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

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-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]


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.

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© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry


December 13, 2014


But the way the world is, and the way that there’s more and more people, more and more doctors are needed — I mean, it’s already happening now that people are doing jobs now that they’re not really qualified for because they get, they get sort of, err.. what’s the word.. sort of uppered too early.
Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Podcast Bonus Disc Track 3

I love the comedy of Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant (creators of The Office) and their collaborations with their friend Karl Pilkington. But they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea; critically acclaimed and hated in equal measure. But anyway, I love listening to the three of them and their podcasts.

Karl Pilkington sometimes comes out with very Northern or very made-up words which are amusing (to me, at least), such as “wroted”, “pikelet”, and “badder”. And he gets mocked by Gervais and Merchant for this. However, when I recently heard him say “uppered” to mean “promoted” (as in a job), I had to pause the podcast.

It was beautiful, it was perfect. Gervais mocked him, said that it was primitive language. But I think it’s great. I mean, we do say “to down [the drink/ship]” and “to up [the stakes]”, which are prepositions turned into verbs. And we have similar adjectives to “upper” also turn into verbs such as “to lower”. So why not “to upper”? Of course, “to upper” could mean any number of things and might not needfully mean “to promote”. But I don’t see anything against the rules of English in making a verb “to upper”, from the adjective “upper”, with the meaning “to promote [in a job]”.

I momentarily thought that we might say “to higher” instead, but that would get mixed up with the same-sounding “to hire”. Speaking of which, why do we bother with “to employ” at all when we can equally say “to hire” and “to give work to”? Also, why say “job”, but we can usually say “work” instead or “workplace” instead?

I think it’s about time that we demystify and dejargonise the workplace (particularly important considering the topic of my piece “Rationalisation Measures“).

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© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

Fighting Latin With Latin

December 12, 2012

In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit…

In trying to come up with true English (a.k.a. “Anglish”) alternatives to Hellenised, Latinised, or Frenchified English (hereafter, “Fancy English”), we risk overstepping the mark  into ye olde Englyshe land and sounding like Frodo Baggins. A randomly drawn example of what I’m talking about here comes from The Anglish Moot. It lists “pacifist” along with its Anglish counterpart: frithweaver(!) This sort of thing does our cause no good, as it makes us seem cranky, twee, and disconnected from reality (which we may well be, but we can’t let them know that!)

So, how could we sidestep such weirdy-beardy English whilst coming up with real English alternatives to fancy English? Well, why not let’s just adapt these “fancy” English words to true English word patterns?

But how would this work? First, we should look at what Anglishers currently do.

Reinventing the wheel a.k.a. English is NOT the Edda

Let’s take the word “electricity”. This is, both in the spelling and the saying, clearly an “educated” borrowing into English. From our standpoint, it is problematic because it neither sounds truly English, nor is it derived from English roots. Furthermore, it adds fuel to the intellectual fire that only Latin, Greek, or French can express highminded concepts; true English, on the other hand, being fit only to express base notions.

So what shall we do? Those of us interested in Anglish/True English/Roots English (call it what you will) would come up with a new word for it, of course. Amongst those that I have heard is the rather poetic and evocative ghostfire. Supposedly, this is a loan oversetting from Icelandic (altho the wordbooks I’ve looked in say that rafmagn refers to “amber”, just like the word “electricity” itself, and has nothing to do with ghosts or fire). However, surely this word is a non-starter. Yes, it is evocative. Yes, it is expressive. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, it is English. But let’s get real: is anyone really going to give up “electricity” for “ghostfire”? I doubt it. I doubt the legs of this word for a few reasons, but the biggest of all is that it simply cannot be “slipped into” a sentence. It is so different, so powerfully striking, that it draws attention to itself quite self-consciously.

Another word I’ve heard (I believe from  my brother-in-Anglish arms, Chris Chamberlain) is sparkflow. We all know what a “spark” is. But the idea for the word also comes from “sparky”, which is British slang for an electrician. Now this I feel is moving more in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong: I would love for ghostfire to take off, but… not gonna happen.  I feel that sparkflow, on the other hand, has most of the positive attributes of ghostfire and is easier to “slip in” without drawing wry looks. Furthermore, it kind of has the ground partially laid for it in the aforesaid, widely-used word “sparky”. But despite these ups, sparkflow may be as misborn as ghostfire. Why? Because it obviously is a new word, of course, and draws attention to itself as such.

Biting the bullet

So what are we to do?

It seems to me, no matter how it may rankle the romantic inclinations of many an Anglisher, we are probably best just adapting these Greek, Latin, and French words to English forms (as I alluded to earlier). If that may seem like a cop-out, it most certainly is not. We’ve been doing this since forever. Let’s look at one olden example.

The word “bishop“, odd as it may seem at first glance, was borrowed from Latin episcopus (itself borrowed from Greek ἐπισκοπος episkopos: hence English words such as episcopal). We modified this word along Germanic lines by dropping the e- and the -us, changing the “p” to a “b” (note: /p/ is not a homeborn Germanic sound and was consequently disfavoured in some early borrowings), and giving it word initial stress.

So, instead of ghostfire or sparkflow, and along the lines of “bishop” which comes from episcopus, we could have lecky. And why not? This is a widely used and ready-made Anglicisation of “electricity”. It has broad currency and acceptance.

With “lecky” as a model, below is a list of a few words to demonstrate the point. They are given first in Englandish, secondly in Germanicising/ye olde Anglish, and lastly in real, de facto true English, merely phonologically adapting the forms to a more English base:

electricity ~~ ghostfire, sparkflow ~~ lecky

tobacco ~~ *pipeweed, *weed ~~ backy

potato ~~ *earthapple ~~ tater, tatty, tat, pot

banana ~~ ??? ~~ narna, nanny

tomato ~~ *loveapple ~~ tom, mater, tomater

moustache ~~ e.g. “lipbeard” ~~ ‘tache/tash, mo

cucumber ~~ *earthapple ~~ cumber

In Conclusion…

To sum up, then, I’m not saying we shouldn’t give wonderful words such as “ghostfire” or “sparkflow” a go, but we should just get used to — and, indeed, embrace! — the idea that Anglicising fancy English is more likely to yield successful English-sounding words.


Use of “mo” seems to be spreading due to the popularity of “Movember”. Also note the above ye olde englyshe words marked with a star (*) are historically attested with those meanings in English.


So, whenever I come up with new words, I’ll add them here instead of making new posts. I’ll put the date of edit in brackets. Non-attested words will be marked with a star (*).


broccoli -> brockle (16.05.2018)

cauliflower -> cauli, colly (16.05.2018)

comfortable -> comfy (16.05.2018)

confess -> fess up (03.08.2013)

cucumber -> cuke (Note: I have heard this used), cumber (16.05.2018)

didgeridoo -> didge (03.08.2013)

mobile telephone –> mobile phone, mobile, moby (16.05.2018)

omnibus -> bus (16.05.2018)

pigeon -> pidge (Note: humorous, child-talk) (03.08.2013)

perambulator -> pram (16.05.2018)

telephone -> phone (16.05.2018)

television -> telly, TV/teevee (16.05.2018)

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]


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