Collaborate

November 14, 2016

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The verb “to collaborate” can easily be put into plain English by saying “to work with”. Indeed, this is exactly what “collaborate” means in Latin: com– ‘with’ + labore ‘to work’. But what about “collaborator” and “collaboration”? The fairly useless word “collaborate” looks like it’s being buttressed by these two words, as well as by the negative, traitorous sense. Indeed, perhaps “collaborator” is slowly coming to mean something like “traitor”, and thus the time might be right for “collaborator” to be shuffled off.

We could turn the verb phrase “work with” into the phrasewords “withworker” and “withworking”. However, “with” when used as a kind of prefix actually means “against”; look at “withstand” (stand against, resist), “withhold” (hold back), and “withdraw” (draw back). The reason for this weirdly counter-intuitive situation is that in Old English, “with” (wiþ) meant ‘against’. The meaning of wiþ changed under the influence of phrases like “fight with”. The eremost (original) English word for the concept of “with” was “mid” — this still lives on in words like “midwife” (literally, ‘with wife/woman’).

So we have two choices here.

  1. Extend the nearly-dead usage of mid- to mean “with” and with- to mean “against”, even though it runs counter to how these words work when not compounded/prefixed.
  2. Write off current with- and mid- as relics, patterns too irretrievably lost to bring back, and make a new prefix with-.

Option one gives us midworker and midworking. Option two gives us withworker and withworking.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/7/005/068/2bd/3dbad47.jpg

 

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Pizzle #Anglish #PlainEnglish

November 1, 2016

dried-bull-pizzle-sticks-1525608

Away, you starvelling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish!
Henry IV Part I – Act II, Scene iv [1]

Now that I’ve got a dog, it’s come to my attention that the word pizzle, featured memorably in the above Shakespearean quote, is still used. “Bull’s pizzle” is sold as a treat for dogs. A pizzle is properly the penis of an animal, often a bull but not needfully so. The word is Germanic and seems to be borrowed from Low German or Dutch. Why not let’s start using it again? Maybe for human knobs as well — which I have already begun doing.

The Old English word was pintel, which nowadays is/would be spelt “pintle”. I’ve tried slipping that in to conversations, too. Whilst “pintle” and “pizzle” cannot be classed as smuggle-words, they never-the-less do seem to be understood within context without folk piping up. Probably because they are, phonologically-speaking, not a million miles away from “penis”.

But why bother? Straight-forwardly put: “penis” is a Latin word. Originally a euphemism, but one that, to my ears, doesn’t sound sweet.

I cannot stand the word “penis”, which for me not only isn’t Saxon English, it isn’t even English at all. What kind of word is “penis”? Some kind of gibberish, like “vagina” (which I can barely bring myself to say) or “defecate”. I use a variety of the following depending on context, register, and politeness: willy, knob, prick, dick, cock, man part. Other words are used for humorous effect only, such as “John Thomas” or “love-weapon”. I don’t see why pizzle and/or pintle cannot be used as a “polite” swap for the word penis.

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/23/15-great-william-shakespeare-insults-which-are-better-than-swear/?ref=yfp

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.hornbonefashion.com/dried-bull-pizzle-sticks.htm

 

 


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