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Inkhorn Controversy. Inkhorn Controversy. An inkhorn term is a term borrowed from a foreign source into English that is considered pretentious or unnecessary; they may also be created from existing word roots Named for the ink wells used by writers that were made of horns

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inkhorn controversy1
Inkhorn Controversy
  • An inkhorn term is a term borrowed from a foreign source into English that is considered pretentious or unnecessary; they may also be created from existing word roots
  • Named for the ink wells used by writers that were made of horns
  • In 16th century Latinate borrowings were causing controversy
inkhorn controversy2
Inkhorn Controversy
  • Controversy was extent to which such borrowings were permissible
  • controversy was debate about ways and means by which functional elaboration of the vernacular could be achieved
  • Elizabethans were beginning to take greater pride in their mother tongue as an important expression of national identity
inkhorn controversy3
Inkhorn Controversy
  • Writers and poets no longer agreed with earlier conception of vernacular as an inadequate linguistic medium
  • Writers wanted to equate English with classical literary languages
  • Thus they borrowed from Latin, French and Italian classics
  • Sometimes the result was indecipherable
inkhorn controversy4
Inkhorn Controversy

“To the armypotentPrynce and valyentlorde Thomas Duke of Northfolke. AndreweBoorde of physycke doctor: dothe surrender humylecommendacyon with immortal thankes…The whiche did know, not only your complexcion and infyrmite, but also... the imbecyllyte and strength of your body, with other qualytesexpedyent & necessary to be knowen: but brefely to conclude, [for] your recuperating or recoueryng your health. . . . I was convocated to be in the presence of his majesty.”

A. Boorde’sDyetary (1542-7)

inkhorn controversy5
Inkhorn Controversy
  • “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.”

Sir John Cheke (1514-1557)

inkhorn controversy6
Inkhorn Controversy
  • Inkhorn terms came into being because writers were experimenting with the language, importing and inventing terms to meet their needs, especially because of need for terms to describe new technologies
  • Some terms were unsuccessful but many others gained a permanent place and are still in use
some failed inkhorn terms
Some Failed Inkhorn Terms
  • anacephalize: to recapitulate
  • adnichilate: reduce to nothing, annihilate
  • eximious: excellent, distinguished, eminent.
  • exolete: disused, obsolete; effete, insipid; faded
  • fatigate: to fatigue
  • illecebrous: alluring, enticing, attractive.
  • ingent: immense, very great.
  • obtestate: to bear witness, call upon as witness