A constructed language which gets back to English’s roots.
Anglish is an unusual language: it is a constructed language with no native speakers. It is a type of English which excludes almost all words of Latinate origin, Greek origin, or any other origin of word which isn’t from regions which are Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon-Celtic, and even words from those regions if they are from the last 800 years or so. (It keeps words, no matter where they’re from, if they have been borrowed to fit a vital purpose.) This certainly limits its vocabulary, but its enthusiasts have nevertheless created an interesting language. At the time of this article being written the Anglish wiki had 648 articles.
What are its enthusiasts hoping to achieve?
The Anglish wiki site discusses why people might be interested in the language:
“The purpose of the Anglish project differs from person to person, but mostly it is to explore and experiment with the English language. 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.”
But even ignoring that definition, the idea of using Anglo-Saxon-Celtic words in place of Latinate and Greek words (to just name two) already has an important fan: in his essay “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell wrote that writers are sometimes led to believe that Latin and Greek words are better for certain tasks than “Saxon” words.
His argument may seem a little bit odd today as he mentions words such as “virtual”, “basic”, “primary”, “promote”, “exhibit”, “exploit” and “eliminate” as words which are “pretentious”, and the fact is we all use those words today. Orwell advocated stripping back parts of the English language to make it more easily readable, like using secateurs to cut back bits of woody garden growth. Anglish isn’t easier to read than English, but it’s not really concerned with standard English anyway, as it seeks to take English’s Germanic words and use those in building a constructed language.
As stated on Anglish’s wiki, they want to experiment with the English language by making something new with its basic parts. Anglish is not meant to replace English in any way and it’s not a political movement.
How it reads
There is a certain poetic beauty to Anglish. For example, “education” becomes “learningcraft”, and when you think about it, “learning” and “craft” make more sense together than the word “education” does. And while that may seem archaic, we can see a parallel that is familiar to us: for example, the French word “abattoir” replacing a word we already had, the more straightforward “slaughterhouse”. It is an interesting language to read.
Anglish will certainly never replace English but it is not meant to do so. Those who choose to explore it hope that this exploration will lead to a greater understanding of the English language and how to use it.