About Anglish

Introduction

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!

“Racist!”

No.

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.

Definition

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

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3 Responses to About Anglish

  1. barrycjacobsen says:

    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).

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