When the Angles or English went over to the British Isles in the fifth century, the number of words in the language they spoke was probably not over two thousand. Now, however, we possess a vocabulary of perhaps more than one hundred thousand words. And so eager and willing have we been to welcome foreign words, that it may be said with truth that: The majority of words in the English Tongue are not English. In fact, if we take the Latin language by itself, there are in our language more Latin words than English. But the grammar is distinctly English, and not Latin at all.
We must not forget what has been said about a language, - that it is not a printed thing - not a set of black marks upon paper, but that it is in truest truth a tongue or a speech. Hence we must be careful to distinguish between the spoken language and the written or printed language; between the language of the ear and the language of the eye ; between the language of the mouth and the language of the dictionary ; between the moving vocabulary of the market and the street, and the fixed vocabulary that has been catalogued and imprisoned in our dictionaries. If we can only keep this in view, we shall find that, though there are more Latin words in our vocabulary than English, the English words we possess are used in speaking a hundred times, or even a thousand times, oftener than the Latin words. It is the genuine English words that have life and movement; it is they that fly about in houses, in streets, and in markets ; it is they that express with greatest force our truest and most usual sentiments - our inmost thoughts and our deepest feelings. Latin words are found often enough in books ; but, when an English man or woman is deeply moved, he speaks pure English and nothing else. Words are the coin of human intercourse; and it is the native coin of pure English with the native stamp that is in daily circulation.