TEXTS FROM THE INKHORN DEBATE, c. 1560-1640
A TABLE ALPHABETICAL (1604)
A Table Alphabeticall, conteyning and teaching the true writing, and vnderstanding of hard vsuall English wordes, borrowed from the Hebrew, Greeke, Latine, or French. &c.
Svch as by their place and calling, (but especially Preachers) as haue occasion to speak publiquely before the ignorant people, are to bee admonished, that they neuer affect any strange ynckhorne termes, but labour to speake so as is commonly receiued, and so as the most ignorant may well vnderstand them: neyther seeking to be ouer fine or curious, nor yet liuing ouer carelesse, vsing their speech, as most men doe, & ordering their wits, as the fewest haue done. Some men seek so far for outlandish English, that they forget altogether their mothers language, so that if some of their mothers were aliue, they were not able to tell, or vnderstand what they say, and yet these fine English Clearks, will say they speak in their mother tongue; but one might well charge them, for counterfeyting the Kings English.
Also, some far iournied gentlemen, at their returne home, like as they loue to go in forraine apparrell, so they will pouder their talke with ouer-sea language. He that commeth lately out of France, will talk French English, and neuer blush at the matter. Another chops in with English Italianated, and applyeth the Italian phrase to our English speaking, the which is, as if an Orator, that professeth to vtter his minde in plaine Latine, would needs speake Poetrie, & far fetched colours of strange antiquitie. Doth any wise man think, that wit resteth in strange words, or els standeth it not in wholsome matter, and apt declaring of a mans mind? Do we not speak, because we would haue other to vnderstand vs? or is not the tongue giuen for this end, that one might know what another meaneth? Therefore, either wee must make a difference of English, & say, some is learned English, & other some is rude English, or the one is Court talke, the other is Country-speech, or els we must of necessitie banish all affected Rhetorique, and vse altogether one manner of language.
Those therefore that will auoyde this follie, and acquaint themselues with the plainest & best kind of speech, must seeke from time to time such words as are commonlie receiued, and such as properly may expresse in plaine manner, the whole conceit of their mind. And looke what words wee best vnderstand, and know what they meane, the same should soonest be spoken, and first applied, to the vttrance of our purpose. Therfore for this end, foure things would chiefly be obserued in the choise of wordes. First, that such words as wee vse, should be proper vnto the tongue wherein we speake. Againe, that they be plaine for all men to perceiue. Thirdly, that they be apt and meete, most properly to set out the matter. Fourthlie, that words translated, from one signification to another, (called of the Grecians Tropes, ) be vsed to beautifie the sentence, as precious stones are set in a ring, to commend the gold.
THE ARTE OF RHETORIQUE (1560)
Among all other lessons this should first be learned, that wee neuer affect any straunge ynkehorne termes, but to speake as is commonly receiued: neither seeking to be ouer fine, nor yet liuing ouer-carelesse vsing our speeche as most men doe, and ordering our wittes as the fewest haue done. Some seeke so far for outlandish English, that they forget altogether their mothers language. And I dare sweare this, if some of their mothers were aliue, thei were not able to tell what they say: and yet these fine English clerkes will say, they speake in their mother tongue, if a man should charge them for counterfeiting the Kings English. Some farre iourneyed gentlem[e]n at their returne home, like as they loue to goe in forraine apparell, so thei wil pouder their talke with ouersea language. He that commeth lately out of Fraunce, will talke French English and neuer blush at the matter. An other chops in with English Italienated, and applieth the Italian phrase to our English speaking, the which is, as if an Oratour that professeth to vtter his mind in plaine Latine, would needes speake Poetrie, and farre fetched colours of straunge antiquitie. The Lawyer will store his stomacke with the prating of Pedlers. The Auditor in making his accompt and reckening, cometh in with sise sould, and cater denere, for vi.s. iiii.d. The fine courtier wil talke nothing but Chaucer. The misticall wiseman and Poeticall Clerkes, will speake nothing but quaint Prouerbes, and blinde Allegories, delighting much in their owne darkenesse, especially, when none can tell what they doe say. The vnlearned or foolish phantasticall, that smelles but of learning (such fellowes as haue seen learned men in their daies) wil so Latin their tongues, that the simple can not but wonder at their talke, and thinke surely they speake by some reuelation. I know them that thinke Rhetorique to stande wholie vpon darke wordes, and hee that can catche an ynke horne terme by the taile, him they coumpt to be a fine Englisheman, and a good Rhetorician. And the rather to set out this foly, I will adde such a letter as William Sommer himsefe, could not make a better for that purpose. Some will thinke and sweare it too, that there was neuer any such thing written: well, I will not force any man to beleeue it, but I will say thus much, and abide by it too, the like haue been made heretofore, and praised aboue the Moone.
A letter deuised by a Lincolneshire man, for a voyde benefice, to a gentleman that then waited vpon the Lorde Chauncellour, for the time being.
Pondering, expending, and reuoluting with my selfe, your ingent affabilitie, and ingenious capacity for mundaine affaires: I cannot but celebrate, & extol your magnifical dexteritie aboue all other. For how could you haue adepted An ynkehorne terme. such illustrate prerogatiue, and dominicall superioritie, if the fecunditie of your ingenie had not been so fertile and wonderfull pregnant. Now therefore being accersited to such splendente renoume, and dignitie spendidious: I doubt not but you will adiuuate such poore adnichilate orphanes, as whilome ware condisciples with you, and of antique familiaritie in Lincolneshire. Among whom I being a Scholasticall panion, obestate your sublimitie, to extoll mine infirmitie. There is a Sacerdotall dignitie in my natiue Countrey contiguate to me, where I now contemplate: which your worshipfull benignitie could sone impetrate for mee, if it would like you to extend your sedules, and collaude me in them to the right honourable lord Chaunceller, or rather Archgrammacion of Englande. You know my literature, you knowe the pastorall promotion, I obtestate your clemencie, to inuigilate thus much for me, according to my confidence, and as you knowe my condigne merites for such a compendious liuing. But now I relinquish to fatigate your intelligence, with any more friuolous verbositie, and therfore he that rules the climates, be euermore your beautreur, your fortresse, and your bulwarke. Amen.
What wise man reading this Letter, will not take him for a very Caulf that made it in good earnest, and thought by his inke pot termes to get a good Parsonage. Doeth wit rest in straunge wordes, or els standeth it in wholsome matter, and apt declaring of a mans minde? Doe wee not speake because we would haue other to vnderstande vs, or is not the tongue giuen for this ende, that one might know what an other meaneth? And what vnlearned man can tel, what half this letter signifieth?
SIR JOHN CHEKE
I am of this opinion that our own tung should be written cleane and pure, unmixt and unmangeled with borowing of other tunges; wherein if we take not heed by tiim, ever borowing and never paying, she shall be fain to keep her house as bankrupt. For then doth our tung naturallie and praisablie utter her meaning when she boroweth no counterfeitness of other tunges to attire herself withall, but useth plainlie her own, with such shift as nature, craft, experiens and following of other excellent [writers] doth lead her unto... This I say not for reproof of you. . . but for miin own defense, who might be counted overstraight [too strictly] a deemer of things [prescriptive], if I gave not thys accoumpt to you, my freend and wiis, of mi marring this your handiwork.
ACCEPTED "INKHORN" TERMS
ability atmosphere acme agile autograph anonymous apropriate chaos catastropheautograph climax criterion capsule crisis democracy dedicate dogma encyclopediadignity emphasis ostracize education enthusiasm phenomena exist epitome thermometer extinguish pathetic tonic hereditary scheme harass system maturity skeleton meditate tactics penetrate reciprocal scientific strenuous ...
REJECTED "INKHORN" TERMS
adminiculation - `aid'
adnichilate - 'annihilate'
anacephalize - to recapitulate
cohibit - `to restrain' (cf. inhibit)
deruncinate - `to weed' (cf. eradicate)
exolete: disused, obsolete; effete, insipid; faded
expede - `to accomplish' (cf. impede)
demit - `to send away' (cf. submit)
exsiccate - `to dry' (cf. dehydrate)
eximious - `excellent'
fatigate: to fatigue
illecebrous - `delicate', `alluring'
ingent - immense, very great.
obtestate - to bear witness, call upon as witness
suppeditate - `to supply', `furnish'
temulent - `drunk' (cf. intoxicated)
unpossible - 'impossible'