Smugglewords

July 18, 2016

hidden_words___1_by_x4nd5r

German has the wonderful word Schmuggelware. This means “contraband”. Literally, “smuggle-ware”; what better describes smuggled wares than the word “smuggle-ware”? I mean, what a wonderful, self-explaining Germanic compound if ever there was one! Ever since I came across the word Schmuggelware, I have loan translated it into English as smuggle-ware (with or without the dash) whenever I have needed to use the word “contraband”.

Smuggle-ware is therefore an example of what I call a “smuggle-word“! A “smuggle-word” is literally an Anglish/true Saxon English word, often made-up and non-extant, which I attempt to smuggle into the English language. In other words, I use the word and hope that noone notices that I have used a non-standard or non-extant word(!) Smuggle-words are characterised by seeming very English, almost as if they have been in use all along.

As I say, smuggle-ware is a great example of a smuggle-word. Others that I use are shadow-outline, forelast (“penultimate”), and self-standing. Indeed, my try at Anglish, call it “Project Wrixlings” if you will, is characterised by using Saxon English words and phrases that already exist — and where they don’t exist, they are so natural, often implied, that they seem like they really ought to exist.

Smuggle-words can also include words that are no longer in use, such as deadhouse (mortuary). A word such as “ghostfire”, one suggestion for a true Saxon alternative to the Greek “electricity”, would not be a “smuggle-word” as I cannot see how one would be able to smuggle that into one’s English.

So smuggling words into English, hidden in plain sight amongst normal (perhaps even highly Greco-Latinised) English, is another great tool to spread true, Saxon, homeborn English.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://img13.deviantart.net/ed94/i/2007/306/e/e/hidden_words___1_by_x4nd5r.jpg


Swedish Words of the Week

July 5, 2016

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Ah, Swedish, you beautiful source of inspiration. Doing Swedish on Duolingo constantly brings me face-to-face with some wonderful words, many of which work well in English. I thought I’d share some.

But first, a disclaimer!

As you may know if you are a regular reader of this site, I am thoroughly against Germanicising English. I do not believe loan translations from other Germanic languages are the default mode that we should opt for. Let’s take the word understand. In many of the other Germanic languages, the word translates back to English as “forstand”: Ger verstehen, Swe förstå, Dan forstå, Nor forstå. Clearly, loan translating doesn’t always work; English always has been the black sheep of the Germanic language family.

Therefore, I do not think loan translating from any language is our first go-to option. Rather, we need to look to the resources of the English language itself to uncover a richer, truer, homeborn English.

That said, looking to other languages can sometimes throw up inspiration. Here’s some more from Swedish. Note: the only link between these words is that they have all come up recently in my Duolingo studies.

bilingual adj. tvåspråkig ‘twospeeched/twispeeched’. Speech can mean language, bilingual means having two languages. I like. Incidentally, twi– is the old prefix meaning two, which by the way I think we need to bring back to replace Latin bi-.

change n. förändring ‘for-othering’. That is, a total (See forhere) ‘othering’… by which we mean, to make something other than it is. Indeed, we might well do with dropping the for-: (verb) to other, (noun) an othering.

citizen n. medborgare ‘withborougher/withburger’. This tongue-twister works quite well, although it feels a bit odd. Old English had burhsittend ‘borough-sitter’ and ceasterware ‘chesterer’ (that is, someone from a “Chester“). We could come up with our own forms, too. I think “fellow-townie” works quite well, and it sticks to the etymological root of “citizen” (compare “city”). Another one that I would like to put forward: “land-fellow” (“land” as in “country, nation”; that is, a fellow of our same land/country).

independent adj. självständig ‘selfstanding’. I have no qualms slipping this into my English right now! I think it’s a “smuggleword” for sure!

possible adj. möjlig ‘mayly’. Quite clear, right? Things that may be, must be mayly. English spelling rules would probably dictate “maily” (like “daily”), but as a new word it probably wouldn’t be understood unless spelt “may(-)ly”.

public n. allmänhet ‘allmenhood’. The Modern English noun came from the adjective, the Old English for which was folclic ‘folkly’, that is, of the folk/people. I think allmenhood works fairly well.

success n. framgång ‘forward-go’. Think: go forth.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Sweden#/media/File%3AFlag_of_Sweden.svg

 

 

 

 

 


Buttresses

September 15, 2014

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A Problem Outlined

There’s often a great ready-made true English word which could be used instead of the fancier form: can for to be able to, for example. Indeed, when we put can and to be able to next to one another, we might wonder why anyone ever says the latter.

I can speak English or I am able to speak English

However, forms like to be able to get support by being able to seep into territory that the true English words cannot. For example, we can also say “I will be able to” or “I may have been able to”, but we cannot say “I will can” or “I may have could” — at least not in standard varieties of English! Or what about the word absorb? Why not simply say soak (up)? Oh yes, that’s because we can readily say absorbent and absorbency, but we cannot so easily form the related adjectives and abstract nouns from to soak (up): upsoakingness? Yes, upsoakingness is possible (and I quite like it, actually), but it arguably doesn’t sound like an extant English word. For that reason it draws attention to itself and thus discourages its own use.

Forms of the Problem

As you can see, there seem to be two forms of such “seeping”:

(1) defective true English words which cannot be used in all contexts where an Englandish word can be;

(2) related concepts where no such form exists in true English, but it does for the Englandish root.

The existence of forms like (1) may have been able to and (2) absorbency, means that unneeded and un-Anglish words like to be able to or absorb are given extra support and periodically revitalised by association with may have been able to and company. Indeed, utterances such as I am able to speak English are thoroughly buttressed and stopped from ever falling down — despite their ungainliness.

Causes of the Problem

This is unfortunate, and seems to be the result of a few things, including:

1. Defective or unclear English morphology: lung (noun) –> ?lungish (adjective); *upsoaking: adjective or abstract noun or verbal noun or verb?

2. A hesitancy in English, relative to other Germanic languages, to put prepositions at the beginning of a compound: ?upsoakingness.

3. Heavy use of phrasal verbs which, firstly, have been shunned historically as uncouth and thereby discouraged, and secondly, are not wont to form derivatives (see “2”): tolerate –> tolerance and put up with –> ?put-up-with-ness

Part of this problem has been caused by the influx of outland words into English. If we’d never gone so gungho down this borrowing path, we would likely have remained as German and Swedish have, and therefore not have this problem. There would, of course, be the odd time where due to natural process within the language, we would have to borrow a form: I don’t know if we can blame the ungrammaticality of I might have could on the word-borrowing fetish of the English language.

Solutions?

  • Use non-standard forms like I might have could unflinchingly and without remorse.
  • Come up with slightly uncouth forms like upsoakingness — again, unflinchingly and with no remorse — but make sure you aren’t being too clever for your own good. The Anglish Moot, which I helped set up, has some great work on it — and also some of the overclever stuff I am talking about (such as umbethinking).

And that’s all for today, folks…

What!? But it can’t be! Where’s the inspirational ending and summing up?

Well, it seems to me that so long as Anglishers are aware of the problem I’ve outlined in this post, they will be more sensitive to not just oversetting stand-alone words, but rather to taking words as being members of families or groups of words used in many contexts. It’s not enough to simply say, “don’t say to be able to, say can instead” because we simply can’t say can a lot of the time! We need to be attacking the problem holistically, as well. Words exist in the context of other words, and many unfit words are supported by the buttress of far more useful, yet merely derived, words or phrases (such as would have been able to).

 

featured image by Bryan A. J. Parry edited from image at http://passport2design.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/flying-buttressdiagram-batuhijauschool.org_.jpg

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


The Secret Vice

April 13, 2012

So, what’s this blog all about, then?

Well, unfortunately, I am a rather sad little man who derives pleasure from making up languages.

Wot??

Yes, I invent languages. For fun(!)

What’s even more unfortunate is that my name isn’t “J. R. R. Tolkien”, and so I won’t make a penny from this. It really is a total and complete waste of time(!)

J. R. R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, spent most of his life creating languages. You may not know this, but he didn’t make up his languages in order to flesh out his books; rather, he wrote his books in order to flesh out his languages! Yes, read that sentence again. Y’see, languages, real languages, actually have speakers and peoples and cultures behind them. So, Tolkien’s approach may seem perverse, but it actually makes sense; Quenya, Sindarin, Westron and all his other languages could never hope to achieve any authenticity or depth unless there were people to speak the languages. And people have cultures. And nations. And religions. And history. Lots and lots of history. And thus an epic was born.

Tolkien called his hobby the “secret vice”. It’s my secret vice, too. I used to think I was the only person in the world who did this type of thing. And then I discovered Tolkien (aged eleven or twelve). Since then I’ve found out that there are plenty more odd-balls like me out there. They mostly call it “conlanging”. So I guess I’m a “conlanger”.

But I don’t just make languages up from scratch. I like playing with language in all sorts of ways, including “legitimate” hobbies like poetry writing.

So then, this blog will talk about “conlanging” and creative and artistic use of language and linguistics. I’ll mostly focus on my own projects which include: Germanic / “Pure” forms of English, international auxiliary languages, and “artistic” languages for my own fantasy world. I’ll also make forays into other people’s projects and languages and linguistics in general.

So if that sounds like thrilling fun, then stick around! But if it sounds like the deranged ravings of a tedious bore, then you probably aren’t reading this sentence, anyway.

Enjoy!

Bryan Parry

April 2012


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