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The Anglish Moot

History of Anglish

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Eng This article is intentionally written in English. Please do not translate it into Anglish.


The history of Anglish is over eight hundred years long and has taken on many shapes throughout that time. Although the name Anglish (New-English) was only invented in 1966, the core idea has been repeated by many writers since the 1100s forward. The changing status and condition of English through the ages has necessarily influenced the viewpoint of commenters at any specific time.

The differences between these views allows the history of Anglish to be broken into two periods: ancient and modern. The former period was a time when English was a low status language actively absorbing many words from French, Latin and Greek; and in the latter period, English had already been greatly affected by borrowings from outside, and yet had itself reached the level of a high status language.

In the Anglo-Saxon periodEdit

Before the Norman Conquest, the West Saxish dialect of English, following the Athelwoldian reforms, was in the position of being the 'official language' of the English state. It was used in most civil affairs, and had a large and growing literature. Latin, as in many other countries in Europe, was the language of the church and religion, and though borrowing into English did occur, it was relatively small scale and somewhat restricted to religious terms. During the kingship of Edward the Confessor, more French people, and therefore more of the French language, was present in court. French words entered English, but again, not in great numbers, and mainly as 'additions' to the vocabulary, rather than replacements.

After the Norman Conquest, the top level of English society was replaced by people who spoke French. At first English was still used in many civil contexts, but in time, French essentially became the language of the state. It was foreseen that those engaged in higher cultural, social, and civil spheres would be able to speak French. It was needed for those English people who wished to be active in those areas to learn French as an additional language. English people lower down the social scale did not have the resources to learn French properly or at all, and so were outside national cultural and social spheres. Many words of French origin filtered down from the elites to the common person, who adopted them in trying to achieve, or at least seem to achieve, the mark of a high-status language.

Vernacular writersEdit

It is against this backdrop, which lasted till the mid-1300s, that writing in English re-emerged. By that time, the West Saxish had been replaced by the Anglian dialect of the East Midlands. That work was aimed at providing literature to English people in their vernacular tongue, involving not only writing in English, but also taking care not to use any word of French (or other, such as Latin) origin, which potentially would not be understood by the audience.

The OrmulumEdit

The first example of this kind of work that we have is from 1180, and is called the Ormulum, after its writer, a Lincolnshire monk by the name of Orm. It is a homily cycle, intended to be read in portions to accompany readings from the Bible in church. The congregation of the church, which could be foreseen to include many people who spoke only English, is the target of Orm's work. The language of the book holds many words from Old Norse, which had begun to influence English many centuries earlier, but very few from Old French, despite their appearance on the contemporary Peterborough Chronicle.

Layamon's BrutEdit

A few decades later, in about 1215, Layamon, a priest from Worcestershire, wrote a translation of Wace's Roman de Brut. He deliberately wrote in a very archaic form of English, shunning the changes which were happening to English at the time. Again, the work mostly uses Anglo-Saxon derived vocabulary, and though French words are present, they are relatively few in number.

The work was a success, being copied and read by many people, and influencing later English writers. However, copyists often altered his language and vocabulary to include more French words.

Ayenbite of InwitEdit

The last work from this period is from 1340, and is called the Ayenbite of Inwit (literally, 'The Remorse of Conscience'). It is a translation of the French work Somme le Roi, a treatise on Christian morality by a Kentish monk named Michael. He preferred to translate difficult French and Latin terminology into English, even if that meant creating new words for the purpose. However, there is still a large number of borrowed words in the work, though many of these date from at least a hundred years earlier, and show how English had already been influenced by French and Latin.

Inkhorn ControversyEdit

John ChekeEdit

Roger AschamEdit

Thomas WilsonEdit

Modern Anglish (New-English)Edit

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