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Inscape & Outlandishness

Thursday, February 24, 1994

"Some of the small word-endings end themselves with a dead breath-penning...[These] seem to betoken, mostly, an ending or shortening or lessening, in time or shape...of their body-words...Flap, flip, a quick flying; heap, hop, hip, small highenings or humps; pop out, to poke out quickly; clap the hands, to close them quickly; stub, a small stump; wallop, to wallow or well (roll) lightly...We may think that we have two very fine words in envelope and develop, whereas they seem to be nothing better than the Teutonic inwallop and unwallop...."

"-er (an ending). It means outeked in size or time:--Chatter, to chat much; clamber, to climb much; wander, to wind about."

"-sh (an ending). It means quickness and smartness; as, clang, clash; crack, crash; fly, flash; go, gush; hack, hash."

"-m, -om, -um. Words so ended meant mostly the outcome of the time- word, and were at first thing-names...Blow, bloom; go (with quick stirrings), game; glow, gleam, gloom; grow, groom; hollow, helm; harry, harm; sew, seam; stiff, stem; stray, stream; tang, ting (reach on), time, timber ( a very ontanging stick)...."

Who is this madman? you ask. And what is this stuff? William Barnes's An Outline of English Speech-Craft (1878), his grammar for the common folk, written "towards the upholding of our own strong old Anglo-Saxon speech, and the ready teaching of it to purely English minds by their own tongue." And English, he upheld, should be of good English roots, without outlandish borrowings. "So the forlessening names, leveret for a hareling, and cygnet for a swanling, are unwontsome, as being words of another speech." What the sturdy Saxon peasantry made of his grammar is a riddle.

Barnes was a Dorset dialact poet (there is an account in Kilvert's Diary of a meeting with the old fellow, got up as Merlin, "half hermit, half enchanter," as Kilvert said) and self-taught philologist. (It was in the air. The great Joseph Wright, author of the English Dialect Dictionary and Tolkien's teacher, was a Yorkshire mill child. He taught himself to read at fifteen, taught other laborers, and worked his way to Oxford and a full professorship. And if anyone comes across a copy of the EDD, let me know. I desire it with a mad unworldly passion, all six folios of it.) Barnes's passion was the rootedness of English, its power to create ungrafted words, of its own thorny and inalienable stock. A quickset tongue, hedge-English: tough and insular, flowering and thorny. Gerard Manley Hopkins read him with "almost great" admiration ("...he is like an embodiment...or manmuse of the country...."), and composed. "Worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie" is Barnesian. So are "unchilding," "fall-gold," "hornlight," "fire-folk," "fell-frowning," "earl-stars," "rook-racked," "dapple-dawn-drawn," and a hundred other wordings.

Not that Hopkins copied Barnes, I think, but saw a scholar of like mind.

It was in the air. There was "a movement afoot among philologists and poets to effect a renaissance in English diction by anglicizing the language. This movement would lead to the Early English Text Society [to which we owe Gawain and rare Arthurian texts] and the Oxford English Dictionary, would influence Hopkins, Hardy, Yeats, Pound, and many another. It was the feeling, both patriotic and aesthetic...that English can say anything it wants to in a native way without coining from French, Latin, or Greek.

"We ought, for instance, to say foreword rather than preface...We should say sunprint for photograph, inwit for conscience, wordhoard for vocabulary. The most rigorous of the anglicizers was not Hopkins but Charles Montagu Doughty, whose allegiance to pure English in his Travels In Arabia Deserta...and his great unknown epic, The Dawn In Britain, has had a lasting impact on style...for instance, by way of Joyce to Eudora Welty..." (Guy Davenport, The Geography of the Imagination, p. 283)

And not only in the mainstream: there is a Barnesian thread inweaving still, through Morris and Tolkien into fantasy's common tongue. As the Celtic revival and its high deeds gave us geis, so the renaissance of English, that flowering of scholarship and poetry, has meant that we all know of runesmiths and riddlemasters, werelights and wolfsheads, that we've called friends to the farspeaker.

"There's glory for you!" as Humpty-Dumpty, that great philologist, has said. Remember Jabberwocky was first published as a "Stanza of Anglo- Saxon Poetry," with footnotes. Carroll knew his world's absurdities, and Beowulfery was in.

Hey, all of this was new, the stuff of romance, and parents were naming their daughters "Ethel" for the glamour of it.

Racy stuff, this inbred English, and a reaction to the orotund redundancies of high Victorian cant. And part of the greater movement toward the rediscovery of folk song and fairy tale. (Philology and fantasy go hand in hand. Think of Tolkien and the brothers Grimm.) Roots are a splendid thing, whose shadow (I am well aware) is insularity and mutterings of ethnic purity. (A gentle example: "What's that Senegalese/klezmer/Welsh/Chinese/Mongolian bivocal stuff? We came to hear folk music.") Sometimes it's good to hear the single voice, the panpipes or the nose flute or whatever and glory in the inscape of it all, the genius loci. Then after a while, I react, and go off toward the ethno-boogie, which in language is a glorious melange like the patwa of the Hellflower books. Sheer polylingual perversity.

Still, there's a crazy delight in reading Barnes's wordhoard:

abrade, To forfray, forfret.
absorb, Forsoak.
accelerate, To onquicken.
accessary, A bykeeper, deedmate.
adulation, Flaundering, glavering.
adverb, An under-markword.
adversative, Thwartsome.
alienate, To unfrienden.
allegory, A forlikening.
altercation, A brangling.
anodyne, Pain-dunting, pain-dilling.
apodosis, The hank time-taking to a hinge one: -- "If ye ask (hinge), ye shall receive (hank)."
aqueduct, Water lode.
atmosphere, Welkin-air.
bibulous, Soaksome.
botany, Wortlore.
comma, A mark for the offcutting of small shares of a discourse.
deciduous, Fallsome.
depilatory, Hairbane.
desecrate, Unhallow.
dormitory, Sleepstow.
electricity, Amberishness.
foliate, Leafen.
forceps, Tonglings, nipperlings.
fossil, A forstonening.
genitive, The offspring case.
horizon, Sky-sill.
hydrophobia, Water-awe.
inarticulate, Unbreathpenned.
indicative, The surehood mood.
iterative, Going over again and again.
letter, A book-staff.
machine, A jinny.
magnificent, High-deedy.
meteor, Welkin-fire.
panacea, Allheal.
paragraph, An offwriting, a wording-share.
participle, A wordling, a small shapefast word.
perambulator, Push-wainling.
plagiary, A thought-pilferer.
posterity, Afterkin.
solstice, Sunsted.
sophist, Wordwise.
sophistry, Rede-cunning.
spell, A bewording.



( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 13th, 2005 12:47 am (UTC)
Good to have you back.
Apr. 13th, 2005 02:26 am (UTC)
(I think "forlikening" is my favorite.)
Apr. 13th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC)
"Amberishness" isn't bad either.

Apr. 13th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC)
And "forstonening."
Apr. 13th, 2005 01:01 am (UTC)
Relative to English Dialect Dictionary , it is available for some regrettable sum of money at http://www.alibris.com/search/search.cfm?qwork=2059640&wtit=english%20dialect%20dictionary&ptit=English%20Dialect%20Dictionary%206%20Vols&pauth=Wright%2C%20John%20%28Editor%29&pisbn=&pqty=2&pqtynew=0&pbest=165%2E37&matches=2&qsort=r&cm_re=works*listing*title for around $166 USD.

Given that my current employment hangs by the thinnest of threads and that I today visited my eye doctor, I cannot just up and buy the thing and send it to you. My apologies.
Apr. 13th, 2005 01:22 am (UTC)
Rats. If it were $165.37 for the set, I'd snap it up and pinch pennies afterward. But alas, it's volumes 4 and 5 at $165.37 each.

But what a lovely generous impulse of yours.

Apr. 13th, 2005 04:27 am (UTC)
I noticed the verbs with attached prepositions, like "onquicken" and "unfrienden." Would those conjugate in the German style, separating verb and preposition in most sentences? Or keep them together as English does with "understand?"
Apr. 13th, 2005 04:53 am (UTC)
Good question.

I can't find my copy of Barnes, but I would think they'd behave as English verbs and clump. The elder parts of the language are enwrought that way: they bewitch and bewilder.

Apr. 14th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC)
Musing on the difference between "end up" and "up end."

Apr. 13th, 2005 04:55 am (UTC)
Skookum! I have several entries similar to this; one is even titled "Lostpath Wordhoard." However, I have only read about Barnes so it was interesting to taste a morsel of his work. Thank you so.
Apr. 13th, 2005 05:49 am (UTC)
You're very welcome. May I?


Coolness inwith.

Apr. 13th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
Certainly. And once again thank you!
Apr. 13th, 2005 06:42 am (UTC)
Oh my. That's beautiful. It's like discovering new Olde English.

I think "wordhoard" is actually my favorite. It would not be inappropriate to picture me sitting at my desk, perched possessively atop a pile of linguistic treasures, jewelbright gleanings from a lifetime of collection.
Apr. 13th, 2005 09:27 am (UTC)
Roots are a splendid thing, whose shadow (I am well aware) is insularity and mutterings of ethnic purity. [...] Sometimes it's good to hear the single voice, the panpipes or the nose flute or whatever and glory in the inscape of it all, the genius loci.

The funny thing is, the genius loci is usually quite a bit of a mongrel himself. English is a complete ragbag even if we leave out the French/Latinate elements. For instance:


Indo-European philology is haunted by mysteries. Things don't get simpler when you dig deeper. Not at all.
Apr. 16th, 2005 02:02 am (UTC)
Black spirits and white, red spirits and gray;
Mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may.

I love the graftedness of English, even in its rootstock. Imped out.

Apr. 13th, 2005 12:02 pm (UTC)
When I saw you had twelve comments, I had little hope of being the first to mention Poul Anderson's Uncleftish Beholding, an intro to atomic theory written only in words of Germanic origin. When I was checking on it, I found this, which has an excerpt from Uncleftish and some speeches written almost entirely in words of Greek derivation.

Bookfinder has a complete set of Wright for a little under $800 (first volume in library binding), but nothing I'd call actually cheap. I recommend bookfinder--afaik, it has alibris and abebooks as subsets. I have just spent more time than a sensible person might have trying to figure out whether (if I had the spare money), it would be possible to come out ahead by buying a volume 1 in the original binding, then selling the complete set. I believe the answer is maybe. There aren't any volume 1s (first edition, original binding) on the list, but perhaps it would be possible to do something clever by buying several sets and putting the best volumes together. Or I could do something really clever, and get some of the sort of work I actually get paid for done.

My favorite is tonglings, though I also have some fondness for beworded for bespelled. When the spell is lifted, you're unbeworded and have aphasia for a while.
Apr. 16th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC)
Nifty link. Thanks!

Apr. 13th, 2005 02:17 pm (UTC)

And another for tnh , if she doesn't have it already.

I shall look for it in Hay.
Apr. 14th, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC)
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaant! I am half slain with delight.

Somewhere early in the thread, it came to me that I was finally seeing the roots of "Uncleftish Beholdings," a great favorite of mine. After I first read that article, I wandered around in a state of dissatisfaction, thinking there was some obvious person I ought to send it to, only I couldn't think who it was. After a while I realized that the obvious person was me. Of course, that was before I met Jo and Greer.

Unfrienden is a wonderful word. That and onquicken and sky-sill are my favorites, I think. There were some words I liked for their own sake -- bewording, forlikening, rede-cunning, soaksome, water lode, wordwise -- but wouldn't have for use, because they can mean too many other things beyond their assigned translations: I'm wordwise, but I'm not a sophist.

Note for future: we should do more with -fast. It's underused.
Apr. 16th, 2005 02:14 am (UTC)
Note for future: we should do more with -fast. It's underused.

Oh, I do, I do. Steadfastly. It's one of my self-shadowed words, like "wake" or "light" or "still."




Apr. 13th, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, has he got any words for guns? I really need a word in that language for gun that isn't firearm, though firearm is a perfectly legitimate one and I'll use it if I have to.
Apr. 14th, 2005 12:03 am (UTC)
I am unsure if Barnes has any such word, but if he does I suspect it is to be found in his poetry rather than his Speech-Craft Grammar. However, I am quite certain that Hopkins provides no such word.

"Firearm" initially sounds good, but "arm" put to that purpose derives from the Latin arma which etymologically clashes with "fire." I am unsure if etymological harmony matters to you, but if it does that is something to consider. In the English of Barnes and kith "sun" and "fire" seem to be almost interchangeable; however, "fire" is more suggestive of destruction. Additionally, instead of "fire" you may want to consider "far" to denote the range of such a weapon.

As "rifle" and "gun" are both out that leaves us with spear (ME spere), weapon (ME wepen), bow (ME bowe)and arrow (ME arwe). Let's run the letter a bit:


My apologies as that was probably not too helpful; I am sure that Nine will do better -- and if not her you may want to consult Alexander Theroux.
Apr. 14th, 2005 12:37 am (UTC)

But "fell" of course is Old French.


"Shaft" has some nice metaphorical overlay: shafts of light, of lightning.

"Stonebow" is later, but the elements are not.

And bullets could be "starkbolts"? "Bolt" is good Old English for what a catapult hurls; and "stark" is used "of an instrument of torture or punishment: Inflicting severe pain, cruel."

Any help?

Apr. 14th, 2005 07:29 am (UTC)
I like "farshaft" and "starkbolt" -- especially "starkbolt."
Apr. 14th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC)
I love starkbolt.

I think cloudhurler 's "firejinny might work.

Thank you.
Apr. 14th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
You're most welcome.

Apr. 14th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC)
I'd have gone after some variety of "throw." Many weapons have shafts. Guns are projectile weapons.
Apr. 16th, 2005 04:22 am (UTC)
I am a day late to this thread, but my first thought on seeing the "firearm" question was "leadspear". I think people could as easily have caught on the projectiles, back at naming-time, as the fiery part.

And my favorite word from the original list is "wortlore". Wortlore!
Apr. 16th, 2005 02:23 am (UTC)
"Jinny" is lovely, but too late for your purpose: either an aphetic form of the Old French engin, or a variant of Janet, like a spinning-jenny.


Apr. 15th, 2005 02:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, bliss!

And the other joyfull thing is that it works both ways round: it's good to be offered sunprint, and it's good to be prodded into remembering that photography is writing with light.

And it only sounds crazily exotic because English in fact goes the eclectic route; German routinely does create new words out of German roots (my favourite is probably the "dust-sucker" or vacuum cleaner!).
Apr. 16th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
Babelfish just translated "belletristischen" as "barking trichloroethylene tables."

Gotta love it.

Apr. 16th, 2005 09:29 am (UTC)
Oh, yes!

Babelfish exists to reassure linguists / translators that whatever they hear about computer translation, they are not yet dispensable.
Apr. 22nd, 2005 11:13 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, is that where Stephen Dedalus gets his 'agenbite of inwit'? I've never forgotten that phrase.

Apr. 30th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC)
Re: ReJoyce
This got buried. Sorry.

Joyce got that from a 14th century book written by a Kentish monk, Ayenbite of Inwyt, or, the remorse of conscience.

Apr. 30th, 2005 11:35 pm (UTC)
ah never mind then
...and i felt so terribly clever there for a moment.

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )