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What is Anglish?

Anglish is a kind of English which prefers native words over those borrowed from foreign languages. Anglish is linguistic purism applied to English.

English --> Anglish
Ability --> Skill
Native --> Inborn
Brilliant --> Bright
Decide --> Choose
Computer --> Reckoner
Famous --> Nameknown
Dictionary --> Wordbook
Vocabulary --> Wordstock
Ubiquitous --> Everywhere
Fascinating --> Bewitching

Look at more examples and common words here. Or search the full Anglish wordbook for specific Anglish words.

How Anglish Works

Linguistic purism in English is achieved by simply choosing to use native or Anglish words rather than borrowed words. If there is no modern native word for a given concept, Old English or Anglo-Saxon words can be revived and updated to modern spelling and phonology to be used for a modern meaning. While the Anglish language does have mainly Germanic vocabulary, it is not meant to be a pan-germanic language like Folksprak, but rather a tongue where most of its vocabulary is rooted in Old English. It is worth noting that some Anglishers are more strict than others. Some will go so far as to reverse French influence on spelling (known as Anglisc), while others will even teach or write in Anglo-Saxon runes.

Below is the Anglish example that YouTuber Rob Words used. This is the preamble to the US Constitution translated from English to Anglish text.


"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


"We the Folk of the Foroned Riches, to make a more flawless oneship, build rightness, bring frith and stillness to our land, shield one another, uphold the overall welfare, and hold fast the Blessings of Freedom to ourselves and our offspring, do foresay and lay down this lawbook for the foroned riches of Americksland."

History Of Anglish

The term "Anglish" was made up by Paul Jennings in his 1966 Punch Articles. However, the desire to remove foreign influence from the English language is a tradition that goes back all the way to the Norman invasion in 1066. The Normans were a Germanic, Old Norse-speaking tribe that raided and settled a part of France that is now known as Normandy. After a few generations, they adopted the French language before William I took over England. The French-speaking Normans being in positions of power throughout England is what led to the adoption of much of the foreign vocabulary that is in modern English today.

Many English writers throughout history, such as Thomas Wilson or Roger Ascham, have spoken out against the use of "Inkhorn Terms" or the needless borrowing of words from foreign languages as a fashion statement, something that happened often in the 16th and 17th centuries. English scholar, John Cheke wrote, "I am of this opinion that our own tung should be written cleane and pure, unmixt and unmangeled with borowing of other tunges; wherein if we take not heed by tiim, ever borowing and never paying, she shall be fain to keep her house as bankrupt."

William Barnes, a writer and poet from the 19th century, famously called for the removal of Latin, French, and Greek vocabulary from English and promoted Anglo-Saxon substitutes, like wortlore for botany and welkinfire for meteor. More about Barnes was documented by author Andrew Phillips in his book "The Rebirth of England and English."

In the 20th century, William Strunk Jr. wrote in The Elements of Style, "Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready, and able. Anglo-Saxon is a livelier tongue than Latin, so use Anglo-Saxon words". The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, once said, "Broadly speaking, short words are best, and the old words, when short, are best of all." This attitude of keeping speech down to earth is something that shows up in many political speeches in English-speaking countries in an attempt to better connect with the average person. Another 20th-century author, Elias Molee, called for a fully Germanic language for Americans that he called "Amerikan". One of Molee's books was titled "Pure Saxon English". An American science fiction and fantasy author, Poul Anderson, is known for writing Uncleftish Beholding, a short text explaining atomic theory with only Germanic words.

More recently in the 21st century, author David Cowley released his book "How We'd Talk If the English Had Won in 1066", among others, that goes into depth on the vocabulary and sound changes that happened to English as a result of Norman influence. (Though it is worth noting that some linguists disagree and think English still would have borrowed many French words anyway.) Even for authors who are not seeking to purify English, understanding the distinction between Latinate and Anglo-Saxon vocabulary is a tool used by some well-known fiction writers, like Stephen King.

Cowley is not the only one making new writings in and about Anglish, there are many communities, both offline and online, that use an Anglish dictionary to generate new Anglish works on a regular basis. In addition to this Anglish wiki, other online Anglish communities span from retro websites like Neocities and Spacehey to modern social media like YouTube, Reddit, and Discord. Many authors and content creators see this form of constrained writing as inspirational and challenging to their creativity, while others see Anglish as something religious or spiritual , a way to get in touch with their ancestors and go back to their own roots.

See Also