Do combinations of words of Germanic origin with words of Latin origin have any influence on the level or register of language?

I can think of examples like:

exquisite work, unwavering resolution, sophisticated mind

While I lived in an English speaking country, I was receiving constant compliments for the quality of my English because I was using words of Romance origin. I did that just because my mother tongue is a Romance language, not because of any particular gift. So it made me think.

  • 2
    "I was receiving constant compliments for the quality of my English because I was using words of Romance origin" - this sounds strange. English words with Latin origins do not necessarily sound sophisticated. Consider animal, basic, candle, doctor. In any case, English speakers are usually completely unaware of the origin of the words they hear. There are cases where Latin-derived words sound fancier than the Germanic ones: prior/before, commence/start, remain/stay. But there are plenty of cases of the reverse as well: behest/order, harbinger/signal, beseech/request, blossom/flower.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 21:45
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    It isn't so much Romance words as it is Latin words, together with Greek. Most technical scientific, medical, and technical terminology is based on Latin and Greek roots, which often did time in French before being enslaved by English for its own nefarious purposes. Such vocabulary, if wielded properly and consistently, can get one a reputation for being well educated, at least.
    – jlawler
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 23:39
  • @juhasz: The compliments came from English natives that were not aware of the fact that my English sounded fancier because I was using words that came from Latin. I figured out that this must have been what impressed them. Thank you for the examples, I totally agree.
    – user31246
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 8:03
  • You're bound to get combinations because of the make up of the basic vocabulary. I don't think it's plausible that skewing your word choice towards words of Romance / Latin origin would make your speech seem more eloquent, otherwise a) writers and orators would have been on to this a long time ago, and b) second language speakers from Romance speaking countries would be recognised as more eloquent than SL speakers from otherwise comparable countires. I can't point you to a study but IME neither of those things are true.
    – rchivers
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 12:11
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    In fact, some writers (Orwell for instance) have expressed a preference for Germanic words. I'd say the stereotype is that Romance vocabulary may sound more sophisticated but can easily come across as bureaucratic or fussy or flouncy, whereas the Germanic word sounds very frank and gives an impression of honesty, but not necessarily sophistication or intelligence. These obviously are complete stereotypes but then we are talking about perception. I think word origin is perceived to some extent and does affect the overall register/style, but it's complicated.
    – rchivers
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 12:17


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