At last, the solution to all the wearisome arguments over “good” and “bad” English! The Original English Movement is here to rescue us:

For decades descriptive linguists and professional prescriptivists—technical writers, editors, and English teachers—have been at war. As most linguists know all too well, the prescriptivists say that descriptivism is at best a weak philosophy of usage, and at worst an invitation to grammatical chaos. However, too many prescriptivists maintain what is, to descriptivists, an illogical position: language should not change—or at least not until all the opponents of a particular change are long dead.
All that is about to end!

Never again must we argue about whether singular they is an aberration or a useful and much-needed dialectal “innovation”, legitimized by a centuries-long history.
Never again will we discuss the logic of the prohibition against splitting infinitives, asking whether “to go boldly” sounds stupid, or whether traditions in translating Biblical Greek and Latin should have any sway over modern usage.
Never again need we fear to ask who the bell tolls for, or for whom the bell tolls, or where prepositions really belong, or whether the case system of English is dead yet.
The Original English Movement seeks to resolve this conflict and end this struggle by fully embracing the notion that English should not change—not now, not in the future, not even in the past.
Our goal is to bring forth a new body, The Academy of The English Language, whose function is to preside over the correctness of the English Language in the Americas and the British Commonwealth. And by speaking of the English Language, we mean the real, Original English Language—that used by the Anglo-Saxons a thousand years ago to tell the story of Beowulf.

You can send financial support to their World Headquarters and Main Mead Hall (“For reasons of orthographic purity, we prefer to accept donations in Icelandic krona”); I trust all upholders of True English will join this brave cause, and I expect William Safire’s next column to be in Anglo-Saxon. (Link via wood s lot.)
To help you get started, here’s a list of computer terms in Old English.


  1. If it weren’t for the spelling (and a whiff of peevishness…), I’d think des might have had a hand in writing that.

  2. You must be sleep-deprived, PF (no bisquit, obviously!): there would’ve been “Engleeshes” [not only but]”Silly Engleeshes”, patent pending.

  3. Hwaet?

  4. Þæt.

  5. I don’t know whether to be amused or afraid.

  6. Me þinceð þæt þis göd ymbeþanc beþ.

  7. Presumably this (scroll down to the bottom of the page) will be the theme song of the cause?

  8. I love the anthem,
    I wonder how old it is.
    I seem to remember it from my late 1960’s university days.
    – quaint how “ab-DO-men” gets its old-fashioned pronuciation, with the stress on “do”.

  9. Yep, I just checked.
    “Woad Ode” was in the Adelaide Uni Song Book of 1966.

  10. This is a very silly proposal, such as which I would by no means make, and in no way resembling my very sensible suggestion that all Germanic languages should preferably be written using a common orthography based on proto-Germanic for convenience of intercommunication.

  11. One note: I am a technical writer and (erstwhile) editor, and I am not a prescriptivist. None of my colleagues are, either. Granted, there are a number of “prescriptions” for technical writing, but those serve other functions than grammar. Tech writing should be relatively “voiceless” (large technical documents and libraries are often written by teams), it should clear and unambiguous, and it should present as few problems for translators as possible. Those concerns tend to make technical writing rather artificial, but they have bugger-all to do with latinate Victoriana.
    I could go for Anglo-Saxon as a technical language. In fact, I suspect that a language with strongly marked cases would clear up a lot of the ambiguity about agency that still crops up in technical documents, even with the relentless use of active and imperative verbs.

  12. I’d like to take a compromise position and suggest that Icelandic be the new English (and world language), since it is already fully developed and even calls Istanbul by the Old Norse name (Mikligarthur= “big city”). It’s close enough to Anglo-Saxon for me, even though as a Scandinavian language it fronts the dental occlusives or some shit like that.
    This supercedes my earlier endorsement of Finnish as the international language. (Finnish is equally difficult for everyone, and the Finns are quite nice — and the least likely people in the world to dominate the conversation with a lot of useless blather.)

  13. Here’s a site listing Icelandicized international placenemes based on translating the native meaning, if any, into Icelandic. This was an XIX-c nationalist project, or maybe joke. Some real names are included.
    a href=””>Icelandicized Names
    So you see, we wouldn’t have to start from scratch like with A-S.

  14. scarabaeus stercus says

    Perfect English????? To stay put, one perfect version [mine of course]is totally unrealistic: for example when every thing is the same like genetic spuds. One day, yer will wake deaf and mute. All wine and liquor to have the same alcholic taste? PEW. The delight of variations makes life interesting. Why not ask for the same accent, all mimic, perfect spelling[whose] same tone.
    Good and bad is mostly subjective [of course i’m perfect???] is to give jobs to those that are bestilled in concrete.
    Good is only for the party receiving the communicating and completely comprehends.
    Bad is for those that say “wot ye say ”

  15. Paul coop says

    I have a fellow telling me that english had no “J’s” until 350 years ago,ie the original King James Bible,,Would like info on this,,Thank you;;;Paul

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