Author Topic: A Loan-free version of the English Language  (Read 14785 times)

Offline freknu

  • Forum Regulars
  • Serious Linguist
  • *
  • Posts: 396
  • Country: fi
    • Ostrobothnian (Norse)
Re: A Loan-free version of the English Language
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2014, 07:00:46 AM »
No one is harbouring any animosity, we are simply pointing out obvious facts.

Not to mention that many of these words are either already perfectly normal English, or awkward and clumsy derivations. If a prescribed change is required, then the best changes are those that are unnoticeable.

So this really ends up falling short of anything useful.

Offline Corybobory

  • Global Moderator
  • Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 138
  • Country: gb
    • English
    • Coryographies: Handmade Creations by Cory
Re: A Loan-free version of the English Language
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2014, 07:13:25 AM »
It's a solution to a made-up problem I'm afraid (which doesn't actually solve anything).
BA Linguistics, MSt Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology, current PhD student (Archaeology, 1st year)

My handmade book jewellery:

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2073
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: A Loan-free version of the English Language
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2014, 12:05:42 PM »
---There's no animosity towards anyone---
Well, I meant it sincerely. If you hate the French, it makes sense to get rid of the borrowings-- perhaps some people still have a grudge about the outcome of that war/invasion 1000 years later. Obviously, rid the language of the evil words! And for that matter, let's eat Freedom Fries. You see, people actually do that.

If you don't have some external problem with the fact that French influenced English, then why eliminate the words? Seriously, I don't get it. Is this about "purity"? In which case it would be perhaps even more silly because languages always change and Old English was just as changed (from Proto-Germanic or Proto-Indo-European or whatever else) as Modern English is today. Nothing is "original". The only serious application can be preserving information about earlier stages of English, which is great, but there's no room for fiction or new coinings in that-- those belong in fictional writing, which is fine in itself, as I said. It's even interesting.

Where is the need to ignore the fact that by simplifying word particles, we simply arrive to a better interpretational understanding of the word meaning:
foretell >> fore/tell - predict ??
book/ly - literary
ever/lasting - infinite (among hundreds of other examples)
That's not an argument. That's an option.
That is useful from a learning perspective. But it's also somewhat boring. A lot of people like the different nuances associated with words in English. "bookly" just doesn't give the sense that "literary" does, especially when "book" and "literature" are NOT the same meaning. You'll always be losing something when you do that.
Secondly, please consider that we memorize most frequent forms anyway, so "literary" or "bookly", whichever, we'll memorize it after we use it a few times. So it won't matter if it's guessable or not.

- it is also a way to discover old terms that have regretfully fallen out of use or have failed to evolve into their modern English form (in the case of obsolete Old English words) and to examine to what extent the amount of inkwell terms have been replaced by inkhorn counterparts
Is it regrettable that the Greek empire fell (or that the Norman French invaded England)? That's old history. Why are lost words regrettable?
Why is having more words considered a good thing? When words aren't used any more it's because they're not needed. We wouldn't one day just stop saying "hand" because it was "regrettably lost"-- we'll keep saying it, unless it becomes obsolete (=effectively useless), perhaps by having a direct competitor (a loan?) or because people no longer have hands in several million years. Either way, it's not regrettable.

Change happens (or more cleverly "shift happens", pun intended).

and to plan on bringing back and to reintroduce many of these words in different contexts*
Again, why? There are probably some garments worn centuries ago that aren't worn any more. And likewise certain ship designs (like big ones with sails) that aren't used any more. Should these be brought back? Language really is part of culture and a kind of technology-- words change over time.
* without denying the fact that many greco-latinisms tend to provide a certain flexibility and malleability rendering them more suitable to technical, scientific contexts etc. than their loan free English counterparts
Exactly. Having borrowed words isn't bad! It's just different.

One could also plan on writing the same book for any other language, even-though English given its sizable amount of loan terms is a specifically interesting case-study.
I certainly agree with you that English is the obvious choice because of the broad effect. There are some other languages in somewhat similar situations such as Swahili with Arabic loans, although I don't know of any case anywhere with more than 50% of the words borrowed. The only obvious cases would be creoles but that's a special case.

So along with freknu and Cory, believe me that I don't mean anything negative against you. I just don't get it. Why this rather than infinitely many other things? For example, I don't understand why it wouldn't be equally interesting to consider the all-borrowings version of English I mentioned above. If it's "why not?", then indeed, why not?
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline swills

  • Jr. Linguist
  • **
  • Posts: 9
Re: A Loan-free version of the English Language
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2014, 02:11:22 AM »
Further up, I refered to an "inkhorn term".

Well if you've never heard of an inkhorn term before,

nearly every other word in this extract is an inkhorn term:

5. If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, is there one thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream -- as gentle as any sucking dove. A virile new Britain cannot continue indefinitely to be traduced in the eyes or rather ears, of the world by the effete languors of Langham Place, brazenly masquerading as "standard English." When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o'clock, better far and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma'amish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens!

Offline IronMike

  • Jr. Linguist
  • **
  • Posts: 11
  • Country: kg
  • The mouth of a contented man is filled with beer.
    • English
    • Iron Mike's Marathon Swims
Re: A Loan-free version of the English Language
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2014, 09:50:37 AM »
I know I'm late to the party, and might have missed if someone already brought it up, but West Saxon (or any other "Old" English) wasn't free from borrowings or foreign words, either.  1066 wasn't the start of the Norman language invasion by any stretch.

Offline zaba

  • Serious Linguist
  • ****
  • Posts: 272
Re: A Loan-free version of the English Language
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2014, 11:45:21 PM »
The thing is, efforts to artificially shape how language evolves don't usually work. Language is organic and "bottom-up". You can talk about this effort all you like, but it will remain a gimmick (like replacing "french fries" with "freedom fries" and other similar absurd ideas), for better or worse.

Offline JuanPablo84

  • New Linguist
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: A Loan-free version of the English Language
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2015, 12:16:20 PM »
Agriculture – earthtilth
Butcher – fleshmonger
Chapel – bedehouse
Debate – wordwrestle
Epilepsy – fallsickness
Frivolity – lightmoodness
Genuflection – kneebowing
Human race – earthkin
Indigenous – inlandish
Jaundice – yellowaddle
Lethally – deathbearly
Market – chapstow
Nautical – shiply
Obstinacy – onewillness
Pedestrian – footly
Quality – suchness
Refuge – frithstowe
Satisfactory – enoughsome
Treasury – goldhoardhouse
Unreliable – untruefast
Verbose – wordful

Replacing loan-words in English would mean replacing nearly 80% of its vocabulary... It would cease to be English as we know it. Sure it is an interesting exercise that I also enjoy doing, but it would totally alter the rhythm and intonation of Modern English, its core identity. Can we be sure the end result would be better? Or nearer to Old English?
By the way your list of Ersatz terms has a couple of very early loans from Latin:
Fleshmonger: /-monger/ comes from Latin mango (dealer, trader, merchant) and is a common Germanic borrowing.
Chapstow:  /chap-/ has the same root as cheap, and both come from Old English noun ceap, an early borrowing from Latin caupo (small time tradesman). This same Latin word is the origin of German Kaufen (to buy).
And what would you do with the hundreds of English loan-translations? The form is English but the meaning is also foreign.