Friday, July 05, 2019

What’s is an inkhorn?

I might be ostentatious, but I'm not an "inkhorn." I prefer plain English. In fact, I'd never heard the word inkhorn used this way.

"Picture an ancient scribe, pen in hand, a small ink bottle made from an animal's horn strapped to his belt, ready to record the great events of history. In 14th-century England, such ink bottles were dubbed (not surprisingly) inkhorns. During the Renaissance, learned writers often borrowed words from Latin and Greek, eschewing vulgar English alternatives. But in the 16th century, some scholars argued for the use of native terms over Latinate forms, and a lively intellectual debate over the merits of each began. Those who favored English branded what they considered ostentatious Latinisms "inkhorn terms" after the bottles carried by scholars, and since then we have used inkhorn as an adjective for Latinate or pretentious language." Merriam Webster Word of the Day.

Anglo-Saxon, the language of the Germanic barbarians who invaded the British Isles, was useful for swearing, cursing, naming common things like animals, counting money and time, but for just about everything else, Latin and French words needed to be imported by the Normans (originally were Vikings) when they invaded Britain in the 11th century (which is also the origin of both my maiden and married names). I also don't do a lot of swearing and cursing. In fact, none.

As of January 1, 2019, there were (estimated) 1,052,010.5 words in the English language. (Global Language Monitor) Shakespeare invented about 1700 words, and the KJV Bible changed the language forever. Today the internet accounts for many changes like OMG and BFF.

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