Vaguely Interesting Snippets | 14 May 2014

One of the reasons Churchill’s speeches were effective was because of his use of Anglo-Saxon words

One of the best known speeches given in the English language is Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches”, the common title given to his defiant oration delivered to  the House of Commons on 4 June 1940.

The most quoted section is: “we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

It consists of words entirely derived from Anglo-Saxon roots except for one; surrender (which comes, somewhat unsurprisingly given the context, from old French).

What is less well known is that on sitting back down he whispered to a fellow MP:  “I don’t know what we’ll fight them with – we shall have to slosh them on the head with bottles – empty ones, of course.”

Portrait of Winston Churchill (and not, as it turned out, the Duke of London) By British Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons