Hallowe’en

October 31, 2015

halloween-in-chester

The 31st of October is, of course, Hallowe’en (or Halloween, if you will). Seems like a bit of a made-up holiday to me. In the 1980s and 90s, it didn’t really exist in England. Of good to nobody much but retailers and robbers in the need of a cheap disguise. But thanks to capitalism, it’s beginning to take hold in England in a way it never has before. But it’s still a poor effort compared to North American and Celtic tries.

My abiding memory of Hallowe’en is going trick o’ treating for the first and only time as a twelve year old — only to be angrily reprimanded by a local sixteen year old that I was, “Taking advantage and greedy! Hallowe’en is for KIDS!” Translation: “trick”. Dried egg and flour is quite hard to clean… Aside from psychologically scarring events which are useful blog anecdotes, the only good things about Hallowe’en for me are, one, crappy horror films, and two, the Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror: the only episodes of that show that are still good.

But what is Hallowe’en? It ruffles the feathers of so many Christians I know. Yet it’s surely just harmless campy fun. Isn’t it? Hallowe’en was originally a heathen night for witches. However, the festival was, at least superficially, Christianised. So, officially Christian, originally heathen. But of course, Hallowe’en isn’t the only originally heathen holiday that was Christianised — but more on that in a couple of months’ times…

But anyway, Hallowe’en. What does this weird word mean? As my Mum told me when I was a kid, it is from Allhallows’-even. That is, the evening of all-hallows. Hallow being the older, homeborn word for “saint”. Think hallowed, which means “holy” or “sanctified”, and the verb to hallow, which means “to make holy or sanctified”. Holy is also a related word.

One of the principles of my Saxon English or “Anglish” project is the concept of “buttresses“. Just as a buttress stops a building from falling down, some words act as buttresses which support words and keep them from falling out of the language. Sadly, words like hallowed and holy and hallowe’en are not doing a very good job of buttressing the noun hallow, aka, “saint”. But I live in hope that the existence of these words will make that stout Saxon word hallow live again. That’s why I’ve taken to spelling out the name of this holiday — All Hallow’s Evening — and even dropping the noun hallow into conversations after having primed my listener with the words holy and hallowed.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image http://www.caffeatina.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/halloween-in-chester.jpg


Top Swedish Words of the Day

February 25, 2015

image

Swedish, being a Germanic language, may sometimes give us a model or inspiration for our true, roots, Saxon, homeborn English made of homeborn roots. 8sidor (‘eight pages’) is a Swedish newspaper. Today’s issue has an article about Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims regarding Iran’s capacity for an atomic bomb. Here’s some delightful Swedish words appearing in the article and possible Anglish forms based on them.

kärnvapen: nuclear weapon, lit. ‘kernel-weapon’
spiongrupp: spy agency, lit. ‘spy-group’
tllverka: manufacture, fabricate, lit. ‘to-work’

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry


Naked Snails & Threatening Chickens (The German Model)

November 17, 2014

german

German has some cracking words. It can sometimes be a model for us Anglishers to follow — although I have repeatedly and specifically warned against a Germanising English.* But the language does still give us some good ideas for word formations. Below are a few German animal names in a delightful chart.

These animal names are characterised by heavy use of compounding from a small number of roots. Could we follow suit in English?

I’ve personally got a bit of an –apple fetish; we used to use this word in compounds quite often and we could do so again. I mean, we’ve already got “pineapple” and “custard apple“. But what about those ‘love apples’ (French pomme d’amour) or ‘golden apples’ (Italian pomodoro, “tomato”), those ‘earth apples’ (French pomme de terre “potatoes”), or those ‘many-seeded apples’ (“pomegranate”, ultimately from Latin pomum granatum ‘apple with many seeds’, in Classical Latin it was malum granatum ‘seeded apple’).

So yes, let’s make more productive use of our own, homegrown, English roots, instead of borrowing words for everything.

Also, check out these two pages: http://www.babbel.com/magazine/german-animal-names-video and http://www.babbel.com/magazine/funny-animal-names-in-german

Enjoy!

image

*For example, see here.

images from http://www.babbel.com/magazine/funny-animal-names-in-german

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


Hypocrisy?

November 1, 2014

Vote Hypocrite

This blog is devoted to developing, discussing, and promoting a plainer and more Saxon English, an English with fewer non-native linguistic features, an English which maximises the potential of native forms. However, you may have noticed that this blog is also riddled with non-native forms — such as in the previous sentence!

The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus said the following (although he said it in Greek, of course): Your discourse will appear more impressive, believe you me, if [it is lived] … For it will not only be uttered, then, but proven.*

Or, to put it another way: “practise what you preach”. Show you mean business. After all, why should anyone take Anglish seriously if I don’t appear to take it seriously myself?

So why do I, apparently, refuse to practise what I preach? Why is my blog, dedicated as it is to Saxon English a.k.a. “Anglish”, full of its very antithesis: foreign-laden English, a.k.a. Standard English or “Englandish”? Why am I, in short, an apparent hypocrite? Surely it’s because I have no real faith in what I preach and I am therefore merely wasting time amongst men who don’t appreciate it (Epicurus again).

Far from it!

Basically it comes down to this: I either write in pure Anglish, and thereby potentially alienate prospective readers by a thick, dense, jargon (albeit a Germanic one), or I write in Standard English and in so doing, not erect an initial barrier to my message. So I go down the second route. My choice, frankly, is to try to lace my writings with Anglish. Sometimes, I will draw attention to such forms, and sometimes I will try to smuggle such forms in. Why? Well, at times it is helpful to flag up what you are doing and thus show how elegant true English forms can be. And at other times, it’s better to smuggle an Anglish form in so that people, perhaps only later or when it is pointed out to them, realise that this word is not, in fact, standard at all, but is in fact Anglish. This smuggling in shows that these word-forms work just as well.

But here’s the key.

Whether I’m using a word and flagging it up as Anglish, or whether I’m trying to smuggle an Anglish word in, I cannot deliberately unbalance my piece of writing by restricting my English unnaturally or by stilting it through overuse of Anglish. Also note that many Anglish words are ideas which may or may not actually work out. Anglish is a work in constant progress. And so if I go gungho into Anglish, in terms of the style I write these blog entries in, then I risk risible, unintelligible, Germanising or Germanicising English — something which I wish to stay away from. And also note that even well-chosen Anglish words, when used in mass, have the effect of drawing attention to themselves — something I often try to get away from.

So I don’t think I’m guilty of hypocrisy when I write in more-or-less Standard English. But I also don’t think all Anglishers should follow my lead, either: it’s good to have a mix of articles, some written in Standard English, some in Anglish.

Afterthought: An Anglish word for “hypocrite”?

Before I go, let’s think about the word “hypocrisy” itself. It basically means ‘doing the opposite of what you yourself say to do’. It’s therefore quite difficult to phraseword this notion. It’s also got a somewhat convoluted meaning-history, and so isn’t that easy to loan translate either. The meaning of this Greek word shifted over time from ‘separate gradually’, to ‘answer’, to ‘answer a fellow actor on stage’, to ‘play a part’.

So is it possible to come up with an Anglish form for “hypocrisy” and “hypocrite”? The other Germanic languages can help us out.

In German, we have Heuchler and Scheinheilige, which respectively are related to the root of “huckster” and the words “shine holy“. Swedish has hycklare, also related to the root in “huckster”. In Dutch, you say hypocriet, huichlaar, and schijnheilige.

Bearing all this in mind, we might wish to replace “hypocrite” with something like “huckler” from a new verb “to huckle”. This would certainly follow the Germanic model. And whilst I think this word words very well, it is newly minted and is therefore pushing the envelope a bit. How about the other Germanic path: “shineholy”? Again, I think this works quite well; indeed, it’s pretty elegant. But is it crystal clear? Not really, although it is rather evocative. But then again, was “foreskin” completely see-through when it effectively replaced “prepuce”? Yet the evocative “foreskin” caught on. I also like the notion of being holier-than-thou which is alluded to in forms such as Scheinheilige; those who protest their holiness are often hypocrites. Perhaps, therefore, “show-holy” — that is, holy for show, but not in reality.

Huckler. Showholy or For-show holy. What do you think?

 

Footnote:
*I’ve slightly paraphrased him here in order to make what he said make more sense for the context at hand.

featured image from http://standupforamerica.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/vote-hypocrite.jpg

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


Forbidden Fruits

September 1, 2014

wolfberry

There’s a weird fad for giving fruits (and other products of nature) odd foreign names. This seems to be because “foreign = exotic and cool” and, in portraying the products as such, salesmen can fool folk into buying more stuff.

George Orwell, of course, long ago marked and decried use of “Antirrhinum” for “snap-dragon”. Yet still they’re at it.

Take the humble wolfberry. Or should I say “goji”. I think “goji” has become so quickly and so deeply entrenched (I’d never heard of the word ten years ago, nor had anyone else, I reckon) that it’s almost completely wiped the poor wolfberry out [just in case you weren’t following, they’re the same thing].

But why?

Well, “gojis” are a “super food” hailing from the mystical land of Tibet. Calling it a “wolfberry” seems fine to me, but apparently it doesn’t tick all of the marketeers’ boxes. It’s just not as mystical, magical, and super as “goji”.

What else has succumbed or is succumbing to this foreign fruit naming fad? I can think of:

  • Sharon fruit, which is apparently now the “persimmon”
  • Ladies’ fingers, now “okra”
  • Blue ginger, now “galangal”
  • Prickly pear, now “fig opuntia”
  • White radish, now “mooli”
  • Long melon, now “calabash”
  • Soursop, now “guanabana”

These may seem like exotic ingredients. Which I guess in a way they are, although they are widely known, used, and available here in the world-inna-city otherwise known as “London”. But in any case, if we have an English word for the thing, why not use it? Why always resort to the outland and, yes, outlandish in a sad try at being otherworldly?

The English Never Have, Nor Ever Will, Eat Fruit

It’s a weird fact, but English distinctly lacks words for fruit. The only homeborn words being “apple” and “berry”. For this reason, we use these words a lot in compounds: strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, bilberry, raspberry, cranberry, and so on, whereas Spanish, for example, more often uses different roots: fresa, grosella, frambuesa. But despite our limited word roots, we none-the-less have many English words for these foods and so don’t need to resort to nonsense like persimmon (although, granted, many roots are ultimately borrowed, but have been “bishop-shifted” a.k.a. Anglicised, e.g., “pear”).

In short:

Let’s not give in to the “goji” or the “persimmon”; let’s keep making use of our ever productive roots (even those which are merely bishop-shifted).

 

featured image from http://cikipedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wolfberry.jpg

© 2012 – 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


Anglish the Mindworm

August 1, 2014

OHRWURM2

If you follow my blog, you’ll have noticed something by now. Asides from the inherently obscure, niche-like nerdiness of it, that is. Namely, I tend to have periods, lasting a few days to a few months, of fairly intense blogging, followed by months or even years of no activity whatsoever. This isn’t because I get bored of this whole Anglish thing and come back to it from time-to-time like a fatty* who pops back into the gym every six months or so trying to convince himself that “this time it’s for real”. It’s exactly because Anglish isn’t a fad or trend for me that I keep coming back to it. Anglish is just something I am. No matter how much time passes, no matter what dramas I have in my life, I always keep coming back to Anglish.

I don’t remember when I first started specifically discussing Anglish — my involvement long predates this blog. And I don’t know what caused my interest in it: although I suspect it’s a combination of (i) my lifelong desire to teach and explain stuff**, (ii) my artistic, creative side, (iii) my love of language and languages, (iv) my lifelong interest in conlanging, (v) my deeply-felt English patriotism, (vi) my interest in history, and (vii) a daydreamy, whimsy-like disposition of my character.

In any case, Anglish is a bug, it’s an interminable itch of the mind, an ongoing fever with periods of lucidity and peace and calm and others of sweaty, febrile psychosis. Frankly, it’s what I call a mindworm. That is, an idea that has burrowed its way into my mind, like some kind of hideous parasite. And it won’t leave its cosy new gray home. Sometimes it’s at rest, and I do not work much on Anglish. And sometimes the worm stirs or gets agitated, and provokes my mind to obsess fixedly on this notion of Anglish. But it’s always there, lurking beneath the surface, getting ready to derail my day by assaulting my mind with a barrage of new wordforms or ideas (and thereby preventing me from, say, taking out the rubbish, doing the ironing, or putting my pants on). For this reason, I’ll never leave Anglish even if I have apparent breaks from it. Or rather, Anglish will never leave me.

So there we have it: mindworm. I based it on the model of “earworm” — noun: a song or part of a song that repeats in one’s mind; verb: to work itself or its way into one’s mind — which is a loan translation of the German Ohrwurm. A related word: minditch. That is, a mental itch that one must scratch, an idea that causes you to come back to it. A minditch can be caused by a mindworm, or may arise through some other means.

So there we have it. Anglish, one of my greatest mindworms. To paraphrase Shakespeare: As long as I can breathe and I can see / This mindworm twitcheth and gives life to me.

Footnote:
*This isn’t offensive; I’m allowed to say “fatty” because I am one and I do pop into the gym every so often to convince myself that I’m actually giving it a fair go.

**A significant part of the urge to Anglish, is the urge to have a plainer, clearer English.

featured image from http://klangschreiber.de/files/2012/02/OHRWURM2.jpg

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry


New Animal Names (Bishop-shifting)

July 23, 2014

chimpanzee-jane-goodall-intro

I spoke before about a different way to make Saxon/true English words. Instead of coming up with outlandish new words formed from pure Germanic roots, why not simply anglicise current words? For example, instead of replacing electricity with something odd albeit beautiful like ghostfire or sparkflow, why not merely call it “lecky” (that is, an anglicisation of ‘electricity’)? The advantage? Such words are more familiar, more likely to be adopted, and often already are in use. I call this process “bishop-shifting” on the analogy of what happened in English to the Greek word episkopos (–>bishop). I discuss bishop-shifting in detail here: https://wrixlings.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/bishop-shifting/.

One application of this idea is to animals. Here’s a few animal names that I’ve bishop-shifted.

alligator –> gator, gater
This might have the slight smack of the southern United States, but let’s not be prejudiced against Southern Americans. The form gator/gater is so thoroughly English-sounding, I think more people should use it (just as we gladly use chimp and others).

The word “alligator” actually comes from the Spanish el lagarto [de indias] “the lizard [of the indies]”. “Gater” is, therefore, a bishop-shifting exactly analogous to, well, “bishop”. That’s because English words are generally stressed on the first syllable, so the first stressed syllable is taken to be the beginning of the word, and the rest is lopped off: alligator, episkopos (bishop). Note also what is technically known as the “excrescent” r in the English form — we say “alligator”, not “alligarto” which would be closer to the Spanish — just as “potato” and “fellow” have been altered to “tater” and “feller”.

chimpanzee –> chimp
Long-established short-form, this’un.

cockroach –> roach
The word “cockroach” is already somewhat anglicised; it was borrowed from the Spanish cucaracha. But roach is a now commonly heard, even Englishier form.

crocodile –> croc
Ultimately from the Greek krokodilos meaning “pebbles-worm”, apparently from its habit of basking on pebbles. We might wish to fully make this English by spelling it ‘crock‘.

elephant –> elpend
This might seem like a weird one, but I include it for interest’s sake only. You see, elpend was the form in Old English! And ivory was known as elpendban: ‘elephant-bone’.

hippopotamus –> hippo
Note that “hippopotamus” comes from the Greek meaning “river-horse”, and was glossed in Old English as sæhengest* ‘sea-horse’. Hippo is, indeed, what I call this animal: I don’t remember the last time I said or heard hippopotamus when discussing the animal.

kangaroo –> kanga, roo
I’ve heard both “kanga” and “roo” used, although my wordbook here only lists “roo”.

mosquito –> mozzie, skeeter
This Australian English word, mozzie, is a great example of bishop-shifting. I already use this myself; not from affectation, but because my whole family lived down under for years, and so it has always been a part of my wordhoard! The full form, mosquito, comes from the Spanish word meaning ‘little’ fly: mosca ‘fly’ + –ito diminutive suffix.

In the southern United States, they also have skeeter which is also lovely, but takes the other way round: lopping the beginning of the word off. Thanks to Natasha for pointing that one out.

Of course, we also have thoroughly English “midge” and “gnat”.

narwhal –> narwhale
A narwhal is a kind of whale with a long horn on its head. Truly majestic, like something from a middle-ages myth. The word comes from the Norse nahvalr which literally means ‘corpse-whale’ apparently due to the corpse-like colour of the whale’s skin. The spelling has already been made more English (hv->wh), so why not let’s go one step further? So narwhale is a half translation, just like English ‘iceberg’ which is from Dutch ijsberg which means ‘ice-mountain’.

pigeon –> pidge

The word pigeon comes from Old French and replaced the English word culver  (which was culufre in Old English), which itself was borrowed from Latin columbula(!) We do in truth have our own word for it, which is dove. The meaning of dove has now narrowed to a few kinds of pigeon in particular, pigeon being the general term (compare hound, which was formerly the overall word but now is only some kinds, dog being the overall word: altho note that “dog” has a murky birth but is likely homeborn in any case).

I try to use dove, and sometimes, half-jokingly, town-dove, street-dove, and rat-dove and ratty dove for the general greyish pigeons we get. Wood pideons, I always grew up calling woodies, or in Anglish wood doves.

But now to the bishop-shift. I have used, and heard from other people, the nonce/one-off word pidge enough times to put it in this list. It isn’t in the OED, but it is in Urban Dictionary.

rhinoceros –> rhino
This comes from the Greek meaning ‘nose-horned’. Who says the long form nowadays?

Conclusion 

This may all seem boring compared to exotic-sounding formations such as riverhorse or pebble-worm (the meaning of ‘hippopotamus’ and crocodile’ in the original Greek). But are you really going to start calling them ‘pebble-worms’…? And ‘riverhorse’? They look more like ‘swamp-whales’, to me. But ‘croc’: that might be a passable, truly English form.

I’ll add to the list in this post periodically. So please, come back in about ten years to see how it’s grown. Or just suggest words yourself!

 

Footnote:
*That is, hengest as in Hengest and Horsa, the legendary brothers who led the Germanic conquest of Britain after the fall of Rome. Hengest meaning “horse” or “Stallion”, the English equivalent which lives on in Swedish as häst “horse”. Wow, this blog is so informative, eh.

Chimpanzee image taken from http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/chimpanzee-jane-goodall-intro.jpg

Updates:

27.08.2014 cockroach –> roach

24.01.2017 mosquito –> skeeter; pigeon –> pidge

 

© 2014-2017 Bryan A. J. Parry


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