History quiz: would you be able to speak in National English?

In the 19th century, Reverend William Barnes suggested that the English language be purged of foreign words – creating what he called 'National English'. Do you think you could speak it?

A portrait of William Barnes. The accomplished linguist wanted to adopt a form of English purged of foreign imports

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Want to improve your knowledge? You can read more about National English in the July 2021 issue of BBC History Magazine. Right now, find out about the evolution of the English language, explore the surprising purity of American English, and rediscover 10 First World War slang words that we still use today.