Purify English / Old English revival

Alxmrphi

Senior Member
UK English
Looking at the arguments on this thread, it occurs to me that I could put up an equally good argument for reverting to the English of pre AD 1945/50. Reading literature from 60 to 100 years ago reveals a much more elegant use of language, often with simpler words, that we use now. Yet many who have been brought up alongside the language of computers, mobile phone texts, hip-hop-speak and sound-bites would protest that there is no need because they have a perfectly good modern language that enables them to communicate. :rolleyes:
The interesting thing about this sort of position is that you can trace ongoing changes that reveal a state of consistent lamentation which goes to show language actually was never elegant in a sense like the way they professed, in any sort of real sense, but completely synthesised and programmed by the culture and experiences of the people of the times. The people 50-100 years ago would have said 50 years earlier was when everyone spoke more correctly and language is 'going to the dogs'. Even before them, these great writers of 150 years ago had nothing but admiration for the language of 200 years ago, and so on and so on. It's really interesting to read written articles in a timeline where people show this ideal and it just completely ridicules the logic of it consequently.

The sort of language we're talking about here, email communication and other types of language will probably seen as a throwback to a better time of more linguistic competence by speakers of English who aren't going to be born for another 30/40 years. It's a natural trend and completely human in nature, but subjective and not inherent to the actual linguistic forms, but geared by a culture of rejecting contemporary change 'of-the-day', because therein lies the nature of change and opinion on linguistic issues, the novelties present in the formation of a speaker's native language rejects novelties and often naturally finds themselves at odds with them because of their unfamiliarity, and tends to follow the ideal that language of their time and before was therefore more majestic, elegant and in all senses of the word, better.

I think it'd be amazing to be able to look at every speaker's parents and get a clip of them speaking, going so far back as they sound Victorian, then like from the Middle Ages, then the early settlers (/invaders), and then you've got no distinction with Dutch/German, completely different languages, Proto-Indo-European and its ancestor that we sadly don't know anything about. It all goes to show that change happens on a generational level and human beings, with our nature like it is, has a constant urge to complain about what's unfamiliar to us and rejecting change. I think writing has a big part to play, holding back change and reinforcing the idea that we have something that should be immutable, which is a wrong assumption to take from its existence.

This is why, in this thread, the change has external factors but it's still something that would have happened in one way or another, so I also sort of reject the idea of an Anglish revolution because we're trying to head backwards to something that has naturally run a course, we need to be looking at the present day and in the future, not reinforcing the idea that we have this leech-like decay sucking all the beauty out of the way we speak, and as a result we have to revert to a 'better time'.
 
  • LoboSolo

    Member
    English - US
    So why do the 900 additional years matter if the 600 years shouldn't matter, especially if you want to reach back 1000 years to Old English? Where do you draw the line and why? When you define Scots as "English which has drifted off" I could equally say English is nothing else but German having drifted off. Of course I am not saying that, but if I entered the same shaky ground you are walking on, I very well could with exactly the arguments you've been bringing forward. And, BTW, Scots has not split of Old English but off Middle English.

    Most authors date the BE/AE split around 1750 though you can find many changes in BE being reflected in AM up to the mid 19th century. This of course apply to standard language and not to dialects. Let's take the most obvious difference: non-rhoticity in BE: In the 18th century, non-rhotic pronunciation is attested in London dialect and as non-standard in BE until the mid 19th century and had therefore never become standard in AE (of course there are non-rhotic dialects in AE but that has nothing to do with the development in BE).[/SIZE]
    I'm beginning to think that either you'v missed wholly missed the point of the thread or are being froward. I find it hard to believe that you can't see the difference.

    So let's step thru this and see where we'v gone astray in our thinking.

    If one wanted to cleanse the tung of Latinates, then one would have to pick the spot in time where the shift happened. That spot is late in 1066 when the Norman-French took over Britain. The whole ettle of Anglish is to take a guess at what English might be like had Harold won instead of William. The next few years were a bloody slaughter of the Saxon athels and thanes. For about 100 years, English, for all practical purposes stopped being a written tung (Kemmer). During this time, not only were many OE words were lost or displaced by French/Latin words but English was shoved down and thought of as the tung of peasants. Anybody who was somebody spoke French and Latin ... and thus the stage was set for even more Latinates. We still tholing that mindset.

    That's why we sometimes go back nearly 1,000 years to find words and meanings ... We go back to the time that we either lost them or began to lose them. (BTW, Iceland has delved back into the history of its tung to put new meanings to old words to brook in them in the modern world ... so it's not without precedence).

    So, from that viewpoint, the Scots, being further away from the center of power of French overlords, were the most likely to keep many of the words and indeed they did. It seems that Scots is closer to the OE roots than English! I said that Scots is an offspring (desendant) or offshoot of OE ... I should have said offspring of OE or offshoot of Early Modern English (The year 1500 [yur 600 years] would be slightly past ME). The fact that it is more of offshoot Early Modern English only strengthens my argument. If you think of Scots as a separate tung (I don't, but "in argumento" let's say it is), then English and Scots are siblings (brother and sister). Whereas German and English are distant cousins.

    So yu want to say that there is no difference between taking an old meaning of a little-used English word that is still being brooked by the sister-tung (and in the English wordbook) and taking the meaning of German cognate from a line that split off 1,500 years ago (yur number) of the many-times-removed cousin tung of well-used English word? Truly, you think that's the same? I ween that it's NOT EVEN CLOSE! And I think yu know that. To follow yur analogy to its end, then we might as well go back to the PIE root and say that all PIE offsprings are in play which means that we can take the meaning of any cognate over the PIE world that we want.

    In the end, the verb "to brook" is being used instead of "to use" on more than one forum. I wasn't the first and I won't be the last. It's spreading. It may be time to take off that obsolete/Scots tag.
     

    LoboSolo

    Member
    English - US
    Why should it matter if you can't write 'v' word finally? Old English didn't have a 'v' at all. If you want to revive OE you need to abolish "v" altogether.
    Can you tell me what you have in mind by OE "
    'ou' for 'u'"? If you are thinking of changes like hus becoming house, this has nothing to do with Anglo-French but reflects a sound change within Old English.
    Why? Just give me one reason.
    <Deleted by moderator: Watch your tone!>

    English needs to undo the "reforms" of the past.

    As for the 'v' ... there should be no final 'e' after hav, giv, liv (the verb), definitiv (Old French definitif, -ive, from Latin definitivus ... no 'e' in the Latin!), or any "-ive", "-ite", or "ine" word where the 'i' is short. This has been a common item on spelling reform lists for over a hundred years.

    I did research "thou" some time ago and found it was initially pronounced as "thu". The change to 'ou' did not reflect a change in pronunciation but rather the pronunciation followed the spelling. For route, I say the 'ou' as the 'ou' in house like 'ow' but many pronounce it as "root" which reflects the French way.

    "Wound" as in an injury was spelled "wund". The 'ou' should be 'u' in yu, yur, yung, asf (again, all on spelling reform lists). Group (from OF groupe) should be grupe more like the German Gruppe.

    Anent the 'b', in the words were "det/te" (from O.Fr. dete, from L. debitum) and "dout" (from Old French doute (noun), douter (verb), from Latin dubitare ... displaced OE tweo), the 'b' was added back in later by Latin loving scribes. It had nothing to do with pronunciation. They also put the 's' in iland on the mistaken thought that it was akin to isle. They need to be undone since the letters weren't there when we took the words in and they aren't pronounced.

    Is that reason enuff for yu?

    These are the eath ones along with dropping the 'a' in words like ready to reddy or redy ... also on the reforms lists. We hav to be able to get the eath ones out of the way before moving on to the harder ones.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I did research "thou" some time ago and found it was initially pronounced as "thu".
    Yep, just like Icelandic has it today.
    The change to 'ou' did not reflect a change in pronunciation but rather the pronunciation followed the spelling. For route, I say the 'ou' as the 'ou' in house like 'ow' but many pronounce it as "root" which reflects the French way.
    Noooooooooo no no, that's not true in this instance.
    The high back vowels became diphthonhgs during the Great Vowel Shift, it didn't apply in Scotland which is why they still say [mu:s] in the [hu:s].
    It wasn't a case of spelling changing any sort of pronunciation. That's quite basic knowledge in the history of English (I don't mean that with any offence or anything like that).
    "Wound" as in an injury was spelled "wund". The 'ou' should be 'u' in yu, yur, yung, asf (again, all on spelling reform lists). Group (from OF groupe) should be grupe more like the German Gruppe.
    Same as above, it was the vowel that changed. I can point you to a lot of literature on the topic if you're interested. There's always Wiki to start off with:

    Middle English [uː] was diphthongised in most environments to [ʊu], and this was followed by [əʊ], and then Modern English [aʊ] (as in mouse) in the eighteenth century. Before labial consonants, this shift did not occur, and [uː] remains as in soup and room (its Middle English spelling was roum).
    About this part:
    Anent the 'b', in the words were "det/te" (from O.Fr. dete, from L. debitum) and "dout" (from Old French doute (noun), douter (verb), from Latin dubitare ... displaced OE tweo), the 'b' was added back in later by Latin loving scribes. It had nothing to do with pronunciation. They also put the 's' in iland on the mistaken thought that it was akin to isle. They need to be undone since the letters weren't there when we took the words in and they aren't pronounced.
    This only happened to Latinate words anyway though, so if they're all going to be gone anyway, then there's no need to worry about this change, right?
    Those people felt that you should be able to see etymology through the words and that they were more reflective of that, but true it was nothing to do with pronunciation.

    About why the GVS happened, there are many different proposals, but not one that I know of that is linked to French. The mainstream view (in my experience) is the one that puts the Black Death at the root of the upheaval of Medieval society and with a third of our population killed, suddenly the lower classes became the middle class and caused a huge shift, which later meant massive movements to London and that there the new developments in some people's speech took hold and became standardised. Other people also attribute it to the Black Death but say it was more that the higher classes didn't want to be classed as the same as the newcomers who had inherited all this wealth and they needed a way to socially diversify themselves and shifted their pronunciation in a sociological way (like what Labov saw on Martha's Vineyard in his famous study about phonological change and social adaptation).
     
    Last edited:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    As for the 'v' ... there should be no final 'e' after hav, giv, liv (the verb), definitiv (Old French definitif, -ive, from Latin definitivus ... no 'e' in the Latin!), or any "-ive", "-ite", or "ine" word where the 'i' is short. This has been a common item on spelling reform lists for over a hundred years.
    I am sorry having to tell you that, but you need to familiarize yourself with the morphological history of English a bit better. The final -e in many English verbs are remnants of conjugational suffixes which which decayed in late Middle English. The infinitive form of have developed as follows: Proto-Germanic hebjanan > Old English hefian (there are alternative forms but this one is the ancestor of the later forms) > Early Middle English haven > Late Middle English have. The decay of the final -e happened very late in Middle English and is hence not reflected in spelling: English spelling by and large corresponds to Late Middle English (~1450) when spelling was standardized (read about "Chancery English" in any textbook). The analogy to French loans (adjective) might have helped preserving the spelling but it reflects Middle English pronunciation and is not an "invention" by reformers.

    In addition, -v in the end of a word was as foreign to Old English as it was to Old French, just the reasons were different: Old French was a language characterized by terminal obstruent devoicing while in Old English, like in other Germanic languages of that era, /v/ did not exist as a phoneme in its own right. It was merely an alternative pronunciation of /f/ used between vowels. It is a reflex of this that we still pronounce and spell wolf with an "f" (< OE wulf) and the plural wolves with a "v" (< OE wulfas).

    I did research "thou" some time ago and found it was initially pronounced as "thu". The change to 'ou' did not reflect a change in pronunciation but rather the pronunciation followed the spelling. For route, I say the 'ou' as the 'ou' in house like 'ow' but many pronounce it as "root" which reflects the French way.

    "Wound" as in an injury was spelled "wund". The 'ou' should be 'u' in yu, yur, yung, asf (again, all on spelling reform lists). Group (from OF groupe) should be grupe more like the German Gruppe.
    Alex explained this already. Just one addition: It is one of the earliest stages of the GVS and is therefore reflected in spelling. E.g. the diphthong in name is not reflected because it happened much, much later and is therefore not reflected in spelling. If it had happened as early as the shift hus(e)>house then you would have a spelling like nayme.
    @Alex: The reason why it is not reflected in Scots is because Scots is derived from Northumbrian which dialect speakers pronounce house [hu:s] to this very day.

    Anent the 'b', in the words were "det/te" (from O.Fr. dete, from L. debitum) and "dout" (from Old French doute (noun), douter (verb), from Latin dubitare ... displaced OE tweo), the 'b' was added back in later by Latin loving scribes. It had nothing to do with pronunciation. They also put the 's' in iland on the mistaken thought that it was akin to isle. They need to be undone since the letters weren't there when we took the words in and they aren't pronounced.
    This happened only to Latinate words you want to get rid of anyway. That's why I am confused why you care.

    Is that reason enuff for yu?
    if you want to revive old forms, you shouldn't transcribe the "gh" in enough as "ff". the digraph "gh" transcribes the Middle English letter "yogh" which had many allophones. In this case its pronunciation was [x], the sound in Scottish loch.

    These are the eath ones along with dropping the 'a' in words like ready to reddy or redy
    In Middle English "ea" transcribed the sound [ɛ:] (the same "e" as in bed but longer. Modern English doesn't have this sound any more), i.e. ready was pronounced [rɛ:di] before the GVS and that's why it is spelled like this.
     
    Last edited:

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    @Alex: The reason why it is not reflected in Scots is because Scots is derived from Northumbrian which dialect speakers pronounce
    No, not Scots.
    Scottish English. Plenty of people who won't have any sort of familiarity with Scots would still pronounce it like that.
    It's just a change that didn't go up that far, maybe for historical reasons, divisions etc, I've got a memory of exactly why in my head from a Dialects course but I can't find any link to it, it was to do with the fronting of [o:] which moved out of the way and didn't bump [u:] up to a diphthong, and is often used as evidence for positing the push-chain hypothesis of GVS, rather than the pull-chain one.
    :D
     
    Last edited:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I'm beginning to think that either you'v missed wholly missed the point of the thread or are being froward. I find it hard to believe that you can't see the difference.

    So let's step thru this and see where we'v gone astray in our thinking.

    If one wanted to cleanse the tung of Latinates, then...
    I think you fail to see that you haven't provides us with a reason why we should "cleanse the tung of Latinates" in the first place. The thread was initially a kind of thought experiment, if this is possible but you actually claim one should really do that. And you should give us a reason why.

    The whole ettle of Anglish is to take a guess at what English might be like had Harold won instead of William. The next few years were a bloody slaughter of the Saxon athels and thanes. For about 100 years, English, for all practical purposes stopped being a written tung (Kemmer). During this time, not only were many OE words were lost or displaced by French/Latin words but English was shoved down and thought of as the tung of peasants. Anybody who was somebody spoke French and Latin ... and thus the stage was set for even more Latinates. We still tholing that mindset.
    Bearing a chauvinistic grudge against what the horrible Normans and French allegedly did 1000 years ago is a pathetic reason. All these words have long become part of the English cultural heritage. "[T]ak[ing] a guess at what English might be like had Harold won instead of William" is indeed an intriguing though experiment. But please leave it at that.


    And, out of curiosity, why do you want to "cleanse" English only of Latinates imported after 1066, why not of Latinates imported during the Old English period, like wine, pear, to spend, and many more? And what do you want to do with other non-Anglo-Saxon loans into Old English, like sky or they?
     
    Last edited:

    terredepomme

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The word dentist entered English only in the mid 18th century.
    ...Yes I never contested that. What I stated was that the French word dentiste existed in French way before that and probably originally had a similar sense to that of the English word tooth-drawer.

    Can you tell me which Greek or Latin loan words this words are supposed to have replaces? I am not aware of any. Most are obviously calques but I am not aware of any loans which had actually entered German before and which they should have replaced. The only one I could think of would be "Import" but "Import" and "Einfuhr" have always co-existed since both were introduced (about 300 years ago).
    Well they are "calques" which means, by definition, they have replaced a certain foreign word. I think there is a misunderstanding here on the "replacement" of foreign words; By replace I do not necessarily mean a foreign word that enters a language, stays around for some time and then get replaced but also those who get replaced from the beginning, as were the case of these words.
    And for the Germanic words among my list that have survived along its Latin equivalents, you have Kontext, Translation, Impression/Expression, Unität, et cetera.

    Why should it? Contrary to German, English had all these words already as loans and didn't have to create calques. German has a significant number of Latin loans (some of them so old, people aren't aware that they are of Latin origin, like e.g.
    ...I don't fully understand, what you mean they "already" had them as loans? They accepted these words at some point during the history, so they could have come up with calques as well instead of phonetically integrating them to English. On the other hand, the Germans could have just done like the English had and import directly Latinate vocabulary as "Konscienz." So it seems to me that it was just a matter of choice.
     
    Last edited:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    By replace I do not necessarily mean a foreign word that enters a language, stays around for some time and then get replaced but also those who get replaced from the beginning, as were the case of these words.
    Then we've talked cross purposes. In the context of this thread we would be talking about replacing loanwords only, wouldn't we?
     

    terredepomme

    Senior Member
    Korean
    In the context of this thread we would be talking about replacing loanwords only, wouldn't we?
    I was just responding to Alxmrphi's claim that
    if you have a whole continent of people communicating in one way via Latin, to standardise and come up with your own official words WITHOUT the support of an Academy that regulated the language, is nigh-on impossible.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The high back vowels became diphthonhgs during the Great Vowel Shift, it didn't apply in Scotland which is why they still say [mu:s] in the [hu:s].
    It wasn't a case of spelling changing any sort of pronunciation.
    ...
    About why the GVS happened, there are many different proposals, but not one that I know of that is linked to French. The mainstream view (in my experience) is the one that puts the Black Death at the root of the upheaval of Medieval society and with a third of our population killed, suddenly the lower classes became the middle class and caused a huge shift, which later meant massive movements to London and that there the new developments in some people's speech took hold and became standardised. Other people also attribute it to the Black Death but say it was more that the higher classes didn't want to be classed as the same as the newcomers who had inherited all this wealth and they needed a way to socially diversify themselves and shifted their pronunciation in a sociological way (like what Labov saw on Martha's Vineyard in his famous study about phonological change and social adaptation).
    That is a very interesting question. What catches the eye is that some vowel shifts happened in a similar fashion in many West Germanic languages/dialects...

    More in a separate thread here.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The interesting thing etc.
    Spot on!

    Suggesting that English should be "purified" is like suggesting the English should "purify" their eating and cut out any foodstuffs that were not around [inert any number you like] centuries ago. Who can imagine the English abandoning potatoes? They would not take to the argument that Henry VIII never saw a potato.
     

    zyandx

    New Member
    english
    To me ,these ideas are wrong.Under a pratical point of view,we are near to what we call "impossibility",suddenly we should come back to 1500 years ago and to speak a completely new language.
    Under a theoretical point of view,these ideas are wrong too.Why "composites" countries like USA or India or South Africa should underline "only" the germanic element?But also in England ,why we should underline "only" the germanic element?
    To purify.To purify means "erase, delete a foreign element".But is it really a foreign element? All know the fable,at some point in the history Angles and Saxons arrived in England,but they were all Angles and Saxons? Not, it is the answer.They were a composition of germanic peoples.
    They were so in large numbers that they erased preexisting element.Not ,it is the answer ,no sources says the germanic area was overpopulated neither archaeological excavations suggests it.The sources and archaeological excavations says that the germanic area was underpopulated.They or something else killed all preexisting element.Not,it is the answer.
    For example ,Ine Of Wessex laws.300 years later the first arrivals,Ine wrote specific laws for the so called "preexisting element", you can verifiy it.As Ine ,other kings, before and after Ine,wrote specific laws for the "preexisting element".These laws ve been variously interpreted.
    It is not important what is the right interpretation , what it is important it is that we have a proof that 300-400 years later there is a so strong presence of this "preexisting element" that you need specific laws for it.What happened it is a fusion with this element ,not a ethnic cleansing.
    This element is partially also a latin element,so what we should purify? and why?
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I've been following this thread passively for some time now. I see the revival issue as more or less "fun" like a poet choosing carefully and making use of the elements of the language he wants to emphasize. This can be pure rhetoric or for some desired artistic effect. I think there's nothing wrong with resurrecting these old words. In the same tone, I could open my own new thread, calling it Norman revival and state my desire to cleanse English of the archaic germanic element.
    In reality I think I'm probably using half germanic half latinate words in this post which is what English has become in the 21st century. I could not imagine getting by without the French-Greco-Latin part of our language. It's an integral part of the make-up of English nowadays. I'd even go so far as to state it's part of the force of English, even a treasure to keep. The best quality of English is it's available to adopt and assimilate thousands of loan words.
    The common English speaker, when he or she reads Anglish, does not identify with it and surely doesn't understand most of it either. It seems foreign. That's why such a purifying movement can never take root.
    Yet I do think the old English revival has merit in itself, is a good exercise and has its role to play.
     
    Last edited:

    Abu Talha

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    I read that in 1966 Paul Jennings wrote a series of articles for Punch in "Anglish". Here is a specimen:
    ... the Clash of Hastings; of how in that mightytussle, which othered our lore for coming hundredyears, indeed for all the following aftertide till Doomsday, the would-be imaginers from France were smitten hip and thigh; and of how not least our tongue remained selfthrough and strong, unbecluttered and unbedizened with outlandish Latin-born words of French offshoot. Our Anglish tongue, grown from many birth-ages of yeomen, working in field or threshing-floor, ringing-loft or shearing house, mead and thicket and ditch, under the thousand hues and scudding clouds of our ever-othering weather, has been emulched over the hundredyears with many sayings born from everyday life.
    Source: http://thisamericanstrife.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/no-more-norman-conquest/
    Does anyone know if these articles are available today?
     

    Destruida

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    A good word for "to endure, suffer, tolerate" is thole. To thole the winter's steely dribble. --Burns.

    I have no idea if the Star Trek writers knew of the word thole and when they created the "Tholian Web".

    Another is dree. To dree one's weird is to "endure one's fate".
    Those are words I've heard used quite frequently.
     
    Last edited:

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I think to purify English would be totally utopian, and I don't see a reason why one would want to do it, however, I have been wondering if there are any fringe newspapers or journals printed in Old English, or fora, perhaps. That might be interesting. I like Old English myself.
     

    terredepomme

    Senior Member
    Korean
    ... the Clash of Hastings; of how in that mightytussle, which othered our lore for coming hundredyears, indeed for all the following aftertide till Doomsday, the would-be imaginers from France were smitten hip and thigh; and of how not least our tongue remained selfthrough and strong, unbecluttered and unbedizened with outlandish Latin-born words of French offshoot. Our Anglish tongue, grown from many birth-ages of yeomen, working in field or threshing-floor, ringing-loft or shearing house, mead and thicket and ditch, under the thousand hues and scudding clouds of our ever-othering weather, has been emulched over the hundredyears with many sayings born from everyday life. Source: http://thisamericanstrife.wordpress....rman-conquest/
    Wouldn't be more like: France -> Frankland, Imaginers -> Inbuilders(?), remained -> overlived?
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    And for the Germanic words among my list that have survived along its Latin equivalents, you have Kontext, Translation, Impression/Expression, Unität, et cetera.
    Don't know where you got your list, but from the words mentioned in this very short list only Kontext does sound as German to me... Eindruck/Ausdruck (but: Expressivität and ausdrucksvoll/expressiv), Einheit (and, by the way, et cetera.../usw.).

    ...I don't fully understand, what you mean they "already" had them as loans? They accepted these words at some point during the history, so they could have come up with calques as well instead of phonetically integrating them to English. On the other hand, the Germans could have just done like the English had and import directly Latinate vocabulary as "Konscienz." So it seems to me that it was just a matter of choice.
    They did, but at some point there was a purifying tendency... some Latinisms and Gallicisms were replaced, some not, in some cases both the foreign word and its German calque survived.
    Submiss/unterthänig... well, Schiller would have used submiss... an average contemporary German wouldn't even understand what "submiss" means.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    This is what makes English such a magnificent medium for poetry - we will concede to the Italians, Germans and Russians their supremacy in music, and to the Dutch, Renaissance Italian artists and some others, theirs in the related fields.

    But precisely because of its long and richly mixed history, we can concede to none in poetry - including that of the Authorised Version of the Bible, whose anniversary we contemplate and celebrate this year.
    You'll probably have to concede to the Chinese... let's say, Tang poetry. Or to some other Asian nation (I think of the Indian subcontinent - there surely is something which I don't know of), whose poetic tradition is yet some hundreds (or thousands) years older.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    How true. The poetry of the most widely acclaimed poets in English History, Chaucer and Shakespeare, is characterized drawing on all the facets of the this wealth of words in the English language of their respective times.

    On the other hand, neither French, nor Italian, nor German poetry have to submit to English poetry either (I don't now enough about Russian to judge). The great poets of these languages have found their own ways so created magnificent poetry. Watching Shakespeare plays in translation is almost invariably a disappointment (especially in German, not only because even Schlegel's magnificent translation can't match the original but even more so because German stage acting and directing tradition cannot capture the subtle comedy you find even in Shakespeare's darkest dramas). But the great performances of Goethe in German or Molière in French do not have to hide behind Shakespeare in any way.

    Concerning the the poetic text of the Bible (all in the OT), I appreciate the forceful language of the KJV (as well as Luther's, btw); but it does't stand the comparison with the Hebrew original. Poetry is always at its best when enjoyed in its native environment.
    The history of Russian poetry isn't nearly as long as that of English, French, or Italian (which, I think, is the oldest of them all: Dante's sonnets were written long before Shakespeare's), but Pushkin isn't in any way inferior to Shakespeare, and is, alas, the classical example of an untranslatable poet.
    As for Chaucer... sorry, but I don't really think he is really enjoyable for a modern English reader without lots of linguistic comments, whereas Dante (e. g. in his sonnets) is yet (but I'm not sure if this state of things will hold on for long) enjoyable for a modern Italian reader without lots of linguistic comments (but his Divine Comedy isn't really comprehensible without knowing much of the cultural, i. e. historical, philosophical, political, theological context of that time).
     

    terredepomme

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I for one oppose this "word bag" view of languages, where a language is basically considered as a lexical bag that simply hoards different words, and the more words it possesses, the better or "richer" it is. A language is not a simply a total sum of words and the number of vocabulary(which can hardly be measured anyway) does not necessarily determine the "richness" of a language. Nor does having diverse etymological origines tell much about the width of the lexical pool.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    As I've said, except for those that are directly related to Chinese and Indian societies and cultures. These all designate animal species, products, customs, or natural phenomenons originating from India or China. Just because they can be sometimes used analogically does not mean that they have gone through enough abstraction process to be a word detached from its specific designation of a Chinese or Indian importation. Then practically anything would be able to be considered as loanwords: Spaghetti and samurai would be Italian and Japanese loanwords. You can pronounce all the names of Chinese teas in English and say that they are English words just because you pronounced or spelled them in English. Also, most of these words can equally be found in Korean, Japanese, and French by the way.

    The only words that meet my criteria would be
    Three Indian words and one Chinese word. The influx of Indian loanwords is not surprising due to its colonial contact with India that lasted for centuries. It is worthwhile to mention that Korean and Japanese have many Indic words as well although they had only distant contacts with india, and in their case, the Indic words are mostly not related to anything specific from India, but rather totally abstract concepts: baka(stupid) in Japanese(from san. moka), geondalbae(gangster) in Korean(from san. gandharba).
    Sorry to contradict you, but...
    cheetah, ketchup, bandana, bangle, bungalow, typhoon, kowtow, pyjamas, jodhpur, cot, dinghy, pundit
    declining them as not having entered the English vocabulary is ridiculous. On this basis, we'd have to deny Spanish the "citizenship" of a lot of arabisms like atarazana (dockyard), zanahoria (carrot), alcalde (mayor), ataúd (coffin, alongside Latinate - and more rarely used - féretro), alfombra (carpet), alcatifa (some kind of carpet, besides other meanings), algazara (clamour), algarabía (uproar) etc...
    I won't speak for all, but I'd think that, alongside the perception of a word as related to some specific culture (spaghetti = Italian) or opposing abstract & concrete, the perception of a word as foreign or genuine and its phonetic "naturalization" is of utter importance.
    E. g. pyjamas, typhoon, bungalow, bandana, pyjamas, ketchup, are also found in Russian. Pyjama isn't perceived as a foreign word, but rather as a specific item of clothing, not (!) related with India. Bungalow: has an exotic flair in Russian (isn't declinable, like a lot of recent neuter gender loanwords), but in the English language I don't think this word is exclusively related to a specifically Indian type of building. Typhoon: specific scientific (meteorologic) vocabulary, geographically limitated, but then... should we deny hurricane - Hurricane - huracán - uragano its citizenship (origin: Taíno language) because it is a natural phenomenon? In German, I'd say yes (because of its distinctly foreign English-American flair in spelling and pronunciation), for the other languages I'd say no (Bellini's "I puritani": a hurricane - uragano - in Scotland? yet it is so). Bandana: in Russian, somewhat exotic (a recent loanword - I think, via English), but not specifically related to India. Ketchup: doesn't have nothing exotic about its phonetics or morphology neither in English nor in Russian and is so common nowadays that most natives wouldn't think of it as a foreign word (a different case is German, where its spelling hasn't been adapted).
    Going on with words not present in Russian: kowtow (existing as a verb!) isn't related specifically to Chinese.
    Silk is definitely naturalized, because it's presence is so old and because silk is now quite common in European (culturally) countries. Tea:also naturalized (which isn't true for a lot of specific sorts of tea). Chai (in German: a specific sort of mildly spiced tea, usually prepared with milk) definitely not. When I first heard that word used in German I thought: since when do Germans use the Russian variant of this loanword instead of their own "Tee"?
     

    terredepomme

    Senior Member
    Korean
    My point was that most of those words have arrived alongside with the specific objects or phenomenons they designate. And such importation of vocabulary is of course present in all languages, not just English, as you have pointed out.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    Hi, Angelo. I agree with you that those particular words may come from Hindi or other languages of India, but don't forget that English is an Indo-Eurpean language so many stems can be the same as in languages that come from Sanskrit. Not every word in English that is similar to a word in Hindi, for example, has to be a loan.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    I don't forget anything in this case, but the words in this list don't seem to be Indo-European cognates, unlike "огонь", "ignis" & "Agni", "domus" & "дом". They entered English (and other European languages) quite recently.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top