Saturday, 10 July 2010

William Barnes online (depending where you are)

Onwith from the posts yesterday and backalong - as I guess William Barnes might like me to write (see Ansible ... and Anglish), I've just been reading his An Outline of English Speech-craft (CK Paul, 1878).

Barnes - writer, vicar, schoolmaster, philologist and poet - was interested in dialect and archaic English, and went further in postulating his own: an English purged of words with Latin and Greek roots. There is a modern book on this angle of his work that isn't difficult to find: The Rebirth of England and English: the Vision of William Barnes (Andrew Phillips, Anglo-Saxon Books, 1996, ISBN 1898281173). However, the originals - the 1878 Speech-craft and the 1880 An Outline of Rede-Craft, Logic: With English Wording - are worth reading. In his introduction to Speech-craft (he calls it a "fore-say") he explains:
This little book was not written to win prize or praise; but it is put forth as one small trial, weak though it may be, towards the upholding of our own strong old Anglo- Saxon speech, and the ready teaching of it to purely English minds by their own tongue.
The whole excercise will strike most readers as eccentric, and his attempts to discuss grammar without using Latin/Greek terminology are highly laboured. For example: vowels are "free-breathings", consonants "breath-pennings"; nouns are "thing-names", adjectives, words of "suchness", comparatives and superlatives "pitches of suchness", and so on. But his coinages are for the most part charming. For example:
amphibious - twy-breath'd
botany - wortlore
chemistry - matter-lore
circumference - rim-reach
pleurisy - side-addle
forceps - tonglings, nipperlings
fossil - a forestoning
laxative (adj.) - loosensome
machine - ginny or jinny (from an old English word)
meteor - welkin-fire
parody - a song-mocking
sophistry - rede-guile
He also advocates the restoration of English words that were driven out by Norman influence, such as "housebreach" for burglary, "forburning" for arson, and "swanling" for cygnet. Further coinages can be found in his Rede-craft, though, like grammatical terms, the terms of logic become deadly laboured without recourse to Latin and Greek: a dilemma, for example, is a "two-horned rede-ship".

You'll * possibly find the An Outline of English speech-craft here and An Outline of Rede-craft here.

A large number of books by Barnes are findable without restriction at Google Books (see this search ) and the Internet Archive (search creator:"Barnes, William, 1801-1886"). He was remarkably prolific, and wide-ranging in topic; his output includes poetry, dialect poetry, study of dialect, Anglo-Saxon, English philology, the ancient Britons, grammar, history, thoughts on capital and labour, art and aesthetics, mathematics teaching, and geometry. Disappointingly, his exercise in what looks like dialect porn under the banner of Art 1, The Song of Solomon in the Dorset Dialect, from the Authorised Eng. version (1859 - only 250 copies printed for H. H. Prince Louis-Lucien Bonaparte) isn't online.

* Explanation: I say "possibly" because this highlights one of the many quirks of Google Books; if you're in the UK or anywhere else outside the USA, you'll just see snippet view, as Google Books offers wider access of its scanned texts to US users. Outside the USA, you only get full access to pre-1865 texts. To the best of my knowledge this isn't a copyright issue - an 1878 book is long out of copyright - but one of Google policy.

A highly useful tip - as explained at - is to slip under the radar by going through a US proxy server such as Proxify, and in fact a great deal of the Victoriana mentioned at JSBlog was found that way.

I've been cautious about recommending this option previously, because it feels kind of clandestine; but as far as I can tell, there's nothing stopping anyone outside the USA from reading and downloading Google Books files if they can obtain access by this route. The front matter of the PDFs says nothing about geographical access restrictions, just this:
Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.
We also ask that you:

  • Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.
  • Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google’s system: If you are conducting research on machine translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.
  • Maintain attribution The Google “watermark” you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it.
  • Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can’t offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book’s appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.
Reading between the lines, it looks as if the limitation on access is there purely as an impediment to wholesale commercial use outside the USA of material where Google has invested in scanning and storage. Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land is among a number of users who've asked Google for clarification - here - on the policy, and he quotes this response:
We have gotten this question in the past. The front matter of our PDF books is not a EULA [end user license agreement]. We make some requests, but we are not trying to legally bind users to those requests. We’ve spent (and will continue to spend) a lot of time and money on Book Search, and we hope users will respect that effort and not use these files in ways that make it harder for us to justify that expense (for example, by setting up the ACME Public Domain PDF Download service that charges users a buck a book and includes malware in the download). Rather than using the front matter to convey legal restrictions, we are attempting to use it to convey what we hope to be the proper netiquette for the use of these files.
That's clear enough for me. Downloading Google's out-of-copyright scans for reading, private study and non-commercial commentary looks well within those bounds.

- Ray

1. Addendum. I misjudged: see the following post about Louis-Lucien Bonaparte. Here's a sampler; the text is available in its entirety in the compilation edition Song of Solomon, in twenty-four English dialects.

I The zong o' zongs, that is Solomon's.
2 Let en kiss me wi' the kisses ov his mouth: vor your love is better than wine.
3 Vor the smell o' your sweet-smellèn scents, shed scent is your neäme, an' therevore the maїdens do love you.
4 O draw me on wi' thee, we'll run: the king brought me into his cheämmer: in you we'll be blissom an' glad, we'll meäke mwore o' your love than o' wine, the true-heartèd shall love you.
5 I be zwa'thy, Jerusalem maїdens, but comely, as the black tents of Kedar, as Solomon's hangèns.


  1. "botany - wortlore"

    Why is "wort" so associated with plants? What does it mean?

    I have two nice flowering perennials with "wort" endings (spiderwort and lungwort aka pulmonaria) and there are, of course, many more.

  2. OED:
    1. A plant, herb, or vegetable, used for food or medicine; often = pot-herb. Not in ordinary use after the middle of the 17th cent. and now arch. As a second element, however, retained in various plant-names, as colewort, liverwort."

    "OE. wyrt root, plant = OS. wurt, OHG. (MHG. and G.) wurz, ON. (Icel., Norw., Sw., Da.) urt, Goth. waurts; the stem is related to those of ON" ... cognate with root / radix.

  3. I was struck by wortlore also. How strange. I like the "lore" appendage. (I first misrede it as "wartlore"). Maybe the discussion after that was Googlelore.

    P.S. I also like liverwort (or hepatica).

  4. I also like liverwort (or hepatica)

    There are quite a lot of visceral worts: liverwort, kidneywort, spleenwort, lungwort, bladderwort, heartwort ...