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

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UK vs. USA

October 13, 2014

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Anglish, Saxon English, Roots English: call it what you will. But whatever you call it, it’s all about a plainer, more Saxon, homegrown and homeborn English, one which shies away from foreign and outlandish forms of English. It’s an English which prefers handbook to manual, foreword to preface, belittle to depreciate, and I like better to I prefer.

Therefore, sometimes we must opt for the American usage, and sometimes the British. As a patriotic Briton, this can rankle slightly. Particularly because when I come out with the odd Americanism — in order to further the cause of Anglish — my fellow Britons sneer at my perceived try at trendiness. And a little bit of my HRH-loving soul withers up. But if you’re into this Anglish game, you have to pick up Anglish words and usages regardless of their origin; nationalist sentiment has no place.

But note that both American and British English often get it right, a.k.a. Anglish, but often get it wrong. As the following word pairs show, neither seems to be particularly closer to our Anglish ideal than the other. Words in bold are the preferred, Anglish option.

UK / USA
aubergine / eggplant
autumn / fall
bonnet / hood
cashier / teller
drink / beverage
dual carriageway / freeway
dustman
/ garbage man
fringe / bangs
gearbox / transmission
ice lolly
/ popsicle
lift
 / elevator
manual / stick shift
mark
/ grade
nappy
/ diaper
parents / folks
pavement / sidewalk
people / folk(s)
queue / line
rubber / eraser
starter / appetizer
sweets / candy
tap / faucet
ticking over / idling
trainers / sneakers

Note that many of these words can and often are used in both countries, e.g., “beverage” and “autumn”. However, in such cases, there is a distinct preference for one over the other. For example, “beverage” is far more common Stateside than in the UK, and “autumn” is predominantly a British word.

So, to sum up. Anglish is not about favouring British or American English. Such patriotism must be left at the door when we do Anglish. Anglish needs to look at both sides of the pond, and indeed all around the world, for good, Saxon, homeborn and homegrown, English.

By the way: I still can’t bring myself to say bangs instead of fringe. Sorry!

[UPDATES]

flat / apartment
rubbish / trash
windscreen / windshield [screen is Germanic by way of French, whereas shield is straight Germanic]

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© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


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