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The Anglish Moot

What is Anglish?

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


The object of Anglish/New English is:

English with fewer words borrowed from other languages.

But beyond this ambition, there is a wide range of personal interpretations of what constitutes Anglish (New-English). Some may only wish to write making the best of such true English words as are available, avoiding borrowed words where possible, but accepting them where necessary. Other may wish to remove all those borrowed words, and where there is no existing alternative true English word, to invent an entirely new word to go in its place. These are perhaps the two most widely differing views on the Anglish/New English project, and there exist many possible interpretations between them, depending on a writer's personal view.

Below are some of the more commonly asked questions regarding the Anglish/New English project, but they are by no means exhaustive. Hopefully, the answers are informative enough to be useful, but short enough to be easily read.

What is the purpose of the Anglish/New English project?Edit

The purpose of the Anglish/New English project differs from person to person, but mostly it is to explore and experiment with the English language (Anglo-Norman Conventional Written English - Ancwe). This exploration is motivated for some by aesthetics, for others by cultural needs, and yet for others it is purely an interesting diversion or pastime. Language plays a big role in our lives, so to be able to play with that language, and shape it to our own needs or wants is very important. For this reason, writing or communicating in true English is a positive end in itself, in as much as it provides another outlet for this need.

But there is also the further idea that Anglish/New English is a recognition and a celebration of the English part of modern Latinized Common English (Anglo-Norman Conventional Written English - Ancwe). For though it has borrowed thousands and thousands of words throughout its life, there still exists an English core to Common English (Ancwe), the most important everyday words which no sentence or utterance could manage without. By stripping away the layers of borrowed words, Anglish/New English allows us to better appreciate that core and the role it plays in our language.

How do you know which words are English and which are borrowed?Edit

The best way to find out where a word comes from is to look it up in a dictionary. Most decent desktop dictionaries will include short etymologies for many of their entries, which give a little information of where the word came from, and how it was used or written in the past. Some online dictionaries have this information as well, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com and Wiktionary. There are also dictionaries dedicated to word etymologies, which are a goldmine for information about English words. The Online Etymology Dictionary is perhaps the best available online.

But these will only tell you from where and when a word arrived in Common English (Ancwe), but not whether it should be considered 'borrowed'. Some immensely old and very basic words, such as 'cup' and 'mill', are actually borrowed from Latin, yet nobody would say these words are not English. Conversely, words like 'thaumaturgy' and 'intelligentsia' are obviously not of English origin, and have been borrowed relatively recently.

Where to draw the line between English and 'borrowed' is yet another area of personal choice, and there are many views on this among Anglish/New English proponents. A very broad rule says that anything borrowed from French, Latin and Greek in the last eight hundred years should be considered borrowed. A more discerning view would say that any word which was brought into English to fill a genuine need or gap in vocabulary should be kept, but those words borrowed to "adorn" or "enrich" the language but in reality push out existing words, should be weeded.

Are there really that many borrowed words in Common English?Edit

Yes. Common English (Anglo-Norman Conventional Written English - Ancwe) is renowned for having borrowed so many words from different languages over the last thousand years. The core of Common English is Germanic, but only about 25% of the words in Common English today derive from such a source, and that includes those of Norse, Dutch, German and others, as well as English. That may sound like a lot, one in every four words, but not so much when you consider that Latin and French each account for 29% of the Common English vocabulary. Greek gives another 6% of words, with the last 10% being from other languages, derived from personal names, or simply unknown.

However, as mentioned earlier, the core of the Common English language still mostly consists of English words, which makes an undertaking like Anglish/New-English possible.

When a word is removed from Common English (Ancwe), where do replacement words come from?Edit

There are many sources for words to replace those which have been removed from Common English (Anglo-Norman Conventional Written English - Ancwe). Sometimes, a word which is removed will have a commonly-known English synonym already present. Words like 'quotidian' and 'illegal' can easily be switched for 'everyday' and 'unlawful' without losing meaning or intelligibility. When there isn't a readily available English word to be used, a new word must be found or made. Some old or obscure words can be brought back to life and reused; new words can be calqued from Ancwe English morphemes using the old word's pattern; other times entirely new words, "neologisms," can be put together from existing words and affixes. None of these methods is right or wrong, but each has its place in creating a wide and varied lexicon for Anglish/New English, and each is used according to the context and particular needs of a word.

Where did the name Anglish come from?Edit

It seems to have come from some articles published in 1966 in the British satirical magazine Punch. Writer Paul Jennings included some examples of the 'Anglish language'.

Is Anglish a new idea?Edit

Definitely not. Modern ideas about New-English started around the mid-1800s with William Barnes, the Dorset dialect poet. He reasoned that if English words were closer to everyday speech, then the language as a whole would be easier to understand for the average speaker of Common English. He published a book along these lines, and gave some suggestions for new words which could be used to replace some of the more difficult borrowed words.

But even before Barnes, there were a number of people who pursued a similar idea. Possibly the earliest of all was Orm, a monk from Lincolnshire, who wrote a collection of homilies around 1180. He explicitly tried to write only using language that would be understood by a normal English congregation of his time. His work is mostly in English, with very few Latin- and French-derived words. His book could be considered the first example of 'Anglish', although that might be pushing it a little!

I'm interested. Where do I go from here?Edit

The best thing is to read what the Anglish Moot is about, and then take a look at some of the information and resources the Moot already has. If you want to contribute, create a user account, and get writing!

How come this article isn't written in Anglish/New English?Edit

Not all pages at the Anglish Moot are written in New-English. Sometimes, particularly when discussing the Anglish project itself, it's perfectly acceptable to write in Common English/Ancwe. The idea is that articles are either about the Anglish project or in New-English, but they don't have to be both.

This article, though, assumes the reader has little or no knowledge of New English, and so writing it in New English would be rather self-defeating.

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