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Germanic and Latin 2: From Angela Carter's "The Lady of the House of Love"

The excerpt from this wonderful short story describes the behaviour of a female vampire (lexical words of Latin origin are shown in red, words of Germanic origin in blue).


the Countess will sniff the air and howl. She drops, now, on all fours. Crouching, quivering, she catches the scent of her prey. Delicious crunch of the fragile bones of rabbits and small, furry things she pursues with fleet, four-footed speed; she will creep home, whimpering, with blood smeared on her cheeks. She pours water from the ewer in her bedroom into the bowl, she washes her face with the wincing, fastidious gestures of a cat.


We can see that the behaviour of the Countess is predatory, animal-like. This makes it basic and natural, rather than sophisticated and social. The choice of words confirms this. Throughout the text, less than ten of the words with lexical (rather than grammatical) weight are derived from Latin, whereas more than thirty have Germanic origins.

daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann