Spelling: -o(u)r

February 14, 2018

One of the most well-known splits between US and UK spelling is the ending –o(u)r found in colour/color, honour/honor, valour/valor and so on. Whatever your opinion of either spelling, it should be noted that the forms are French and Latin and therefore should probably be taken out of Anglish. However, short of getting rid of every single word in the tongue which has this ending, which may not be possible, we need to face the need to make these forms more English. But how should we do this?

Broadly speaking, –our is French whereas –or is Latin. See the history from http://www.etymonline.com below. The English form for this sound in the position is almost always –er, as in teacher. Now, folk might not want to spell words like “colo(u)r” the logical English way, “culler”, as this Anglish movement is not primarily about spellings. But spellings are a part of the language. And many words simply cannot be taken out of the speech; even Icelandic and German have many outland borrowings. But there is no reason why the outland spelling should stay. Bear in mind that spellings like “onner” (for “hono(u)r”) are attested.

Folk may also complain that –er makes agent nouns (a “teacher” is one who teaches), and so spelling it “culler” might confuse issues with one who culls. But in any case, –er isn’t exclusive for agents, unless “butter” is someone who butts. And indeed, “butter” being one who butts is a perfectly legitimate word — none-the-less, context tells us what we mean.

So how’s this for an Anglish proposal? Where we cannot get rid of –o(u)r words, change the spelling to –er, particularly where the rest of the word doesn’t need changing at all: so maybe maybe not “culler”, but definitely “governer”. 

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://fablesandflora.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/abstract-colours-2-low-res.jpg



-orword-forming element making nouns of quality, state, or condition, from Middle English -our, from Old French -our (Modern French -eur), from Latin -orem (nominative -or), a suffix added to past participle verbal stems. Also in some cases from Latin -atorem (nominative -ator).

In U.S., via Noah Webster, -or is nearly universal (but not in glamour, curious, generous), while in Britain -our is used in most cases (but with many exceptions: author, error, senator, ancestor, horror etc.). The -our form predominated after c. 1300, but Mencken reports that the first three folios of Shakespeare’s plays used both spellings indiscriminately and with equal frequency; only in the Fourth Folio of 1685 does -our become consistent.

A partial revival of -or on the Latin model took place from 16c. (governour began to lose its -u- 16c. and it was gone by 19c.), and also among phonetic spellers in both England and America (John Wesley wrote that -or was “a fashionable impropriety” in England in 1791).

Webster criticized the habit of deleting -u- in -our words in his first speller (“A Grammatical Institute of the English Language,” commonly called the Blue-Black Speller) in 1783. His own deletion of the -u- began with the revision of 1804, and was enshrined in the influential “Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language” (1806), which also established in the U.S. -ic for British -ick and -er for -re, along with many other attempts at reformed spelling which never caught on (such as masheen for machine). His attempt to justify them on the grounds of etymology and the custom of great writers does not hold up.

Fowler notes the British drop the -u- when forming adjectives ending in -orous (humorous) and derivatives in -ation and -ize, in which cases the Latin origin is respected (such as vaporize). When the Americans began to consistently spell it one way, however, the British reflexively hardened their insistence on the other. “The American abolition of -our in such words as honour and favour has probably retarded rather than quickened English progress in the same direction.” [Fowler]


The Battle of Hastings: 950th Mind-day

October 16, 2016


Think upon this: the 14th of October 2016 marks the 950th mind-day of the  Battle of Hastings, the day that wrixled (changed) everything! (Note anniversary: Old English mynddæg ‘mind-day’; ‘year’s-day’ would also fit the Germanic mould). It was on this day that Harold, king of the English, was felled, and the conquest of England by the Normans began.

How would the English language be different if 1066 and its fallout had never happened? Nobody knows for sure. But here’s some thoughts.

  1. We still would have borrowed words, including from French, just as the other other Germanic languages have done. However, we would likely have borrowed far fewer. See Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for a good example.
  2. However, funnily enough, the fewer words that we would have borrowed would be more obviously French as they would have had less time to become Anglicised, aka, bishop-shifted. Set English adventure, menu, and point by Swedish aventyr, meny, and poäng, for example. The Swedish words more closely keep to the French pronunciation.
  3. We wouldn’t necessarily have kept up the Old English alphabet with its various letters. This is down to English already using other forms in the Old English period itself, such as <th> instead of <þ> and <ð>, and <uu> instead of wynn (keep in mind that <uu> is the old form of <w>). And the loss of yogh (the Middle English development of the Old English form of writing <g>) had little to do with 1066 and all that. However, I feel that, owing to the eventual dominance of Wessex, the late West Saxon use of <þ> and/or <þ> along with perhaps <æ> would likely have kept them in our alphabet up to nowadays. Yogh may have, too, but wynn would almost certainly have been replaced.
  4. Other spellings would be changed (or, rather, wouldn’t have changed). For example, the use of <qu> for /kw/ would likely not have been used, <cw> being used in its stead (see analogues crab and club, and Old English cwene “queen” for comparison; <k> is only used to keep the /k/ sound where would otherwise go soft, for example, king). Other changes are less obvious but no less sure. Take olden long i, which became said as “eye” after the Great Vowel Shift, so now we have win (OE winn) and wine (OE win). However, olden long u came to be spelt the French way (compare Anjou, bijou, frou-frou). Yet, after the Great Vowel Shift, this came to be pronounced as in out. Therefore, without 1066 and all that, ancient long u, just like its brother ancient long i, would have carried on being spelt as it was. So what we now know of as house, out, and cow (<ow> being the word-final variant of <ou>; compare out, bout, and bow), would have stayed as hus, ut, cu.

Whatever other changes would have happened, English still be very much its own beast, the black sheep of the Germanic language family. But I should point out, Anglish and the project of this site, is not a try at making English as it would have been had the English won the Battle of Hastings. Rather, Anglish and this project is about uncovering the English roots of English, to come up with a more Saxon, plainer English.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayeux_Tapestry#

Word of the Week: Eyeblink

June 22, 2015


As you may have picked up on, I am a lover of Swedish (see here and here). Going through the Duolingo Swedish course is providing me with a lot of delight and inspiration right now. For example, the Time module has  reminded me of a few lovely Swedish words.

There’s årtionde “decade”, lit. ‘year-ten’, and århundrade “century”, lit. ‘year-hundred’. There’s the particularly lovely årstid “season”, lit. ‘year’s-time’.

But my favourite is ögonblick “moment”: literally, ‘eyes-blink’.

Notice that all of these Swedish words are what I call “phrase-words“: phrases which have been condensed into a word. I propose using such phrase-words more often in English. I consider such formations to be “implied English”; that is, they don’t happen to exist in any dictionary, but they are implied by the mechanisms of the language.

The literal English oversetting of the above Swedish words doesn’t quite work in English. “Year-ten”, “year-hundred”, “year’s-time”, and “eyes-blink” have a distinctly Germanesque smack to them. However, we can make phrase-words of “ten years”, “hundred(s of) years”, “time of the year”, and “blink of an eye” in a style most English. I put forward:

ten-year, hundred-year, year-time, eye-blink (with or without the dashes as one sees fit).

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the phrases “ten years”, “time of the year”, and so on. And I would definitely advise people to use “In the last ten years”, and its ilk, instead of “In the last decade”. But when one needs to use a single word to encompass this phrase, as one does from time to time, let’s use the impled English phrase-words instead of complex Latinate jargon.

featured image from https://thewordsgirl.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/flat550x550075f1.jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

Phobias, Philias, Manias

May 18, 2012

Three words that I quite like from Englandish are ‘phobe’, ‘phile’, and ‘maniac’. They’re very productive and really succinct. Also, they offer us a useful set of specific medical terms. However, they do come from Greek, and therefore we should try to replace them in Anglish. So let’s think about the meaning of these words and what we could therefore replace them with.


A ‘phobia’ is an irrational fear and/or hatred of any given thing. So ‘arachnophobia’ is literally the irrational fear and/or hatred of spiders. So how to translate this affix?

We could simply use the word “fear”, e.g., “spiderfear”. But “fear” doesn’t quite capture the meaning of “phobia”. For example, maybe your fear of spiders is not irrational but healthy and well-founded, knowing as you do a great deal about their physiology and venomous capacities. How are we to make this distinction between rational and irrational fears? On top of that, “fear” does not by itself contain the “hatred” element that is often extant in the state of phobia.

We could, then, say “hate” or “hatred” (from now on in, when I say “hate” in this context, I am also referring equally to “hatred”). However, the same problems arise. That is, we are not marking this out as an irrational hate, and neither are we indicating the fear aspect of phobias.

So why not put the two together and say “fearhate” or “hatefear”? The problem is that this is longish, and we are still not indicating the key point that what we are dealing with is not a well-founded, reasonable fear, but an irrational, medical one.

We could, given these points, say, “unfoundedfearandorhatred”. But this doesn’t quite work, although I can’t put my finger on why…

Having said all of that, I’ll probably end up shocking you now. I don’t believe using “fear”, as a sort of pseudo-suffix, is inadequate a replacement for ‘phobia’. Indeed, I think it is more than up to the job. The reason I think this, despite everything I have just said, is because if you wish to say that you have a fear of a certain thing, whether this fear is objectively well-founded or not, you would not naturally say, for example, “I have spider-fear”. You would use one of the following: “I’m scared of spiders”, “I’ve got a fear of spiders”, “I’m afraid of spiders”, and so on. Thus I feel that using “fear” in this compound-cum-suffix way would not be confusing and, in fact, could clearly be used to indicate a more specific, technical sense; that is, phobia. Why isn’t this confusing? Because “fear” isn’t used syntactically in this way at the moment, thus such use of it would stand-out and indicate a potentially different meaning to the listener. Therefore, we could readily use “fear” as a kind-of suffix to indicate the specific sense of “phobia”.

Given what I’ve just said, you might want to suggest “-hate” instead of “-fear”. But I feel that “fear” works slightly better, meaning-wise. Mainly this is because a phobia may involve hate, but then again it may not, whereas it seems to invariably involve pathological fear.

Thus, for “phobia”, “phobe”, “phobic”, we have “-fear”, “-fearer”, and “-fearing”. Arachnophobia, arachnophobe, arachnophobic: spiderfear, spiderfearer, spiderfearing.


The form –philia indicates (i) “a tendency towards”, such as in “haemophilia”, and (ii) “love of or liking for”, especially with a sense of “sexual interest in”.

Natural self-suggestions are “-love” and “-liking”. But these don’t quite do it for me. I think we need a more extreme word. We could use the intensive prefix “for-“, to make “forliking” or “forlove”. Or we could go down a simpler path and use a readymade word: hankering, yearning, lust.

Certainly in the second sense of –philia, I very much like “lust”. It can have both sexual and non-sexual connotations, just like –philia, whilst also indicating an element of strong, almost insatiable desire. Thus, we have “childlust” (paedophilia), “frenchlust” (francophilia), and “animallust” (bestiality).

In the first sense of the suffix –philia, that is, ‘an inclination towards X’, we could use various forms. For example, “haemophilia” is literally a sickness where one cannot stop bleeding. Thus, “bleedingsickness”. Other possibilities suggest themselves, such as “bleedsickness”, “forbleed(ing)sickness”, and “bleedishness”. I’m sure you can think of others besides.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines “mania” primarily as, “madness, particularly of a kind characterised by uncontrolled, excited, or aggressive behaviour”, and “a personal obsession … excessive enthusiasm … a collective enthusiasm, usually short-lived, a ‘craze’”. It also lists the specific psychological meaning referring to a particular aspect of bipolar mood disorder.

I believe that madness or mindsickness are good ways of translating the mental illness type of “mania”, whilst craze is a good way to treat the merely excessive though not quite mentally unsound type of “mania”. I think this because whilst “craze” doesn’t needfully express mental derangement, it can, whereas “mad” and “mindsick” needfully betoken a mental unsoundness. Alternatively, we could use craze for both, because it does, like “mania”, have a shade of aggressiveness and also treads the line between merely the excessive and mental illness.


So, for your delight and quick perusal, I have prepared a list of words set over into Anglish. Enjoy!

NOTE: I haven’t supplied a full list of derivatives (e.g. “acrophobe” and “acrophobic” alongside “acrophobia”), as I think the derived forms are obvious; I have, instead, listed the forms that I reckon will be most useful.

Acrophobia                         Heightsfear

Agoraphobia                      Openspacefear

Anglophile                          Englishluster

Anglophobe                       Englishfearer

Arachnophobia                 Spiderfear

Francophobe                     Frenchfearer

Homophobia                      Gayfear

Kleptomania                      Theftlust, Theftmadness

Necrophilia                         Deathlust (Note: “necrophilia” does not solely mean a sexual desire for corpses, as it is often taken to be, it also includes a non-sexual but psychologically disturbed fascination with them)

Nymphomania                  Sexlust, Sexmadness, Overlust

Paedophile                         Childluster

Paedophilia                        Childlust

Paedophilic                         Childlusting

Pyromania                          Firemadness, Firelust, Firecraziness

Xenophobia                       Outland(er)fear

Xenophobic                        Outland(er)fearing

Calques / Loan Translations

May 6, 2012

Just a quick note about the use of loan translations, a.k.a., “calques”, in Anglish. First off, though, what’s a “calque”?

A “calque” is a part-for-part literal translation from one language to another. For example, the English word “skyscraper” has been translated, bit-for-bit, into many languages. For example, Spanish rascacielos (literally ‘scrapes-skies’).

These calques can be a useful way of expanding the wordhoard of Anglish. However, there are a couple of dangers which one must bear in mind.

(1) Make sure the translation actually makes sense(!) It’s possible to come up with a literal rendering of a foreign word which really makes little to no sense. For example, if we literally translate (that is, calque) the word “complex” (adj), we end up with “withweave”. Latin ‘com-‘ means “with”, and “plex” comes from ‘plectere’, meaning “weave, braid, twine”. That doesn’t really fit the meaning of “complex”, though, does it?

(2) Make sure in translating you do not give a hint of the foreign about your new Anglish word. For instance, in English we have many wordpairs where the noun comes from Germanic roots, but the adjective comes from Latinate roots: brain-cerebral, liver-renal, body-copor(e)al, lung-polmonic/pulmonary. And so on. Let’s take the last example: pulmonic. This is literally pulmon ‘lung’ + -ic. We could therefore say “lungish”. But this still seems somewhat off. But why? “Lung” is English, “ish” is English, so why doesn’t it sit right? It doesn’t sit right because, in English in these kind of cases, we tend to use the noun adjectively (so to speak). That’s why we say “brain damage”, “kidney stones”, “lung cancer”, and not “brainish damage”, or the like.

Summing up

So what’s the point? Well, look to other languages for inspiration, yes. But don’t let yourself forget the meaning you are trying to get across. If a literal translation doesn’t work for either of the reasons above, then bin it. Get back to the drawing board and come up with another word.


Post Script / Afterwrit: Final notes of interest

*The word “iceberg” is an example of a partial calque from Dutch. Dutch ijs –> ice, berg stayed as it was in the Dutch original (berg meaning “mountain”). Ijsberg is literally “ice mountain”. We used to say “ice-hill”.

*So how might we translate “complex”, out of interest? Perhaps “many-threaded” fits quite well; incidentally, this does have some connection to the Latin original (threading, weaving, needlework).


Bryan Parry

May 2012

Principals of Anglish

April 27, 2012

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]


In the House of Sickness and Health

April 26, 2012

In this post I’m going to talk a little about words relating to sickness and good health. I will also speak about the word “house” and its uses in this topic area.


House” is a pretty handy word. It doesn’t just mean “place where you live”. It can also mean, amongst other things, “a building associated with or used for a specified activity, purpose, or occupation”. In this way, it often (in effect) functions akin to Latinate –ary and is very productive:

courthouse, dosshouse, guesthouse, lighthouse, workhouse, warehouse, slaughterhouse.

However, it seems to be shied away from these days, with formations in –house often being replaced. For example, the above mentioned “slaughterhouse” is often rendered “abattoir”. [NOTE 1] Likewise, what were known in the nineteenth century as “deadhouses” are now euphemistically called “mortuaries”.

Now, I understand the sensitivity to death which gives rise to euphemistic formations such as “mortuary” (and “casket”, “deceased”, “abattoir”, and so on). And Anglish must also provide euphemisms, as euphemisms are a legitimate and important part of language. However, the problem is that “mortuary” has taken over and is no longer even euphemistic. I’d rather call a “spade” a “spade” and just say “deadhouse”, but if we feel the need to use a euphemism we could easily form them on English roots. Perhaps “gonehouse”, “lefthouse”, “Hereafter’s waiting room”; it isn’t difficult to think of potential alternatives.

Mental Illness

Let’s move on now from death to sickness. Firstly, to the phrase “mental illness”. “Mental”, of course, is Latin, and therefore no good for Anglish. So what can we call it? Let’s start by not trying to simplistically make a morpheme-by-morpheme translation of this phrase; let’s instead think about what the phrase “mental illness” actually means. Well, it is sickness of the mind, not the body. So it seems to me that “mental illness” can easily be glossed as “mind-sickness”. “Mentally ill” would therefore be “mind-sick”.

What is the name of the place where we often put mentally ill people? In Englandish we call it a “mental asylum” – more Latin! – but in Anglish we can already say “madhouse”. The problem is that “madhouse” seems somewhat pejorative (just as “whorehouse” seems to be; “brothel” being the “respectable” word [NOTE 2]). I personally have suffered mental health issues, and I have no qualms using the word “mad” of my own predicament; it was (is) my way of using humour to brush off the situation (‘Oh, I’m quite mad, don’t you know(!)’). But I appreciate that not everyone would want to handle their experience of mental illness in the same way. So let’s try to think of another word to replace “mental asylum”. Well, why not let’s, instead of saying “mad”, use what we have already come up  with – mindsick – and use “house” as we have been (that is, “a building associated with a specific activity, purpose, or occupation”): thus, a mental asylum is a “mindsickhouse“.

Physical Illness

Now, sicknesses of the mind are one thing, and another thing is sicknesses of the body. So where should these bodily sick people go? Well, a sickhouse“, no? Or, as Englandish would have it, a “hospital”.

Incidentally, “sickhouseis the word used in Swedish (sjukhus from sjuk ‘sick’ + hus ‘house’ [NOTE 3])

 One person who tends to you in sickhouses is the doctor. The word “doctor” entered our language around 1300, and by the late 14th century had come to mean “medical professional”. It essentially ousted our own word, “leech”, which has also stuck around in Swedish to the present day as läkare. I must confess that I’m so addled with Old and Middle English, so full of ye-diddly-de and hast thou-speak, that I’m not sure if “leech” is too far gone from our language so as to be unrehabilitatable. It does seem to have had some serious use until the nineteenth century, and continues even now as a jocular form amongst somewhat bookish types. However, “doctor” is, I would say, pretty well understood, and I’d reckon that 99 per cent of people on the street would never have heard of “leech” with the doctorly meaning.

The word for “doctor” is important as it leads us onto terms for other health professionals. For example, what do we call “dentists”? In Swedish the one says tandläkare, “toothleech”. But, as I say, I feel that leech is probably too far gone, and “doctor” is now so normal a word that we might be best to say “toothdoctor”. What about other types of medical professional, the podiatrists, psychiatrists, and even vetinarians? We should really think about these groups of professionals as a whole instead up coming up with individual terms piecemeal, but it is easy enough to see how plain English alternatives could be found; for example, footdoctor, minddoctor, and animaldoctor.

But let’s leave the names of professions for a separate posting, and instead move back to houses.

Spiritual Maladies

Sickness of the mind? Check. Sickness of the body? Check. Sickness of the soul?

The word “house”, unqualified and plain, can actually mean “religious building, house of God”. However, in this meaning it is usually put in the phrase “house of god”. The natural compound noun is, therefore, “godhouse” or “godshouse”. This is a good example of where using English roots can give us a neat word that we do not have an equivalent for in Englandish. What term do we have that covers churches, cathedrals, mosques, masjids, temples, and so on, if not “house of god”? Thus, godhouse.

General Health, Diet

Moving away from ailments and on to aspects of life which may or may not have health implications, I want to list some more formations using “house”.

Alongside “slaughterhouse” and “deadhouse” (as being “house” words ousted from English) are “bakehouse” and “deyhouse” which have now completely been replaced by “bakery” and “dairy”. The ending -(e)ry is from French. I find “bakehouse” quite a strong and admirably plain word; it is, if nothing else, a house of baking. But what is a “dey”? You might as well ask what a “dairy” is (which uses the same root, “dey”, but with a minor spelling change from <y> to <i>).

A “dey” is a female servant or maid (particularly one working in dairy), and the word is related to “dough”. The Oxford English Dictionary says “dey” is still around in “parts of Scotland” (how delightfully vague!) But anyway, the point is that bakehouse and deyhouse are good, plain, Anglish alternatives to current “bakery” and “dairy”.

There are several other extant -house words which have some bearing on our diet:

teahouse, coffeehouse, curryhouse.

Interestingly, there are a profusion of words for “place where primarily coffee is consumed”, and I am going to go off on a slight tangent now to discuss them. These words are: coffeehouse, coffee shop, café, caff/caffie and its synonym “greasy spoon (café/caff/caffie)”. The difference in meaning between these words is quite interesting and I believe not fully settled – an opportunity to set them in an Anglish mould, perhaps(!)

In my area (working classWest London), a caff/caffie, known as a “greasy spoon” by some, is the “traditional” English café with tea, breakfast, and so on, primarily focusing on food. “Café” refers more to a coffee house of some good quality (or supposed good quality); say, café rouge. And a “coffee shop” is a populist coffee drinking house which is not primarily for food (as a caff is), such as Costa, Nero, or Starbucks. All three types (caffs, cafés, and coffee shops) collectively are known as “coffee houses”.

Now, like I say, this is not a settled or universal usage, but it is an understanding of the terms which seems to extend beyond my own bedroom rooms and close friends, at least. In any case, it is three quite different, albeit closely related, types of establishment. So how we would render these words (concepts) into Anglish? Well caffs are already known as “greasy spoons”, which is pure English; Starbucks et al are already “coffee shops”, the latter word being English and the former being the word borrowed by a great deal of languages; and café could remain “café” or else become “European coffee shop”; and “coffee house”, the overterm for all three things, could remain as it is.

Final Thoughts

House is a useful pseudo-suffix whose use can be extended beyond just places relating to sickness and health. For example, “library” could easily be rendered “bookhouse”, “restaurant” could be “foodhouse”, and many other words besides are already attested: brewhouse (brewery), playhouse (theatre), filmhouse (cinema), distilling-house (distillery), eating-house (restaurant), bath-house, tap-house, and so on.

Often, a subtly different word can be made by using “shop” versus “house” where this is appropriate (e.g. coffeeshop vs. coffeehouse), or by using “room” (e.g. bookroom vs. bookhouse, where the latter is perhaps a public library houses in a building, whereas the former is a private or subscription-only library based in a room or a small number of rooms).

I see no real need for -ery or -eria (pizzeria, cafeteria, and so on) when we have words such as “house”, “shop”, and “room” to take their stead. 


Bryan Parry

April 2012



abattoir slaughterhouse

bakery bakehouse

brewery brewhouse

cafe coffee shop; coffeehouse; greasy spoon

cinema filmhouse

dairy deyhouse

dentist toothdoctor, toothleech

distillery distilling-house

doctor leech

eria house

ery house

hospital sickhouse

library bookhouse, bookroom

mental asylum mindsickhouse

mentally ill mind-sick

mental illness mind-sickness

mortuary deadhouse

prostitute whore; (euph.) working girl, working man

restaurant foodhouse, eating-house

theatre playhouse

vet animal-doctor, deerleech [NOTE 4]


[NOTE 1] “Abattoir” is a euphemism I find rather distasteful since it further removes us from the reality of what is going on, that is, the slaughter of animals. And I do not mean to say that I am against the slaughter of animals, for I am not, but I think it’s important to recognise, respect, and remember where these little parcels of meat come from. Dressing it all up in words like “abattoir” smacks of being an animal equivalent of something like “collateral damage”.

[NOTE 2] We do also have other euphemisms and humorous formations such as “knocking-shop” and “knocking-house”, of course.

[NOTE 3] They also say “läsaret”, the etymology of which I do not know. Someone care to enlighten me?

[NOTE 4] Deer is the homeborn word for “animal”, still used in other Germanic languages (e.g. Swedish djur); the original word for “deer”, therefore, is actually hart.

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