Government Latin Ban #Anglish #PlainEnglish

August 1, 2016

Gov_uk_logo_svg

The British government has banned Latin abbreviations on its websites. The Government Digital Service (GDS) has highlighted the need to more fully follow ‘plain English’ principles.

We promote the use of plain English on GOV.UK. We advocate simple, clear language. Terms like e.g., i.e. and etc, while common, make reading difficult for some.

Persis Howe, GDS content manager

Not everyone is happy, though. Roger Wemyss Brooks, of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, said the following.

Latin is part of our cultural heritage and it’s part of the basis of English. It unites us with other cultures throughout Europe and the world who have a connection with the Romance languages.

For my part, I think this is a good move. Particularly since most English speakers don’t seem to be able to use “e.g.”, “i.e.”, and so on correctly. As the Society for Plain English concludes:

We always suggest that writers remove Latin terms from all their text, particularly web text. Using such terms can suggest laziness and insincerity, and there’s never a justifiable reason to use them rather than clearer alternatives.

I have a general rule: if you do not know what “e.g.” and “i.e.” stand for (the answers are “exempli gratia” and “id est”), and you cannot be sure that all of your readership knows either, then don’t use them.

Goodbye e.g., i.e., etc., viz., hello example, that is, and so on, namely/to wit.

Also, read my article Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc Et Alia.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c8/Gov.uk_logo.svg/1280px-Gov.uk_logo.svg.png


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

image

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

 

 

 

 

 


For-

June 27, 2016

forgive_and_forget_by_ambar89-d3f5m3w

Forgive and Forget

Forgive and Forget are two of the commonest words in English (forget is 875th, forgive is 3629th out of around a million words) But what do the words mean? Okay, we know what they mean. But what do they mean?

Forgive means to ‘pardon an offence’, a sense which developed from the original meaning of ‘grant, allow, give’; note that give is the root.

Forget means to ‘lose the power to recall to the mind, to not remember’. The root word, get, means/meant to grasp. Forget, when you get down to it, means to ‘un-get’, not grasp, or lose something from the mind.

For-give and For-get

Mark the prefix for– which crops up in both words. What does for mean in these words?

For– is actually a prefix that used to be extremely common in English. Indeed, it maintains this place in many other Germanic languages including Swedish and German (ver-). It is no longer used productively in English. Which is a shame, as it is such a useful prefix.

The meaning of For

For– usually means ‘away, opposite, completely’. To expand on that, it implies (meaning 1) intensive or completive action or process, and (meaning 2) something going amiss, turning out for the worse, ending in failure. It often implies both senses at once.

So forgive is (meaning 1) to completely give. Whilst forget is (meaning 2) to fail to [mentally] get.

The prefix, which is common across the Germanic languages, seems to be an old development of the word fore, meaning ‘forward, in front of’. This development makes sense when you consider words like foremost, foreman, forthright. Yet for– and fore– have come to be separate affixes spelt differently.

Buttresses

I talk about the concept of word buttresses. That is, words or phrases or usages which support less strong words and prevent them falling out of use; indeed, which may reinvigorate their use. So there’s hope that some commonly used for– words might act as such buttresses. Unfortunately for the rather useful for-, whose power I first realised as a teenager reading poetry which clearly used the prefix with proper force, many of the common words in for– are rather difficult to break down into self-explaining parts. Take the following.

  • forsooth: completely (meaning one) + sooth ‘truth’
  • forgo: ‘refrain from’: (meaning one and two) + go: ‘to completely away go’
  • forbid: ‘prohibit’: (meaning one and two) + bid ‘command’ (think: “Do someone’s bidding”)
  • forlorn: ‘wretched’, originally meaning ‘deprived of, lost, abandoned’: (meaning one and two) + lorn, old past participle of lose; so, ‘completely lost’
  • forsake: ‘sake’, originally meaning ‘to struggle, dispute, wrangle; accuse, blame’

Let’s not forsake for-

For– is a great word-forming device. Sadly, it is no longer in vogue and many (?most) words in for– have fallen out of use. Why not let’s trying bringing them back? They’re great!

  • forblack adj completely black
  • fordeal n precedence, advantage; a store, a reserve; adj in reserve, in hand
  • fordo vb tr kill, put an end to life; destroy, ruin, spoil; abolish (an institution), annul (a law); do away with, remove (an immaterial object, esp. sin); undo, make powerless, counteract (poison, temptation, aso).
  • fordone pp exhausted, tired out
  • forgather vb intr gather together, assemble; meet (with); associate (with), take up with.
  • forold vb intr grow old, wear out with age
  • forpine vb tr & intr (cause to) pine or waste away, torture
  • forset vb tr beset, bar (a way), waylay, entrap (a person)
  • forshape vb tr transform, (rare) disfigure
  • forslack vb intr slacken; tr be slack in, neglect, lose or spoil by slackness or decay
  • forslow vb tr be slow about, lose or spoil by sloth, delay, neglect; hinder, obstruct; intr be slow or dilatory
  • forspeak vb tr deny; renounce, (rare) forbid; speak against, speak ill of; bewitch or charm, esp. by excessive praising
  • forspeaker n a witch, an enchanter
  • forspend vb tr spend, squander; exhaust, tire out
  • forstand vb tr oppose, withstand; understand
  • forthink vb tr despise, distrust; refl & intr repent (of), be sorry (for, that, to do); tr think of with pain or regret, repent of, be sorry for
  • forwander vb intr weary oneself with wandering, wander far and wide
  • forwarn vb tr prohibit, forbid [note the difference to forewarn]
  • forwaste vb tr waste, use up, exhaust, lay waste, make feeble
  • forwear vb tr wear out, weat away, exhaust
  • foryield vb tr pay, recompense, requite

And you could easily make up new words. Try it yourself. Just remember, it means to “totally”, but often with a negative sense. And remember, there

for-

(meaning 1) intensive or completive action or process; (meaning 2) something going amiss, turning out for the worse, ending in failure.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2012/160/c/0/forgive_and_forget_by_ambar89-d3f5m3w.jpg



Shadow-outline

November 24, 2015

image

A nonce word is one made up on the spot, for the occasion — a one-off, one-time-use word, as it were. Recently I wanted to say “silhouette”, but the word would not come to mind — so instead, shadow-outline plopped out.

I was immediately struck with how elegant and self-explanatory this nonce word is. I’ve tried slipping it into conversation, but that’s been quite hard — how often do we talk about “silhouettes”, in any case? But when I have used it, it seems to have gone down well. That is, nobody has noticed I’ve smuggled in a made-up word — and I seem to have been clearly understood(!)

So there we are. Shadow-outline. A nonce word worth keeping around, perhaps (if I do say so myself)? And it also does away with remembering how to spell that Frenchy word S-I-L-H-O-U-E-T-T-E.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silhouette#/media/File%3AMister_Bethany_and_Patience_Wright.jpg


Buttresses

September 15, 2014

buttressedit2

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


New Animal Names (Bishop-shifting)

July 23, 2014

chimpanzee-jane-goodall-intro

I spoke before about a different way to make Saxon/true English words. Instead of coming up with outlandish new words formed from pure Germanic roots, why not simply anglicise current words? For example, instead of replacing electricity with something odd albeit beautiful like ghostfire or sparkflow, why not merely call it “lecky” (that is, an anglicisation of ‘electricity’)? The advantage? Such words are more familiar, more likely to be adopted, and often already are in use. I call this process “bishop-shifting” on the analogy of what happened in English to the Greek word episkopos (–>bishop). I discuss bishop-shifting in detail here: https://wrixlings.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/bishop-shifting/.

One application of this idea is to animals. Here’s a few animal names that I’ve bishop-shifted.

alligator –> gator, gater
This might have the slight smack of the southern United States, but let’s not be prejudiced against Southern Americans. The form gator/gater is so thoroughly English-sounding, I think more people should use it (just as we gladly use chimp and others).

The word “alligator” actually comes from the Spanish el lagarto [de indias] “the lizard [of the indies]”. “Gater” is, therefore, a bishop-shifting exactly analogous to, well, “bishop”. That’s because English words are generally stressed on the first syllable, so the first stressed syllable is taken to be the beginning of the word, and the rest is lopped off: alligator, episkopos (bishop). Note also what is technically known as the “excrescent” r in the English form — we say “alligator”, not “alligarto” which would be closer to the Spanish — just as “potato” and “fellow” have been altered to “tater” and “feller”.

chimpanzee –> chimp
Long-established short-form, this’un.

cockroach –> roach
The word “cockroach” is already somewhat anglicised; it was borrowed from the Spanish cucaracha. But roach is a now commonly heard, even Englishier form.

crocodile –> croc
Ultimately from the Greek krokodilos meaning “pebbles-worm”, apparently from its habit of basking on pebbles. We might wish to fully make this English by spelling it ‘crock‘.

elephant –> elpend
This might seem like a weird one, but I include it for interest’s sake only. You see, elpend was the form in Old English! And ivory was known as elpendban: ‘elephant-bone’.

hippopotamus –> hippo
Note that “hippopotamus” comes from the Greek meaning “river-horse”, and was glossed in Old English as sæhengest* ‘sea-horse’. Hippo is, indeed, what I call this animal: I don’t remember the last time I said or heard hippopotamus when discussing the animal.

kangaroo –> kanga, roo
I’ve heard both “kanga” and “roo” used, although my wordbook here only lists “roo”.

mosquito –> mozzie, skeeter
This Australian English word, mozzie, is a great example of bishop-shifting. I already use this myself; not from affectation, but because my whole family lived down under for years, and so it has always been a part of my wordhoard! The full form, mosquito, comes from the Spanish word meaning ‘little’ fly: mosca ‘fly’ + –ito diminutive suffix.

In the southern United States, they also have skeeter which is also lovely, but takes the other way round: lopping the beginning of the word off. Thanks to Natasha for pointing that one out.

Of course, we also have thoroughly English “midge” and “gnat”.

narwhal –> narwhale
A narwhal is a kind of whale with a long horn on its head. Truly majestic, like something from a middle-ages myth. The word comes from the Norse nahvalr which literally means ‘corpse-whale’ apparently due to the corpse-like colour of the whale’s skin. The spelling has already been made more English (hv->wh), so why not let’s go one step further? So narwhale is a half translation, just like English ‘iceberg’ which is from Dutch ijsberg which means ‘ice-mountain’.

pigeon –> pidge

The word pigeon comes from Old French and replaced the English word culver  (which was culufre in Old English), which itself was borrowed from Latin columbula(!) We do in truth have our own word for it, which is dove. The meaning of dove has now narrowed to a few kinds of pigeon in particular, pigeon being the general term (compare hound, which was formerly the overall word but now is only some kinds, dog being the overall word: altho note that “dog” has a murky birth but is likely homeborn in any case).

I try to use dove, and sometimes, half-jokingly, town-dove, street-dove, and rat-dove and ratty dove for the general greyish pigeons we get. Wood pideons, I always grew up calling woodies, or in Anglish wood doves.

But now to the bishop-shift. I have used, and heard from other people, the nonce/one-off word pidge enough times to put it in this list. It isn’t in the OED, but it is in Urban Dictionary.

rhinoceros –> rhino
This comes from the Greek meaning ‘nose-horned’. Who says the long form nowadays?

Conclusion 

This may all seem boring compared to exotic-sounding formations such as riverhorse or pebble-worm (the meaning of ‘hippopotamus’ and crocodile’ in the original Greek). But are you really going to start calling them ‘pebble-worms’…? And ‘riverhorse’? They look more like ‘swamp-whales’, to me. But ‘croc’: that might be a passable, truly English form.

I’ll add to the list in this post periodically. So please, come back in about ten years to see how it’s grown. Or just suggest words yourself!

 

Footnote:
*That is, hengest as in Hengest and Horsa, the legendary brothers who led the Germanic conquest of Britain after the fall of Rome. Hengest meaning “horse” or “Stallion”, the English equivalent which lives on in Swedish as häst “horse”. Wow, this blog is so informative, eh.

Chimpanzee image taken from http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/chimpanzee-jane-goodall-intro.jpg

Updates:

27.08.2014 cockroach –> roach

24.01.2017 mosquito –> skeeter; pigeon –> pidge

 

© 2014-2017 Bryan A. J. Parry


Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc Et Alia

July 11, 2014

potd-boris-scotlan_3034990k

I love the English language in all its rich diversity. And so I do confess I like those little Latin phrases. You know: quid pro quo, exempli gratia, post hoc ergo propter hoc, and so on. I know what these phrases mean, and it makes me feel smart to know that I’m part of this little secret clique, like a nerdier version of the freemasons or something; I know the secret password, the special handshake. It also makes me feel smug when the uninitiated try to use our secret code and fail (that is, when they use the phrases wrongly).

But this is an unhealthy feeling; I laud it over others, when this feeling takes me, because I guess it gives me some validation to be part of the intellectual elite — or something. But I’m a teacher, and it’s in my blood to teach, to help people understand. So when reasonably well-educated people cannot even wield these Latin tools, we know there’s a problem. When I see intelligent people say or write “i.e.” when they clearly mean “e.g.” — something I see and hear a lot, I should say — then we know there’s something seriously wrong. To make matters worse, a lot of these Latin phrases only ever pop up in some obscure abbreviation that nobody seems to know the full form for. So let’s just skip these smug markers of elite cliquedom, and use plainer English forms instead!

Therefore, what follows is a list of a few Latin expressions, the abbreviation to go with them if applicable, their literal meaning in Latin, and what I think you should say instead of the Latinism.

Latin: exemplia gratia (e.g.)
Literally: for the sake of example
Say: for example (f.e.)

Latin: id est (i.e.)
Lit.: that is
Say: that is (t.i.)

Latin: et alia/alii/aliae (et al.)
Lit.: and others
Say: and others (a.o.)

Latin: inter alia
Lit.: among others
Say: among others

Latin: quid pro quo
Lit.: who for who
Say: something for something (s.f.s.)

Latin: ibidem (ibid.)
Lit.: in the same place
Say: same place/page/book/work (s.p.)

Latin: videlicet (viz.)
Lit.: that is to say, to wit, namely
Say: that is to say, to wit, namely

Latin: et cetera (etc.)
Lit.: and the others
Say: and so on (a.s.o.), and so forth (a.s.f.), so on and so forth (s.o.a.s.f.)

Latin: ad hoc
Lit.: for this [specific purpose]
Say: makeshift

Latin (well, Latin by way of French): abbreviation (abbrev.)
Lit.: made short
Say: short-form

Latin: anno domini (a.d.)
Lit.: (in) the year of our lord
Say: after Jesus’/our Lord’s birth (a.J.b./a.o.L.b) [the latter for the more religiously inclined among us]

Latin: post hoc, ergo propter hoc
Literally: after this, therefore because of this
Say: after this, therefore because of this (a.t.t.b.o.t.)

Latin: anno domini
Literally: in the year of (our) lord
Say: in the year of our Lord (i.t.y.o.o.l/ityooL), Lord’s reckoning

Please add your own suggestions. Like all of my posts involving word-lists, I will from time-to-time update this list.

Note: Clearly some of the forms I use (for example, “a.s.o.”) are not standard English; I have made them up or they are in use amongst proponents of a plainer, more Saxon English. And some of these alternatives are already standard, such as “that is” (although my short-form “t.i.” is something I’ve just made up).

 

featured image from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03034/potd-boris-scotlan_3034990k.jpg

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


The Bible

July 14, 2013

1425540421_b5f3bf70e0

So first off, I’ve been away for a while. A bunch of things have stopped me writing: getting made homeless and being in the final year of a degree have been at the top of that list, but these aren’t the only issues I’ve had. But I’m back on the horse and cantering along again, so hopefully I’ll post a bit more often now.

Speaking of the degree, I’m doing an MA in Christian Theology. As part of this, I opted to learn Hellenistic Greek a.k.a. “Koine” or New Testament Greek. This is the Greek of around 2000 years which the New Testament is written in.

I’m putting a lot of ancient Greek text into Modern English. So why not put it into plain, Saxon English, too?

What I’m talking about here is not merely going through a translation of the Bible, e.g. The Good News Bible, and replacing “Englandish” words with Saxon English. For that way we are merely creating a cypher for Englandish, as opposed to thinking directly in Saxon English. We would be, in effect, Calqueing the Standard English translation. Instead, why not go directly back to the original Greek text and directly put it into Saxon English without the mediating influence of Greco-Latin Standard English?

In reality, this is just a way for me to keep up with my Greek. But in another way, it really does make sense to translate from the original language, Greek, into Saxon English, and thereby think in Saxon English. That is, as opposed to going the long way via Englandish.

So, expect some passages forthcoming. I might be open to passage requests, but we see how time works out for me.

featured image from http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1133/1425540421_b5f3bf70e0.jpg

© 2013 – 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


%d bloggers like this: