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).

’Je blame cette noblesse pretendue qui nous a fait exclure de notre langue un grand nombre d’expressions energiques.  Les Grecs, les Latins qui ne connoissoient gueres cette fausse delicatesse, disoient en leur langue ce qu’ils vouloient, et comme ils le vouloient.  Pour nous, a force de rafiner, nous avons appauvri la notre, & n’ayant souvent qu’un terme propre a rendre une idee, nous aimons mieux affoiblir l’idee que de ne pas employer un terme noble.[3] Quelle perte pour ceux d’entre nos Ecrivains qui ont l’imagination forte, que celle de tant de mots que nous revoyons avec plaisir dans Amyot & dans Montagne.  Ils ont commence par etre rejettes du beau style, parce qu’ils avoient passe dans le peuple; & ensuite rebutes par le peuple meme, qui a la longue est toujours le singe des Grands, ils sont devenus tout-a-fait inusites.’... [ED.]

[Footnote 3:  Noble. Genteel would not be a fair translation, but it gives the meaning.  Littre quotes:  ’Il ne nommera pas le boulanger de Cresus, le palefrenier de Cyrus, le chaudronnier Macistos; il dit grand panetier, ecuyer, armurier, avertissant en note que cela est plus noble.’]

* * * * *


The method by which this Society proposes to work is to collect expert opinion on matters wherein our present use is indeterminate or unsatisfactory, and thus to arrive at a general understanding and consensus of opinion which might be relied on to influence practice.

This method implies the active co-operation of the members of the Society, who, it is presumed, are all interested in our aims; and the purpose of our secretary’s paper (printed above) is to suggest topics on which members might usefully contribute facts and opinions.

The committee, who have added a few notes to the paper, offer some remarks on the topics suggested.

1.  Whether it is advisable to Anglicize the spelling of certain French words, like timbre, in order to promote their assimilation.  A paper dealing with this question, giving as full a list as possible of the words that are at present in a precarious condition, and proposing in each case the curative spelling, is invited; and any single practical contribution to the subject will be welcome.

2.  A full list of foreign nouns that are uncertain of their Englished plurals is required.  The unreadiness to come to a decided opinion in doubtful cases is due to the absence of any overruling principle; and the lack of a general principle is due to ignorance of all the particulars which it would affect.  Inconsistent practice is no doubt in many cases established irrevocably, and yet if all the words about which there is at present any uncomfortable feeling were collected and exhibited, it would then probably appear that the majority of instances indicated a general rule of propriety and convenience, and this would immediately decide all doubtful cases, and these, when once recognized and established in educated practice, would win over many other words that are refractory in the absence of rule.  What exceptions remained would be tabulated as definitely recognized exceptions.

Project Gutenberg
Society for Pure English, Tract 03 (1920) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook