A nicer ƿay of ƿriting Engliſh
As i’ve detailed on my about page, i have a number of typing quirks when writing English — but there are a number of other changes that i think would look better, but could perhaps harm intelligibility or make me look completely insufferable. This page is for me to explore those possibilities without feeling the need to spread them elsewhere.
I have been quite resistant to adding diæreses to words of Germanic origin — normally i spell it being instead of beïng, for instance — and to adding ligatures to words where there is no contemporary precedent — such as equals instead of æquals — but i have decided to abandon those prætenses here and use them whenever possible! In addition, a more oblique archaïcism that i approve of is spelling the root-final -c as -ck, as in musick, æsthetick, and — if one is so inclined — magick.
Then there is the matter of the long s (ſ), a now-obſolete typographickal variant which i think looks rather fetching. It is uſed at the ſtart and in the middle of words, except under the following circumſtances:
- Before or after the letter f, so ſatisfaction, not ſatiſfaction, and
- After another ſ, so aſsiſtance, not aſſiſtance.
But there are more obſolete glyphs which i think could be quite uſeful! Þorn (Þþ) and eð (Ðð) now ſurvive only in Icelandick and Færoeſe, representing þe two th-ſounds. Uſually þ ſtands for þe “weak” th, like in thought and æther, and ð for þe “ſtrong” th in this and whither, but i perſonally find uſing eð at the beginning of a word to be quite ungainly — and þe Icelanders agree.
Ƿynn (Ƿƿ) replaces þe compound letter w; hƿile ƿe’re at it, ƿe might as ƿell flip wh back over to hƿ, making it truër to its original pronunciation.
Finally, ȝoȝ (Ȝȝ) can replace þe digraph gh.
But ƿe need not ſtop at merely making orþographickal alterations. Þe archaïck (but ſtill recogniſable) pronoun þou ƿas uſeful for diſtinguiſhing betƿeen þe ſingular and plural yous, and from þere it’s eaſy to bring back þe accuſative ye.
Oh — hƿile ƿe’re at it, let’s get rid of gendered pronouns, þe peſky baſtards. By analogy ƿið þou and you, þe logical ſet to uſe is þat coined by Chriſtine M. Elverſon in 1975, of þe ſingular þey ƿið þe þorn chopped off: ey, em, and eir.
And þe once-productive perfective ſuffix -(e)n, hƿich ſhoƿs up in ƿords like trodden, aƿoken, ſlain, and ſo on, can alſo be brouȝt back, in þe final ſtage of þe neƿly-changen tongue.
A ſample of þis reformen Engliſh, taken from Charles Dickens’ A Chriſtmas Carol:
Marley ƿas dead: to begin ƿið. Þere is no doubt hƿatever about þat. Þe regiſter of eir burial ƿas ſignen by þe clergyman, þe clerk, þe undertaker, and þe chief mourner. Scrooge ſigned it: and Scrooge’s name ƿas good upon ’Change, for anyþing ey choſe to put eir hand to. Old Marley ƿas as dead as a door-nail.
Mind! I don’t mean to ſay þat i knoƿ, of mine oƿn knoƿledge, hƿat þere is particularly dead about a door-nail. I miȝt have been inclinen, myſelf, to regard a coffin-nail as þe deadeſt piece of ironmongery in þe trade. But þe ƿiſdom of our anceſtors is in þe ſimile; and mine unhalloƿn hands ſhall not diſturb it, or þe Country’s done for. Þou ƿilt þerefore permit me to repeat, emphatickally, þat Marley ƿas as dead as a door-nail.
Scrooge kneƿ ey ƿas dead? Of courſe ey did. Hoƿ could it be oðerƿiſe? Scrooge and ey ƿere partners for i don’t knoƿ hoƿ many years. Scrooge ƿas eir ſole executor, eir ſole adminiſtrator, eir ſole aſsign, eir ſole reſiduary legatee, eir ſole friend and ſole mourner. And even Scrooge ƿas not so dreadfully cut up by þe ſad event, but þat ey ƿas an excellent man of buſineſs on þe very day of þe funeral, and ſolemniſed it ƿið an undoubten bargain.
“Þere are many þings from hƿich i miȝt have derived good, by hƿich i have not profited, i dare ſay," returned þe nepheƿ: "Chriſtmas among þe reſt. But i am ſure i have alƿays þouȝt of Chriſtmas time, hƿen it has come round — apart from þe veneration due to its ſacred name and origin, if anyþing belonging to it can be apart from þat — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleaſant time: þe only time i knoƿ of, in þe long calendar of þe year, hƿen men and ƿomen ſeem by one conſent to open þeir ſhut-up hearts freely, and to þink of people beloƿ þem as if þey really ƿere felloƿ-paſsengers to þe grave, and not anoðer race of creatures bound on oðer journeys. And þerefore, uncle, þouȝ it has never put a ſcrap of gold or ſilver in my pocket, i believe þat it has done me good, and ƿill do me good; and i ſay, God bleſs it!”