Wane’s World #Anglish #PlainEnglish

January 31, 2021

Wax and wane. This phrase means to increase and decrease, of the Moon mainly. So let’s stop saying increase when we can say wax, and let’s stop saying “decrease” when we can say wane. We can also say eke for increase, as in eke out, but I like to keep eke as a like-for-like (=equivalent) of augmenteke out being to over-augment or over-extend. 

Wanze is another great albeit no-longer-used word. It is the verbal form of “wane” in the same way that “cleanse” comes from “clean”, using the Old English verb-from-noun/adjective-forming suffix -sian. But how could we use this with a distinct meaning to “wane”? In Middle English, as a transitive, awanze meant to impair, diminish, to cause to lessen, to emaciate. Intransitively, it could mean to waste or wither away. Perhaps this could be some niche for (a)wanze, as well.

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Contain #Anglish #PlainEnglish

December 5, 2020

English has the Latinate word contain. What does contain actually mean? Spanish, a Latin language, also has this verb, contener, yet in Spanish the meaning is self-clear: con “with” + tener “have/hold”. Literally, “with-have” or “with-hold” (although note that “withhold” has quite a different meaning in English).

How do Germanic languages form a word for “contain”? Well, Swedish has inhåller, lit. “in-hold”. Dutch has inhouden, lit. “in-hold”. And German has… enthalten, which means… you get the point.

It’s looking like “inhold” (with the preposition used as a prefix, like “behold”) or “hold in” (with the preposition separate from the word, like “look up”) are the best options.

This glass inholds/holds half a pint in.

Sounds pretty good to me. As does “withinhold” or “hold within”, which perhaps makes the meaning more explicit.

This bucket withinholds/holds a gallon within.

Although, the simpler “hold” and “have” or “can hold/have” would often work better.

This bucket can have/can hold a gallon.

Derived words are easily formed, such as inholder and inholding. Not to forget other words we could use instead, such as “holder” or “box”.

In any case, with the words have and hold, and the Germanic formations inhold and hold in (and/or withinhold and hold within), I think we can do without the Latinish “contain”.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Worthful

May 23, 2015

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I was studying Swedish on Duolingo just now, and I was reminded of the lovely Swedish word värdefull. This is, quite literally, “worthful” and means exactly that: something worth a lot, i.e., valuable. Despite us using worthless, we don’t use the natural opposite, worthful (212,000 hits on Google set against 308,000,000 for valuable). Well, I for one am going to start!

There are two kinds of word which my Anglish project is very keen on: “forgotten words” and “hidden words”. “Forgotten” words are those which are no longer used even though they still make perfect sense. Worthful is a good example. And “hidden” words are those which are implied by other words or by the grammar of the language: I thought worthful would be such a word (implied by worthless), yet it turns out that it really exists. More on these two classes later.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

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