stew. However today, we refer to it as ‘ragout’. These examples all indicate how cultural transmission has had a great influence on the English language, and with new methods and techniques, particularly regarding culinary skills, new words have formed and become part of our language.
‘Preserved’ foods were introduced by hot countries that needed to find methods of preventing food from going off…