I love the web comic xkcd, as it is so much more than a comic with layers of commentary and critique – some so grokkingly subtle. Yesterday’s xkcd was a delightful, gentle play on words – Winter:
Today, the Economist has an article on English Purism: What might have been, which is channeling a more explanatory side of xkcd’s word play. The Economist is delightful in their own way:
“Any language in contact with other languages borrows words. And English has always been, of course, a master borrower. A west Germanic language brought over with the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, it first took a lot of Norse from invading Vikings, then even more French from the Norman conquerors of 1066. When the English later themselves became conquerors, they promiscuously took on words from languages all around the world. And as science and medicine advanced, English writers took to coining words from Greek and Latin roots.
Barnes, who wrote poems in his Dorset dialect, didn’t like this. He thought the English showed no self-respect when they reached to classical languages to make learned words. He deplored the loss of old Anglo-Saxon words like inwit, earthtillage and bodeword, replaced by conscience, agriculture and commandment. And where terms had to be coined for new things, Barnes wanted them to be created from Anglo-Saxon roots: he recommended sun-print as a calque for the Greek-derived photograph (“light-writing”).”
I love spacelight for the sun, inwit for conscience, little flappers for birds, whale-road for the sea, and sun-print for photograph.
Although, what should we call a digital still photograph? Sun-pixels?