Natural Functions Part One: Shitting #Anglish #PlainEnglish

August 17, 2016

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Eating, drinking, shagging, shitting: what could be more natural than these four things? In this post, I’ll be taking a look at the fourth: shitting.

It’s always irked me that on public toilets, the lock reads “engaged” or “vacant”. Why not the Saxon English “busy” and “free” instead?

imageThe room itself is a “toilet”, which is a French word. In British English, we half-jokingly call it the “bog“, a solid Saxon word (in heart, if not in genes!). I say “half” jokingly, as this is more-or-less the go-to word that I use!

Americans call it the “bathroom” when they’re being polite — another true English word. But I find this usage ridiculous: my answer to, “Where’s the bathroom?” is, “Oh, off for a bath are we?”… or, at least, that would be my answer if I wasn’t so English and well-mannered! I’ve also heard “restroom” — more Saxon English.

In Britain, we can also call it a “lav/lavvy” or a “loo“. The former comes from Latin lavatorium, but is a bishop-shifting thereof, so isn’t too bad. And the latter’s birth is unclear, but may be a pun on “Waterloo” (as in, “water closet”) or from the French lieux d’aisances.

imagePeople I know, including me, often call it a “shithouse“, more salty Saxon, although many would find this rude. And when a toilet it outside, we all call it an “outhouse” — Saxon wins yet again. And we see again how great -house is!

Of course, in many languages and not just English, it is known as a “WC“, short for “water closet”. “Water” is good Saxon, but “closet” is French; we could say the “C” stands for “cupboard”, too. “Cupboard” of course refers to shelves (boards) with cups on them, yet “Cupboard” now just refers to any small room/inbuilt storage space. (mark well: it’s true that “cup” is Latin, but it was borrowed in the Old English period and throughout the Germanic languages).

And then there’s “little boys’ room“, “powder room”, and I often use “my thinking room” — as it seems to be the only place I can get peace and quiet at times! — or “newspaper reading room”. Although “powder” isn’t homeborn English, and “boy” might not be Germanic.

In any case, plenty of choices other than “toilet”.

imageThe porcelain thing you sit on itself is also known as a “toilet”. And in Britain, we use “bog” to refer to the place you sit as well a the room. I often call it, jokingly, a “glory seat” — though “Glory” isn’t homeborn English (“wuldor” was our own word, but that is deader than Harold II). “Shit-seat“, “shitter“, “shit-hole” (although mostly in metaphorical use) are words I use, and I have heard “crapper” and “crap-stool“. Therefore, “shit-stool” should work. You may have noticed that in polite English we refer to one’s “stools”; this literally comes from the word “stool” (which is the homeborn and original general use word for “chair”). Yes, historically, the toilet thing itself was known as a “stool“. But I actually think I might like to keep “shit-stool” to gloss “commode”! Or perhaps, on the analogy of the “bed-pan”, a “commode” should be a “seatpan” or “stoolpan“.

imageIn public men’s toilets, there is often the urinal as well. When it is a bowl, that is for individual use, I call it a “pissbowl” or a “weebowl“. When it is a trough, a long one for several men, I call it a “pisstrough” or a “weetrough“. “Urine cakes” are, of course, “weecakes” or “pisscakes” — or, as a euphemism, “yellow-cakes” (as most are yellow).

imagePosh houses, and European houses, also have a bidet. William Barnes, the nineteenth century poet and one of the Gods of the Anglish movement, came up with the unbestable word “saddle-bath“, for it is literally a bath which you saddle. I used to call it a “bum/bottom-sink”, but “saddle-bath” is so much better.

Speaking of which: please, American cousins, stop saying “basin” and “faucet”; use the true English “sink” and “tap“.

imageBy the way, we wash our hands with “soap”, but we wash our hair with “shampoo”. Now, I don’t mind “shampoo”; it’s a lovely left-over part of our hundreds of years in India (for it is a Hindi word champo). But why not just say “hairsoap“? By the way, I do often say that.

And last of all, what do we do in the bog? Or at least, what are we meant to do! Defecate/defecation and excrement, urine/urinate and micturate/micturition are unacceptable nonsense. I like it better when folk call a “spade” a “spade”: it’s “shit(e)” and “piss“, guys (both noun and verb).

But if you can’t bear such words, we have other Saxon softer words.  These include “poo“, “plop“, “dung“, “number two“, “turd“, and we’ve already met “stool” and its verb form “pass a stool“. For the other thing, we have “wee“, for a noun and a verb, and the verb “pass water“.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured images from:

http://www.51allout.co.uk/2012-06-02-australias-batsmen-the-last-of-the-summer-wine/toilet-engaged-sign-007/

http://www.nhdfl.org/about-forests-and-lands/bureaus/natural-heritage-bureau/photo-index/SystemPhotos/kettleholebogsystem.aspx

http://vogeltalksrving.com/2012/06/bear-pulls-camper-from-outhouse/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilets_in_Japan

http://rebrn.com/re/my-community-colleges-air-fresheners-2541978/

http://m.wikihow.com/Use-a-Bidet

http://uncrate.com/stuff/rude-man-hair-soap/


Government Latin Ban #Anglish #PlainEnglish

August 1, 2016

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 


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


-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

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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


Holiday

August 20, 2015

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My sorries to everyone: no meaty update this month. I went abroad for a friend’s wedding; then I went away for my own summer holiday; and now I’m going abroad for another friend’s wedding(!) Quite literally three weeks abroad in a six week period: the most I’ve ever wayfared. This high-roller lifestyle means I haven’t really had time to write a good blogpost. So sorry about that!

Just one thought.

Madonna had a song called Holiday. And one of my favourite bands, Vampire Weekend, also have a song so named. Both are American.  Any chance that Saxon “holiday” might one day push out Latin “vacation” in North America?

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.abilitysuperstore.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Summer-holiday.jpg


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