Society for Pure English, Tract 03 (1920) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 25 pages of information about Society for Pure English, Tract 03 (1920).
have recently been noted.  As this is more than a mere change in orthography, being in fact a part of the process of de-assimilation, members of our Society would do well to avoid the use of the archaic forms in all words which have become thoroughly English, and which are used without thought of their etymology.  The matter is not so simple with regard to words of Latin or Greek derivation which are only understood by most people through their etymology; and for these it may be well to keep their etymologically transparent spelling, as aetiology, [oe]strus, &c.  Whether learned words of this kind, and classical names such as Caesar, AEschylus, &c., should be spelt with vowels ligatured or divided (Caesar, Aeschylus), is a point about which present usage varies; and that usage does not always represent the taste of the writers who employ it.  Mr. Horace Hart, in his Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford, ruled that the combinations ae and oe should each be printed as two letters in Latin and Greek words and in English words of classical derivation, but this last injunction is plainly deduced from the practice of editors of Latin texts, and is an arbitrary rule in the interest of uniformity:  it has the sanction and influence of the Clarendon Press, but is not universally accepted.  Thus Dr. Henry Bradley writes, ’This question does not seem to me to be settled by the mere fact that all recent classical editors reject the ligatures, just as most of them reject other aids to pronunciation which the ancients had not, such as j, v, for consonantal i, u.  Many printers have conformed the spelling of English words in this respect to the practice of editors of Latin texts.  I confess my own preference is for adhering to the English tradition of the ligature, not only in English words, but even in Latin or Greek names quoted in an English context.  If we write ae, oe in Philae, Adelphoe, we need the diaeresis in Aglae, Pholoe, and a name like Aeaea looks very funny in an English context.  The editors of Latin texts are perfectly right in discarding the ligatures; but so they are also in writing Iuuenalis; Latin is one thing and English is another.’

[Footnote 1:  Shakespeare would have assisted the Hyena in her attempt to naturalize herself in England: 

‘I will laugh like a Hyen, and that when thou art inclined to sleep.’ A.Y.L., IV. i. 156. [ED.]]

IV. Dying Words.

Our language is always suffering another kind of impoverishment which is somewhat mysterious in its causes and perhaps impossible to prevent.  This is the kind of blight which attacks many of our most ancient, beautiful, and expressive words, rendering them first of all unsuitable for colloquial use, though they may be still used in prose.  Next they are driven out of the prose vocabulary into that of poetry, and at last removed

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