This page sums up the unbelievably obscure notion that happens to be “crafting a more Germanic English”. My general blog entries on the subject can be found on the “Home” tab; this page serves more as a set-in-stone summing up (albeit with the odd update).
What is “Anglish”?
Anglish is one of the names I use for what is, basically, English but with its non-homeborn elements taken out. I also call it “pure English”, “Saxon English”, and “True English”. My friend, who online goes by the name of “Thorn”(þ), calls it “Roots English”. See their blog here: http://rootsenglish.wordpress.com/
What is “Anglish” not?
I contrast “Anglish” with what I call “Modern Old English” (ModOE). ModOE is a kind of “what if”, alternative timeline version of English. The language that we might have got had the Norman Conquest not happened. This is different to “Anglish” which seeks to make best use of the homeborn heart of current English, rather than winding back the clock and rewriting history.
A basic example: “Anglish” would not necessarily insist on using the homeborn letters ð and þ for the sounds in, respectively, this and thing. Why not? Firstly, “th” is fairly clear and well-established. Secondly, “th” was also used in the Old English period. HOWEVER, use of ð and þ and more-or-less become settled and standard by the end of the Anglo-Saxon period. Furthermore, these letters are still used in Icelandic. Therefore, in an alternative timeline where 1066 and all that did not happen (that is, in ModOE), we would likely still use these letters.
There is clearly a continuum between Plain English at one end and Modern Old English at the other. Anglish sits somewhere in the middle, probably nearer the Plain English end.
Germanic? Pure? Homeborn?
Basically, English has borrowed a lot of words from foreign languages, particularly French, Latin, and Greek. This happened mostly after 1066 and all that. That’s why English is so different to other Germanic languages: where the Swedes say befolkning, we say “population”. If William hadn’t taken over, we might well say befolking (same as the Swedish, less one “n”). So… let’s get rid of those foreign words!!! Let’s make English pure!
J. R. R. Tolkien — the godfather of inventing languages — called Adolf Hitler a “ruddy little idiot”. Not only because of his views on race, mind, but because of the way he usurped Germanic folklore, history, language, and culture, and thereby forever tainted it with his particular brand of idiocy. I doubt the swastika will ever be rehabilitated. Even today you arouse suspicion if you have an interest in anything vaguely Germanic — and anything Germanic which is deemed socially acceptable, such as Anglo-Saxon knotwork, has been taken over and inaccurately rebranded as “celtic”. So when you suggest “cleansing” English of foreign elements, it clearly sets alarm bells ringing.
But there is nothing racist, jingoistic, or “ruddy” about it.
For me, trying to focus on the Germanic elements of the English language is: (1) A fun language game; (2) a celebration of the deepest layer of our rich language; (3) an excericse useful for developing clarity of thought; (4) an exercise in linguistic art.
Nothing racist, nothing bad.
Basically, what I mean when I say “Anglish” (or “Saxon English”, and so on) is this:
English, but with the homeborn elements — roots, grammar, spelling, and rules of word formation — emphasised and re-invigorated, the non-homeborn elements marginalised; at its peak, a try at uncovering the hidden true English latent within the modern tongue.
Note that this does not mean making English 100% pure. It also does not involve making up a language. Many people interested in “Anglish” (or whatever you want to call it) do exactly that, but not me; as far as I’m concerned, Anglish — as you can see from my definition above — not only doesn’t shun all borrowing, but it tries to make use of extant Saxon English. It is not a “what if the Norman Conquest hadn’t happened” speech, a language from an alternate reality; rather, it is English, but boiled off, the Saxon salt left behind.
© 2012 – 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry
last updated 3rd January 2017
[…] About Anglish […]
Right on, mate! The French have a government ministry devoted to keeping their language pure of foreign elements. Nobody calls that racist. So if you get that sort of rubbish in response to your efforts, ignore it a “soldier on” (as we used to say in the service).
Definitely! Iceland goes even further than the French.
Yep, I do call that in the gast of racism, ethnosupremacism, and xenophobia so far as it is done for the sole sake of purism rather than speech-freedom. Also, what do thou and they mean by “their language”? Wasn’t it wrestled upon them with brutal clout some fifty-odd years BC? By contrast, Anglish is a wonderful undertaking for freedom, not purism for the sake of purism, and I’m happy that thou art for that undertaking.
Thank you for all of these lovely and thoughtmaking words, Tristan!
Very interesting “what if” scenario! But this sort of enterprise can certainly appear to have a chauvinistic slant. Even if it’s completely unintended, this type of thinking does jibe really well with a xenophobic mindset. After all, when you use terms like “pure” and “impure” to distinguish between native (homeborn) and foreign elements, you are implicitly suggesting that the foreign elements are somehow contaminating what would otherwise have been pure and clean and homely. As we all know, people do tend to unconsciously associate “purity” with cleanliness and health and “impurity” with filth and disease.
And, of course, some may question the whole idea that linguistic purity is somehow desirable.Some may say that English is beautiful precisely because it is so cosmopolitan an malleable.
Personally, I find most Germanic languages somewhat drab and coarse. English definitely stands out as the most melodious and refined. And that really is due to the French, Latin and Greek elements.
Hi there, Julian, thank you for your words. “Different strokes for different folks”, as the saying goes. Please see the following page where I deal with the “racism” charge: https://pureenglish.org/about-anglish/
English “the most melodious and refined” Theedish speech? That was a good one! But now in earnest: English is the most messed up of all the Theedish speeches by far. Take a very onefold byspel: the word “you”. English speakas brook it not only in its proper place, but also where “ye”, “thou”, or “thee” would be fitting, which is both a blatant breach of grammar and often leads to unclearness of meaning. Forliken to Theech: Even the bloodiest beginner in learning Theech would never even let the thought cross hens (ensouled pronoun, borrowed from Swedish, in wend borrowed from Finnish) mind to say “Seht ɂeuch mich?” instead of “Seht ɂihr mich?” or “Siehst du mich?”.
I still don’t get how some bring fair Theedish culture/couth together with such abominable things as racism, ethnosupremacism, or chauvinism (which all have one and the same bad gast). The Theedish folks were ethnically diverse (folkishly manifold), tore down walls, and were the wandering folks par excellence. Thus, foreigner-friendliness and wandering-friendliness are douths of the Theedish folk-gast. Therefore, it’s all the more bewildering that this wonderful couth was hi-jacked by foreigner-foes and pupils of the fascists who went beyond their masters in their monstrosity. But just as rape only harms the douth and soul of the rapist, not of the rape-victim, as we know from Socrates (who rightly held that evil only ever truly harms the evil-doer), so the crimes and craze of said master-surpassing pupils of the fascists don’t mar Theedish couth.
To be arly, I have to say that I’m against speech-purism broadly. Then why am I here? Because right Anglish is not soothly about speech-purism, but about speech-freedom, and thou’rt doing a great job at freeing the fair English speech from the oppression of speechly imperialism. It is openseeable that oppression is bad, and since speech-imperialism is a shape of oppression, it’s obviously bad, too. That’s why I believe that speeches guilty of linguistic imperialism ought to borrow words from the speeches oppressed by them so that rightwiseness is done. For byspel, it is only right for English to have taken in the word “wiki”. By the same reckoning, it is only rightwise if French borrows more English words. Likewise, oppressed speeches should shake off the yoke of oppression and rekindle their own spark of life.
As to frithful bewrixling of words, that is something which fits very well together with the Theedish gast of openness and guest-friendliness, and it is akin to trade and likewise enriching. So the word “zero”, for instance, is fully fine to brook, I think, and it shows very well how outlandish thoughts can enrich; in this fall, the Indish-3arabish idea of the rimetale 0.
I would say that one should not mix and match words the way it is done in the Anglish moot. I think https://anglish.org has a good overview.