Size, Temperature, Altitude, Age #PlainEnglish #Anglish #SaxonEnglish #PureEnglish

August 11, 2018

The words “size”, “temperature”, “altitude”, and “age” are all borrowed words: Old French sise (1300ad), Latin temperatura (1670), Latin altitudinem (1300s), and Old French aage (1200s). Why should words for such basic concepts be borrowed? This is particularly the case when we have words such as “length”, “height”, and “depth” derived from the adjectives “long”, “high”, and “deep”. Why shouldn’t adjectives such as “big”, “hot”, “high/tall”, and “old” give rise to analogous derived abstract nouns?

Note that we talk about “length”, derived as it is from “long”, even for short things. Likewise, we have: “height” from “high”, even for short things; “depth” from “deep”, even for shallow things; and “width” and “breadth” from “wide” and “broad”, even for narrow things. Further note that the biggest or positive polarity is taken as the default, just as elsewhere in the language; there is “happy”, “sad”, and “unhappy”, but “unsad” is marked and odd-sounding.

Therefore, as weird or comical as these may sound at first, I think the following are the logical and sensible Saxon English alternatives to their Franco-Latinate counterparts:

  • “size” becomes “bigness”
  • “temperature” becomes “heat” or “hotness”
  • “altitude” becomes “highness”
  • “age” becomes “oldth” or “oldness” (I feel that “oldth” is just about passable, despite -th no longer being productive, whereas “bigth” and “heath” don’t work for me on an intuitive level, and “heighth” is an informal, dialectal, and humorous form of “height”)

I feel that “altitude” is different enough from “height” that we can’t always use the latter instead; “what’s the altitude of this plane” seems to work, but swapping in “height” seems not to. But as so often is the case, the Latinate word is used where the plainer, Saxon word could be: “What altitude are we flying at?” can be perfectly well said as “how high are we flying?” My proposal of “highness”, just like “bigness”, “heat/hotness”, and “oldth/oldness”, should only be used where the more basic word is inappropriate.

© Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GTTWr2bpaK8/U7Qig_E-7qI/AAAAAAAAAYU/2N_-zH9upS0/s1600/Mercuric+thermometer.jpg


Skeletons #Anglish #PureEnglish #PlainEnglish

May 25, 2018

I quite like the sound of the word skeleton; it’s very “cellar door“-ish to me. It has a fairly quirky word-history. It comes from the Latin sceleton, which in turn comes from the Greek skeleton soma: literally, ‘dried-up body, mummy’. Therefore, being a Greco-Latin word, this project aims to replace it!

Early English forms were more English-sounding: skelton and skelet. These would make excellent bishop-shifted forms. But could we come up with a wholly English form instead?

First, let’s ask: what is the skeleton? It is the bony framework of the body. Therefore, a more Saxon name for it might be “bonework” or “bonywork”. Think network and such.

There are other extended meanings of skeleton, too. How might these be put into Saxon English?

  • In the sense of “bare outline”, “skeleton” can be replaced with… bare outline!
  • “Skeleton crew” therefore become bare outline crew, bare crew, or outline crew.
  • “Skeleton in the closet” becomes “dead body in the cupboard” — closet also being a French word.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://skeletonpictures.org/large/6/Skeleton-Pictures-6.jpg


Wright #Anglish #PlainEnglish

April 30, 2018

Shipwright, cartwright, wheelwright, playwright (not “playwrite”!).

The word “wright” is related to wrought and work. A wright is, in short, a worker. But as you can tell from the above words, “wright” really implies a kind of craftsman or skilled worker, not just a regular slogger. This is clearly a useful word, but only pops up in these historic and set formations, and as a last name (Ian Wright! Wright! Wright!).

This nameword (noun) comes from the deedword/workword (verb) to work. But given the difference between a mere “worker” and the noble “wright”, we might wish to backform a new verb to wright, meaning to work in the specific sense of crafting or as a craftsman.

Let’s take this potentially useful nameword wright, and our new idea of the deedword to wright, and see how we can use them.

A carpenter (from the Latin root carpentum)  is someone who works wood, but with the craft-like connotations. Woodworker is a nice formation; indeed, I try to smuggle this word into everyday talk. Woodcrafter or woodcraftsman work, too, altho I feel not as well. Workwood, like turnkey or sawbones, are also fairly neat Saxon alternatives to “carpenter”. But I think woodwright really gets to the craftsmanlike aspect in an unambiguous way. Old English had the form treowwyrhta, which is literally “tree-wright”.

What about the stone mason? “Mason” itself is Old French masson of unclear parentage; it may ultimately be from a German tongue or Latin matio. Surely, we could say stonewright instead. Indeed, the Old English word was stanwyrhta “stone-wright”. Personally, I really like the sound of this even more so than the above alternatives to “carpenter”.

Maybe “wright” could be regularly treated as the English equivalent to Greek tekton as found in architect. Therefore, perhaps architect could be buildingwright? The following words also work, but are more unwieldy: buildingcrafter and  buildingcraftsman. Old English had the nice form heahcræftiga “high-crafter”, but maybe that wouldn’t be as self-clear as “buildingwright”.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://thecarpenterandthecook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Carpenter.jpg


Latinglish Poem: Æstivation #PlainEnglish #Anglish

March 5, 2017

oliver_wendell_holmes_sr_c1879

Here’s a delightful poem I’ve come across that tries to use as much Latin as poem. The very opposite of my project. Enjoy!

Æstivation

By Oliver Wendell Holmes

1858

Æstivation

An Unpublished Poem, by my late Latin Tutor.

In candent ire the solar splendor flames;
The foles, languescent, pend from arid rames;
His humid front the cive, anheling, wipes,
And dreams of erring on ventiferous ripes.

How dulce to vive occult to mortal eyes,
Dorm on the herb with none to supervise,
Carp the suave berries from the crescent vine,
And bibe the flow from longicaudate kine!

To me, alas! no verdurous visions come,
Save yon exiguous pool’s conferva-scum,–
No concave vast repeats the tender hue
That laves my milk-jug with celestial blue!

Me wretched! Let me curr to quercine shades!
Effund your albid hausts, lactiferous maids!
Oh, might I vole to some umbrageous clump,–
Depart,–be off,-excede,–evade,–erump!

text of poem from http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/owh/aest.html
featured image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Wendell_Holmes_Sr.#/media/File:Oliver_Wendell_Holmes_Sr_c1879.jpg


Backbones #Anglish #PlainEnglish

February 15, 2017

image

We talk of someone having or needing to get a backbone. This of course means to get a spine. But we don’t just use “backbone” metaphorically; the word “backbone” has meant a literal spine ever since the early 1300s.

“Spine” is from the Latin spina. So a plain Saxon English / Anglish alternative for spine is backbone.

It then struck me that the backbone itself is actually made of lots of little bones: vertebrae. Each of these is surely a backbone, too. So we have backbones made of backbones? Or perhaps, made of backbonelings… I wasn’t happy with this wordmess. And then I remembered that knuckle doesn’t just mean the finger joint, it also refers to any (particularly knobbly) joint of the body. Thus, your backbone is made up of knuckles; or to be overly clear, back-knuckles. No need to use Latin spine or vertebra or that dodgy outlandish plural –ae.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.healthline.com/hlcmsresource/images/topic_centers/osteoarthritis/642×361-Treating_Spinal_Stenosis-Exercise_Surgery_and_More.jpg


Collaborate

November 14, 2016

3dbad47

The verb “to collaborate” can easily be put into plain English by saying “to work with”. Indeed, this is exactly what “collaborate” means in Latin: com– ‘with’ + labore ‘to work’. But what about “collaborator” and “collaboration”? The fairly useless word “collaborate” looks like it’s being buttressed by these two words, as well as by the negative, traitorous sense. Indeed, perhaps “collaborator” is slowly coming to mean something like “traitor”, and thus the time might be right for “collaborator” to be shuffled off.

We could turn the verb phrase “work with” into the phrasewords “withworker” and “withworking”. However, “with” when used as a kind of prefix actually means “against”; look at “withstand” (stand against, resist), “withhold” (hold back), and “withdraw” (draw back). The reason for this weirdly counter-intuitive situation is that in Old English, “with” (wiþ) meant ‘against’. The meaning of wiþ changed under the influence of phrases like “fight with”. The eremost (original) English word for the concept of “with” was “mid” — this still lives on in words like “midwife” (literally, ‘with wife/woman’).

So we have two choices here.

  1. Extend the nearly-dead usage of mid- to mean “with” and with- to mean “against”, even though it runs counter to how these words work when not compounded/prefixed.
  2. Write off current with- and mid- as relics, patterns too irretrievably lost to bring back, and make a new prefix with-.

Option one gives us midworker and midworking. Option two gives us withworker and withworking.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/7/005/068/2bd/3dbad47.jpg

 


Vitality

September 5, 2016

Vitality

Me and a mate were chatting with an Albanian guy we met. He mistook my Anglo-Mexican mate for Algerian. That happens to him a lot. I  myself was mistaken for part-Italian. That doesn’t happen a lot. In any case, I’m 100% pure English (read: white with a touch of lobsteritis).*

But despite being a homeland-loving Englishman, I was happy with being mistaken for half-Italian. I didn’t mind being taken for a southern European. Nor would my mate. We wondered aloud on this for a moment. I came to the conclusion that southern Europeans have a kind of… and the word “lifefulness” popped out of my mouth. That is, they’re full of life. Of course, the standard English would be vitality.

Vitality noun Lifefulness
Vital adjective (not in the sense of important) Lifeful

Lifefulness: another nonce word, like shadow-outline, that I think I’m going to use a lot more from now on in.

*My Welsh last name is not from a blood relative… except during Euro 2016, when I told people I was genetically Welsh.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cdn.tinybuddha.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Vitality.jpg


-yer

May 23, 2016

Lawman comic1-300

Lawyer seems like quite an interesting word. It has the agent noun ending –er, as in teacher and footballer, and the Old English root law*. Look closely: what the hell is the –y– doing in there? Surely the word should be *lawer (although I find this quite hard to say). As it happens, the ending isn’ter at all, but rather –yer. Whereas –er is the Germanic and homegrown form, –yer comes from French, ultimately Latin. (In most words it is actually –ier, but after a vowel or w it becomes –yer.)

Why add a French ending to an English root when we already have a perfectly acceptable form in –er? Simply put: 1066 and all that. A massive inflow of French words in –ier/yer followed. When you start looking, lawyer isn’t alone; there are loads of examples.

bowyer
sawyer
glazier (glaze + ier, from glass)
hosier
clothier
furrier
soldier
bombardier
brigadier
financier
grenadier
barrier
courier
courtier
terrier
croupier
dossier
hotelier

In many cases, one can simply swap out –ier/yer for –er (note: these are real, attested words):

bower
sawer
glazer
hoser
clother
furrer
financer

lawer

But in many cases, alternative formations just feel better:

bowman, bowmaker (the latter is the attested original form)
lawman (an attested word for lawyer)
sawer
grenademan (not attested, so far as I can tell, but for me it doesn’t raise any eyebrows as a nonce word)
hotel owner
bar
bomber

Some words are somewhat harder to find an obvious form for, however, for example terrier. We could be creative here; terrier is from the root terre, meaning ‘earth’, as terriers pursue their prey (badgers, foxes) into their burrows, into the very earth. Quite literally, therefore, terrier means ‘earth-dog’. I see no reason why we couldn’t use ‘earth-dog’ instead of terrier. However, this strays into the realms of making words up. And whilst I see a very real place for making words up, so long as they fit a Saxon English model, I always like it more when we use extant English words instead. Why? Because the words are tried and tested and more likely to be taken up and less likely to be perceived as outlandish or outrageous. And as you can see, many of the above -ier/yer forms have extant English forms.

Footnote:
*law is Old English, albeit borrowed ultimately from Old Norse, another Germanic language

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://tvnewfrontier.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/lawman-1961.html


Frequentatives: Crack and Crackle

April 13, 2016

snapcracklepop

CRACK AND CRACKLE

A crack of lightning.
Snap, crackle, and pop.

Crack and crackle are self-clearly close in both form and meaning. They both refer to a loud noise. But what is the exact relationship and the difference between these two words?

crack v. to break … make a sudden, sharp sound…

crackle v. to make slight, sudden, sharp noises, rapidly repeated.

So crack is a one-time sharp noise, whereas crackle is a similar noise repeated in quick succession.

FREQUENTATIVES

Linguistically speaking, crackle is the frequentative derived from crack. Frequentatives are a repetition of the action happening in quick succession.

In English, the morphological devices to form the frequentative are no longer productive. That means we can’t readily make new frequentatives. None-the-less, there are a great deal of frequentatives still found in English and still very much in use. It is/was formed by adding –er or –le to the word. Pat on the head. Patter of tiny feet.

One of my favourite examples: wrest, wrestle. Wrest means grab, pull, or seize: think “wrest control”. Wrestle means to grab, pull, or seize many times in quick succession.

FREQUENTATIVES IN -LE AND -ER ARE EVERYWHERE!

This appaently exotic-sounding form is in fact extremely common in English, although sometimes the non-frequentative and frequentative are slightly different in form. And sometimes the link in meaning between the two forms is no longer close. Here are just a few examples. I invite you to think about the meaning of each of the following pairs.

beat, batter
bob, bobble
chat, chatter
climb, clamber
clot, clutter
crack, crackle
crumb, crumble
dab, dabble / dapple
drip, dribble
daze, dazzle
flit, flitter
gleam, glimmer
gob, gobble
grab, grapple
hack, haggle
jig, jiggle
nest, nestle
nose, nuzzle
pad, paddle
prate, prattle
spit, spittle/spatter
throat, throttle(!)

See here for more.

WHEN -LE, WHEN -ER?

Sometimes –le is added, sometimes –er. Truth be told, I cannot make out a pattern for when one is used or not. Both forms seems to pop up in the same phonetic environments.

If we were to make new words in the frequentative, it might be best to go with whichever ending causes least confusion. For example, let’s invent a new word for to ‘constantly nap’, that is, to go in and out of sleep like an elderly person. The word would be nap plus either –er or –le. However, napper would likely be understood as a noun meaning someone who naps (baker, teacher, drinker). Therefore, we could say napple instead which would not have this ambiguity.

BUT THIS MORPHOLOGICAL DEVICE IS NO LONGER PRODUCTIVELY USED

But for some reason, despite the widespread use and usefulness of –le and –er to form frequentatives in English, this morphological device seems to be underused to the point of nowadays being extinct. Why is this so? Perhaps the common use of –er to form comparatives (taller) and agent nouns (killer) and the general occurence of –le with no discernible meaning (cattle, bottle, tale) took away from the force of these word endings and helped lead to their death.

Yet the frequentative is very useful, and nothing else in English quite captures the frequentative like –er and –le.

NEW WORDS?

The frequentative is used in so many words that still exist. And as you can see, quite often there is a clear link in form and meaning between the non-frequentative and the frequentative forms of a word (for example, crack and crackle). So for me, the frequentative is a classic example of what Project Wrixlings is all about: making use of extant Germanic roots and word-making mechanisms. New words can, and according to this project, should be made.

What words can you think of for new frequentatives? Here are some suggestions with Standard English translations.

nap: napple ‘to nap a lot, to go in and out of naps or sleep like an elderly person sat in their chair in front of the television’

shit: shittle ‘to shit in dribs and drabs like spittle, either solid or watery’

sip: sipple ‘to sip continuously from a cup without pause’ [this is how my wife drinks a lot of the time]

smack: smackle ‘to smack many times, esp. effeminately as in a ‘bitch fight’; to kiss all over as when playing with a child’

think: thinkle ‘to dance from thought to thought’

throb: throbble ‘pulsate, palpitate’

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/08.12/images/snapcracklepop.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


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