Bits 2: Attested Words #Anglish #PlainEnglish

August 22, 2021

Here are more words from my notes, another hodgepodge of randomness. These are all words which are attested with these meanings in standard English. Enjoy!

roup Scot, Northern sell by auction, an auction

redden rubefy, tubify

ruddy rubicund

meter ruler, measuring thing

behest command

behindhand opp. of beforehand

beholden under obligation

behoof

befool dupe

beget procreate

belike probably

belittle depreciate

jut projection

-house -ary (in a place sense, mortuary, library)

brawn muscle

© 2020-2021 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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Full- #Anglish #PlainEnglish

November 4, 2020

English is so full of it! The word “full”, that is. “Full” is the 513th most common word in the English language. And considering there are over a million words, that’s not bad going.

English likes the word so much that it has been co-opted as a common suffix: –ful.

But did you know that English can use “full” as a kind of sham-prefix, the first element of a compound. Essentially, it produces verbs and adjectives with the same kind of meaning as the self-standing word “full” and the suffix “-ful”, that is, ‘full of, having, or characterised by X’.

Sadly, we haven’t used it productively for a long time. It’s hard to see why, though, given the allwhereness of “full” and “-ful”. Here are some examples from Old and Middle English.

  • OE fulbrecan ‘to violate’ (full + breach/break, that is, to fully breach/break)
  • OE fulslean ‘to kill outright’ (full + slay)
  • OE fulripod ‘mature’ (full + ripened)
  • ME ful-comen ‘attain (a state), realise (a truth)’ (full + come)
  • ME ful-lasting ‘durability’ (full + lasting)
  • ME ful-thriven ‘complete, perfect’ (full + thriven)

Not all of these formations make much sense in Modern English, but it’s easy to see the power of this kind-of prefix use of “full” and how it could greatly widen and deepen the English wordstock.

Funnily enough, I have ingested one too many tomes of poetry over the years, and have long since been using full-, totally unthinkingly, for years and years. Perhaps I have already been spreading the seed of this affix.

Here are some put-forward words. Add your own!

fullbreach: to violate
fullripe: mature (note that “ripe” mostly fits well for “mature”, although there are cases where “mature” means almost-but-not-quite overripe, and in this sense especially, it seems “fullripe” is a useful word)
full-lasting: lasting the needed length. This is different to longlasting which basically means “durable”.
full-done: completed (successfully)

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

References:
https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=-ful
Davies, M. & Gardner, D. (2011) A Frequency Dictionary of Contemporary American English. Routldge, p. 35


Something Fishy #Anglish #PlainEnglish

October 13, 2020

Why say suspicious when you can say fishy? It’s a much more evocative word! This sense of fishy seems to come from the notion of slipperiness.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Feelingful Teeth

September 11, 2020

“John’s so sensitive!”

“Ouch! My teeth are really sensitive!”

If you (or your teeth) are sensitive, it means they have a lot of feeling. They’re really full of feeling. That is, they are feelingful.

“You’re more feelingful than your brother”

“He’s the most feelingful person I know!”

NOT: feelingfuller, feelingfullest. We don’t say “resentfuller” or “beautifullest”.

The negative can be formed with un-: unfeelingful. That is, “insensitive”.

That’s it! A new English word for you formed totally regularly from the tools already available to us.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

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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

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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

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Niche Topic: Much Thanks

May 9, 2018

This little blog of mine, Wrixlings / www.pureenglish.com, regularly gets dozens of hits a day and hundreds of hits a month. Given that I do not advertise this site, and I only tend to update it once or twice a month, and bearing in mind that it centres on a highly niche topic — a pure Saxon English –, I find the readership to be quite unbelievable.

So thank you to everyone who reads and (hopefully) enjoys this website every day! I dream of taking this site to the next level in more ways than one, but I just cannot find the time right now. “Anglish” is a lifetime obsession of mine, a meme I just cannot shake. I hope you all keep up this hobby (?mania) and carry on following this site.

My thanks to you all again!

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry


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

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Poetry #Anglish #PlainEnglish

May 5, 2017

Poetry, poem, and poet feel like such basic words, and Old English had such a great poetic tradition. Therefore, it’s a little sad to realise that we borrowed these words.

The word poetry ultimately comes from the Greek root ποιεω poieō meaning ‘I make’. In Old English, we had the words metergeweorc “meter-work” meaning ‘verse’ and metercræft “meter-craft” meaning ‘art of versification’.

Some senses of the word meter are ultimately from Greek, but some senses are from Old English. The homeborn, Germanic word is mete + er, mete meaning to measure (as in “mete out justice”). Thus meter is also Saxon word.

Poetry isn’t really about riming, but about the metre, that is, the rhythm and stresses. Therefore, meterwork and metercraft work really well for the word poem and poetry respectively.

A poet is clearly a meterworker or meterwright and/or a metercrafter/metercraftsman.

We also have the word skald which refers to a Scandinavian poet or singer of the Middle Ages — but we can easily take this word and update it for modern use (after all, “electric” comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning “amber”!) We might wish to spell this “scald” to show we have made the word English (and yes, the English word “scald” is indeed the same word as the Norse word skald! The link? Think how poets (and rappers) scald their opponents in verse).

Unlike in many languages, there is no deedword (verb) in English such as “poetrise”; that is, to do poetry. But with our Saxon forms about, we have no issue: both work and craft can be deedwords as well as namewords (nouns). So “I write poetry/I poetrise” could be “I meterwork/metercraft”.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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