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

featured image from https://barrylou.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/somethingFishy.jpg


Adumbrate #PlainEnglish #Anglish

October 7, 2020

Andrew Neil is a wonderful journalist and interviewer, but what is not wonderful was the use of the word “adumbrate” which he used on the 25th of September 2020. What does “adumbrate” mean? It’s from the Latin adumbrat- meaning “shaded, shadowed”. It has three meanings in English: to overshadow, to foreshadow, and to outline. What is wrong with these fine Saxon words? Nothing. Let’s bin off this Latin monster and use our plain English instead.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry


Parliament #Anglish #PlainEnglish #PureEnglish

April 16, 2020

I’m not saying that we should chuck the word “parliament”, but I would like to point out a few things.

First, it was borrowed from French as parlement. That pesky <i> that no-one, but the worst pedants, actually says. This is another case where we changed the spelling to fit with the Latin: parliamentum. So let’s drops the <i>, honestly.

Second, this word came into English as a direct result of 1066 and all that. So we might wanna chuck it altogether.

The word parliament just means “a talking”. Well, how about “talking shop”?

It we want to get all Tolkien-y, Parliament is literally the nation-wide council. Thus, land(s)moot fits well — that is, the moot (assembly) of the land (that is, country). Alternatively, as this is a democracy (sort of), (all)folk(s)moot fits quite well. County Council would become shire(s)moot, and local borough councils would change likewise: borough(s)moot. Then we have town(s)moot and so on where needed. To spell it out, moot means “council” or “assembley” (it’s related to the verb “meet”).

The Old English parliament, such as it was, was called the witenagemot (witena + gemot: literally, “wise(men’s)moot”. Wisemoot or Witsmoot might work as a new English form. Historically, we often call it the witan for short.

Parliament is made up of the King or Queen, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Perhaps we can call this The Folk House.

In Dutch, Swedish, Frisian, they use the French word parliament — although spelt the French not Latin way. In Norwegian they call it the “Big Thing” and in Icelandic the “All Thing”; “thing” used to mean “assembly, council” and the older meaning is still hinted at in the English husting: house-thing.

Members of parliament are surely those who meet in parliament. So following Swedish, we could call them Leadmeeter or Meeters.

© 2018-2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2a/House_of_Commons_2010.jpg/1200px-House_of_Commons_2010.jpg


Bible-speak #Anglish #PlainEnglish

December 26, 2019

The early Modern English of the King James Bible, the traditional Bible in English-speaking countries, is rather different to today’s English. See Matthew 6:1-2 below in the King James version.

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Now take a look at the same verses in the modern New International text.

‘Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. ‘So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Sometimes, the older version has homeborn words (do alms) whereas the modern version has borrowed words (practise your righteousness). And other times, it’s the newer version which uses homeborn words and the older that borrows (Verily but Truly).

None-the-less, the King James version of the Bible, still so familiar to us despite de-Christianisation and “modernisation”, gives us many homeborn words to stand in stead of the borrowings; the main upside is that even though many of these older words are no longer (commonly) used, they stay well-known owing to their use in the Bible. These words are, as I put it, “buttressed” by their familiarity as part of scripture. Here are some other homeborn words from the same passage that you may wish to swap into your English, thanks to the Bible.

Swap in: take heed for pay attention; do alms for practise charity; blow/sound your trumpet for announce it loudly; have or get for receive.

What other passages from the Bible can you find where the older text gives us words of English birth?

© 2019 Bryan A. J. Parry

image from https://pastormikesays.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/bible.jpg


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


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

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


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

featured image from http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/31100000/poetry-poetry-31167131-998-783.jpg


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