In today’s communication skills lesson, you will learn how to speak like a knight. I’ll also teach you about chivalry, which is the code of conduct that medieval knights followed. If you would like to speak English with a noble and polite bearing, then take inspiration from the medieval knights of Europe, and start using the chivalrous phrases that I’m going to teach you in this lesson!
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What Is Chivalry?
The word ‘chivalrous’ (adj) comes from the Old French word ‘chevalerie’, meaning knighthood or nobility. ‘Chivalry’ (n) refers to the high ideals and code of behaviour that was followed by the medieval knights of Europe. Importantly, it is a different type of knightly behaviour than is depicted in the modern television series Game Of Thrones, in which most of the knights fail to live by the principles of the chivalric code.
The Ideals that Knights Lived By
The knights of Medieval Europe were warriors who lived by the following high ideals:
Knights were expected to behave in a way that way morally right.
Knights were members of the aristocracy. In the Middle Ages, they earned their position by fighting for the sovereign (king) in return for an allocation of land.
Knights fought in battles and defended the monarch.
Service to Others
In addition to serving the monarch, they believed in protecting people who were weak and defenceless.
The knights were in love with being in love. They rarely ‘joined’ with the object of their affections, however. This is because love for them meant being devoted to an unobtainable woman.
Bad Speech Habits to Avoid
In order to speak like a knight, you should avoid the following bad speech habits:
- Avoid using slang words because knights are evocative of tradition, not modernity.
- Never swear because it is ignoble to do so.
- Never say slanderous things. This means you shouldn’t attempt to ruin someone’s reputation by saying things about them that are untrue.
- Avoid boastfulness (telling everyone how great you are).
- Avoid loquaciousness (too much talking, especially about things that aren’t important).
Speaking like a Knight – Phrases to Use
I give you my word.
Knights always kept their promises because their sense of honour was so important to them. A phrase you can use to reassure someone that they can rely on you fully is; ‘I give you my word’.
‘My pleasure’ is a phrase that you can use after someone has thanked you for something. It can be used as a polite alternative to the casual phrase ‘no problem’.
Everything is taken care of.
‘Everything is taken care of’ is a reassuring phrase that you can use in any situation where someone is checking up on you. It’s an alternative phrase to use instead of telling someone not to worry.
I’m always here, whenever you need me.
Use this phrase to let a friend know that you will be there for them, if they are ever in need.
Allow me to do that for you.
This phrase can be used when you see an opportunity to help someone. If you see a stranger struggling to carry a heavy suitcase up the stairs, you can say; ‘Allow me to help you [with that]’.
Thank you so much for your kind consideration.
- Thank you so much for thinking of me.
- Thank you so much for your kind words.
These are all variations of a phrase that can be used to thank someone who has done/said something kind or complimented you. Knights believed in the importance of thanking people properly, even for small things.
It’s been an honour serving with you.
The above phrase is one that you are unlikely to have an opportunity to use because it is a highly formal way of saying thanks and goodbye to a warrior/knight who fought alongside you in a battle. Instead, the phrase can be modernised to; ‘It’s been an honour working with you’ or ‘It’s been an honour learning from you’. Use one of these grand phrases to make your colleague or teacher feel deeply appreciated.
I’m afraid not.
Abruptly telling someone ‘no’ can seem impolite or even rude. Knights would have preferred to politely refuse an unacceptable request by saying, ‘I’m afraid not’.
That is a line I will not cross.
This phrase is used as an even stronger way of telling someone ‘no’. The ‘line you will not cross’ is the limit of what you are prepared to do, as dictated by your morals.
I will take that to my grave.
You can use this phrase when someone tells you a secret. It is useful when you need to assure someone that you will never betray their confidence. It is a more formal alternative to saying, ‘Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me’.
Speaking like a knight will allow you to make a noble impression when you’re speaking English. But before you start using any of the above phrases, bear in mind that this formal manner of speaking is likely to sound anachronistic (behind the times) to some. Therefore, in order to ‘carry off’ speaking like a knight, it’s important that you also embody the knightly ideals, and attempt to live by them.
Extend Your Learning
▶︎ Watch my lesson on Direct Speech: How to Say ‘No’ Strongly
▶︎ Watch my lesson on Weak Language: Stop Sounding Weak!
▶︎ Watch my lesson on How to Be Polite on Zoom
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