Are there resources to help me keep away from latinate when I write? Preferably, they would let me trade latinate words for older, better words.
A thesaurus might help (or better, a good dictionary with information on etymology, combined with a thesaurus—which is the combination I used to find that “keep away” could replace “avoid”), but there are problems with the dictionary+thesaurus approach. The dictionary will give me the origin of a word, but no non-Latinate alternatives, while a thesaurus will give me many alternatives, but won’t give the etymological information I need to tell whether a word is latinate or not. A writer like me who seeks to occasionally (but quickly) replace Latinate words with non-Latinate words is then forced into an iterative search that can be time-consuming.
But what makes me think that writers should replace Latinate with "older, better words," and what makes them better, asks a user. The idea that avoiding Latinate can improve writing is fairly widespread, and I offer three sources to support this claim. More sources can easily be found. The first source is, of course, Ernest Hemingway. Note his (partial) avoidance of Latinate in the following quote:
Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?
He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right.
But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the
ones I use.
But I suspect that the user finds Hemingway distasteful, which is fair enough. As an alternative then, take the minor classic Economical Writing by Deirdre (formerly Donald) McCloskey. McCloskey advises against the use of "five-dollar words to support a pose of The Scientist or The Scholar." She explains,
"Anglo-Saxon words […] have often acquired a homely concreteness
through long use that more recent and more scholarly coinages from
Latin or Greek have not […].
But then, McCloskey is an economist, and the user most assuredly will not take advice on usage from economists (not with a B.A. in English and 20 years of book-tending under her belt). Perhaps a passage from a higher authority and with more historical flair will bring the said user around. The passage comes from Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams. Deep breath, I quote at length (the final paragraph delivers the punch):
After the Norman Conquest, those responsible for institutional,
scholarly, and religious affairs wrote in Latin and later Norman
French. In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries,
increasing numbers of writers began using English again for matters of
state, commercial, and social life. But since the native vocabulary
for these matters had long since disappeared (or had never come into
being), English writers were able to write about them in the only
vocabulary available, in words borrowed from Latin, but particularly
from French. […]
Conspiring with that influence on our vocabulary was a second one,
the Renaissance. In the sixteenth century, as England was increasingly
influenced by classical writers, scholars began translating into
English large numbers of Greek and Latin texts. […]
As a consequence of these two influences, our vocabulary is the most
varied of any modern European language. […] But this flexibility has come with a
price. Since the language of political, cultural, scientific, and
economic affairs is based largely on Romance words, those of us who
aspire to participate have had to learn a vocabulary separate from
that which we learned through the first five or ten years of our
lives. Just as we have to spend a good deal of time in school learning
the idiosyncrasies of our spelling system and of "good" grammar, so
must we spend time learning words not rooted in our daily experience. […]
And of course once we learn these words, who among us can resist using
them when we want to sound learned and authoritative? Writers began to
surrender to that temptation well before the middle of the sixteenth
century, but it was about then that many English writers became so
enamored with an erudite vocabulary that they began deliberately to
lard their prose with exotic Latinisms, a kind of writing that came to
be known as the "inkhorn" style and was mocked as pretentious and
incomprehensible by those critics for whom English had become a
special passion. This impulse toward an elevated diction has proved
quite durable; it accounts for the difference today between "The
adolescents who had effectuated forcible entry into the domicile were
apprehended" and "We caught the kids who broke into the house.”
I hope these quotes help to explain my interest in avoiding Latinate
To be clear though, I don’t seek to avoid all Latinate. I am no extremist. But in some cases, in my scientific writing (I am an economist, as you may have guessed), I find that non-Latinate words can bring more clarity to the reader.
I’m looking for useful tips especially for dedicated resources (not general dictionaries and thesauruses) that will allow me to quickly exchange Latinate for non-Latinate. I hope the post-police will let this question through now, so that Canned Man, John Lawler, myself and others can have a productive discussion on this interesting topic.
I know about this, but it’s too short. A bodily book I can buy and hold would be best.
Is this "writing advice (off-topic)"?
No, this is "word choice and usage" and therefore "welcomed here", at least according to the help page.
Am I requesting a list?
What I am actually after are dedicated resources (rather than general dictionaries and thesauruses), as well as tips and methods that will help writers of the English language improve their usage by avoiding Latinate. ("Usage", after all, does appear in the title of this stack, i.e. "English Language & Usage".)
Whilst I agree with the commenters, I will try to help you on your way. I think what you are looking for is Pure English, that is: Anglish. A good place to start is The Anglish Moot, which is hosted by a Wiki page which collects knowledge and includes a thesaurus and a dictionary for use in daily speech and writing. They also have a link to a Discord. Another source is Anglish Wiki, which also host an Anglish dictionary.
For physical books, consider finding a book of William Barnes’s poetry. Yes, that is straight from Wikipedia, and so is this:
The September 2009 publication How We’d Talk if the English had Won in 1066 by David Cowley updates Old English words to today’s English spelling, seeking mainstream appeal by covering words in five grades ranging from “easy” to “weird and wonderful” and giving many examples of use with drawings and tests. Paul Kingsnorth’s 2014 The Wake is written in a hybrid of Old English and Modern English to account for its 1066 milieu, and Edmund Fairfax’s 2017 satiric literary novel Outlaws is similarly written in a “constructed” form of English consisting almost exclusively of words of Germanic origin.
I must state, though, that I am not even sure I should be posting this answer, as it is so far from what EL&U is about. If the question was rephrased, stating some examples of what you are looking for, and was not just simply a ‘Where can I find this thing?’, your question would have been received better. I am sorry, this is a bit harsh, but I do feel that this question in its current state comes across as not showing effort.