Principals of Anglish

I have spoken before about how there are different types of Anglish; my experience, in fact, is that there are about as many distinctly different forms of Anglish as there are Anglish practitioners. A friend of mine over at the Roots English blog has recently posted a very small fragment of Darwin. The differences between the three translations (provided by three different people) are startling and informative:

reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings… (Darwin’s original)

imbthinking on the two-way sibreds of lifesome beings

backshining on the evenway akinness of lifen beings

thinking upon the shared likenesses of living things

[NOTE 1]

 These fragments are a pretty fair reflection of my experiences on the state of “Anglish”.

But this post isn’t about setting out the different strains of Anglish. Rather, it is merely to outline what I mean when I say “Anglish”, it sets out Anglish as I practise it. It is, effectively, an outlining of my program.

Principles & Philosophy

My statement of intent, if you will, is as follows.

Anglish is English when it makes best use of its own native roots and word-forming mechanisms, relying on its own inbuilt genius rather than that of other languages, enlivening, where needed, those moribund or underused strategies that it possesses.

This, as a statement of intent, is not bad, but it leaves a lot of gaps. I will now try to flesh it out, point-by-point, so that you can get an adequate grasp of what I mean when I say “Anglish” and what I am aiming for specifically.

  • Only elements of the English language which are still alive can be used.

Example: “thede”, meaning “people, nation”, is dead and buried, and went out before the modern period. As much as I love the word, it just doesn’t make the cut. “Ruth”, on the other hand — meaning “pity, compassion” — I consider to still be alive as it is implied directly in the very much living “ruthless”

  • “Alive” means still in common use in either Standard English or in some dialect (if only in derived forms, e.g. ruth(less), reck(less), kith (and kin)).

Thus, the word “thole” (tolerate) is a possible word as it still exists in Scots despite having died out in England long ago.

  • The more vital a word is, and the closer to the present day in terms of its usage, the more acceptable it is; words before the modern period (c.15/1600 onwards) are almost entirely excluded, but dead words from the modern period may be considered under certain circumstances (e.g. if they are used in prominent literature, e.g., Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Dickens, and so on).
  • If a word still exists, but a particular meaning associated with that word is dead, we may still try to bring back that dead meaning (especially so if it is still intelligible).
  • Plainness and clearness are emphasised, but Germanic roots may be favoured.
  • Anglish is not an attempt to Germanise English.

Example: the word “discourage” could be translated as “put off”; a Germanising translation (as many Anglishes are) would likely say “offput” as this is more in line with German practice. The goal is to make English more thoroughly English, not to make it more German-looking.

  • Straight-forward loan-translations are to be avoided if they do not make any real sense or if better alternatives can be found.

Example: perhaps the foresaid “backshining” for “reflect” should be avoided when the meaning intended is ‘to think deeply on’, as opposed to the literal, i.e., to reflect as in a mirror, because “backshine” does not really suggest “think deeply on”.

  • Anglish attempts to retain the richness, and indeed, expand the richness of English; it does not attempt to strip layers from English (the non-Germanic parts) and leave nothing in their place. Thus, euphemism, register variation, slang terms, and literary forms are all needed.

Example: getting rid of Latin “penis” does not needfully mean only leaving in its place “cock”. Rather, “cock” and co could function as they do, but the “scientific”, “neutral” term could be replaced, as we need one; for the record, I use “pintle”.

  • The effect I’m striving for is that of almost invisibility, where people almost wouldn’t know I was writing differently.

Example: The Anglishism “handbook”, adopted in the nineteenth century after German handbuch, is a good example. Who today would say it stood out over “manual” as being odd? It has just become accepted. That is what I want to achieve (in theory); language which ends up sliding into English almost without being seen.

And I think that that fairly well sums up my goal. If need be, I will edit this list in the future to provide a clearer understanding of what I am going for.


Bryan Parry

April 2012 


[NOTE  1]

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