|Eng||This article is intentionally written in English. Please do not translate it into Anglish.|
The aim of Anglish is: English with many fewer words borrowed from other tongues. Because of the fundamental changes to our language, to say that English people today speak Modern English is like saying that the French speak Latin. The fact is that we now speak an international language. The Anglish project is intended as a means of recovering the Englishness of English and of restoring ownership of the language to the English people.
Robert of Gloucester, speaking in part of earlier centuries, in the mid to late thirteenth century said:
...the Norman could not speak anything then except their own speech, and they spoke French as they had done at home, and had their children taught it, too, so that important men in this country who come from their stock all keep to that same speech that they derived from them; because, unless a man knows French, he is thought little of. But humble men keep to English and their own speech still. I reckon there are no countries in the whole world that do not keep to their own speech, except England only. (Little has changed.)
King Edward I, when issuing writs for summoning Parliament in 1295, claimed that the King of France planned to invade England and extinguish the English language, "a truly detestable plan which may God avert".
In the Cursor Mundi, an anonymous religious poem in northern Middle English dating from approximately 1300, appears the words: "Of Ingland the nacion". The Prologue starts:
"Efter haly kyrces state, þis ilke bok it es translate, Into Inglis tong to rede, For þe love of Inglis lede, Inglis lede of Ingeland, For þe commun at understand. Frankis rimes here I redd Comunlik in ilk a sted; Mast es it wroght for Frankis man — Quat is for him na Frankis can? Of Ingeland þe nacioun, Es Inglis man þar in commun. Þe speche þat man with mast may spede, Mast þarwith to speke war nede. Selden was for ani chance Praised Inglis tong in France; Give we ilk an þar langage, Me think we do þam non outrage. To lauid Inglis man I spell..."
(Key: "Þ","þ" ("thorn") = "Th", "th"; "lede" = "people"; "mast" = "most"; "quat" = "what"; "lauid" = "lewd", "lay[men]" )
This can be translated into modern English as:
"This same book is translated, in accordance with the dignity of Holy Church, into the English tongue to be read, for love of the English people, the English people of England, for the common people to understand. I have normally read French verses everywhere here; it is mostly done for the Frenchman — what is there for him who knows no French? As for the nation of England, it is an Englishman who is usually there. It ought to be necessary to speak mostly the speech that one can best get on with. Seldom has the English tongue by any chance been praised in France; if we give everyone their own language, it seems to me we are doing them no injury. I am speaking to the English layman..."
In 1323 Henry Lambard, a cleric, was brought before a court and asked how he wished to clear himself of charges of theft. Lambard said in English that he was a cleric and was then asked if he knew Latin or French. He replied that he was English, and English-born, and that to speak in his mother tongue was proper. He refused to speak any other language except English. Refusing to give any other answer to the court, he was committed to another court to suffer Peine forte et dure.
Opinions regarding Anglish
Paul Jennings, who first coined the term 'Anglish' in the British satirical magazine Punch, admitted that it was intended as a joke; his three articles in Punch, entitled '1066 and All Saxon', published on the 15th, 22nd, and 29th of June 1966, were written for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Yet, leaving that to one side, George Orwell argued that there are good reasons for removing non-English words from the language to create a "New-English" and employing as many words as possible of Germanic origin.
About differing opinions on how "English" the vocabulary of Anglish should be
Beyond the ambition of creating a predominantly English vocabulary, cleansed of unnecessary foreign, mostly Latin and Greek words, there is a wide range of personal interpretations of what constitutes Anglish. 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 needed. Others may wish to take out all those borrowed words, and where there is no existing alternative true English word, to invent a wholly new word to go in its stead. These are perhaps the two most widely differing views on the Anglish project, and there exist many possible interpretations between them, hanging on a writer's personal view.
Below are some of the more commonly asked questions regarding the Anglish project, but they are by no means exhaustive. Hopefully, the answers are informative enough to be useful, but short enough to be easily read.
The goal of the Anglish project differs from person to person, but mostly it is to explore and experiment with the English language. This exploration is driven for some by aesthetics, for the ethnic English 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 talking in true English is a positive end in itself, in as much as it provides an other outlet for this need.
But there is also the further idea that Anglish is a recognition and a celebration of the English part of modern English. For, although it has borrowed thousands and thousands of words throughout its life, there still exists a true English core to English, the most important everyday words which no sentence or uttering could manage without. By stripping away the layers of borrowings, Anglish lets us better appreciate that core and the role it plays in our language.
How does one know which words are English and which are borrowed?
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 knowledge of where the word arose from, and how it was used or written in the past. Some online dictionaries have this knowledge 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 knowledge about English words. The Online Etymology Dictionary is perhaps the best available online.
But these will only tell from where and when a word came into English, but not whether it should be thought 'borrowed'. Some immensely old and very basic words, such as 'cup' and 'mill', are indeed borrowed from Latin, yet nobody would say these words are not English. Conversely, words like 'thaumaturgy' and 'intelligentsia' are clearly not of English origin, and have been borrowed relatively lately.
Where to draw the line between English and 'borrowed' is yet an other area of personal choosing, and there are many views on this among Anglish proponents. A very broad rule says that anything borrowed from French, Latin and Greek in the last eight hundred years should be thought 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 truly that many borrowed words in English?
Yes. English is renowned for having borrowed so many words from different languages over the last thousand years. The core of English is Germanic, but only about 25% of the words in English today derive from such a root, and that includes those of Norse, Dutch, German and others, as well as English. That may sound like many, one in every four words, but not so much when one thinks that Latin and French each account for 29% of the English vocabulary. Greek yields an other 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 English language still mostly consists of English words, which makes an undertaking like Anglish possible.
When a word is taken out from English, where do replacement words come from?
There are many roots for words to replace those which have been removed from English. 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 is not 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 English morphemes using the old word's pattern; other times wholly new words, "neologisms," can be put together from existing words and affixes. None of these methods are right or wrong, but each has its stead in making a wide and varied lexicon for Anglish, and each is used according to the context and particular needs of a word.
Where did the name Anglish come from?
It seems to have arisen 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?
Definitely not. Modern ideas about a "new English" started around the mid-1800s with William Barnes, the Dorset dialect poet. He reasoned that if English words were nearer to everyday speech, then the language as a whole would be easier to understand for the average speaker of 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 thought of as the first model of 'Anglish', though that might be pushing it a little!
I'm interested. Where do I go from here?
The best deed is to read what the Anglish Moot is about, and then take a look at some of the information and resources that the Moot already has. If you want to contribute, make a user account, and get writing!
How come this article is not written in Anglish?
Not all pages at the Anglish Moot are written in Anglish. Sometimes, particularly when mooting the Anglish project itself, it's perfectly acceptable to write in everyday English. The idea is that articles are either in everyday English about the Anglish project or in Anglish, but they don't have to be both.
This article, though, assumes the reader has little or no knowledge of Anglish, and so writing it in Anglish would be rather self-defeating.