The Landscape Guide

Landscape HISTORY & THEORY: History, Theory, Sustainability, Books, Vitruvius, Landscape Architecture, Manifesto, Lanship, Mimesis, Professional Oath, Landscape Architecture History and Theory CD, Definitions,

Lanship = Friendship between people and places

The word 'lanship' was devised by Tom Turner [for an unpublished book on English Landscape Design (1979) - it was eventually expanded and published as two books, on English Garden Design (1986) and Landscape Planning (1987)]. The idea for its coinage came from the analysis of the derivation of the word landscape included in Chapter 1 English Garden Design. Briefly, the word landscape was formed by adding the suffix -ship to the concrete noun -land. This converts a concrete noun into an abstract noun. My reasoning is explained in the below extract from the 1979 book.

"One cannot disagree with either the scientific or philosophical logic behind these changes but one can regret the near-loss of ‘landscape’ as a word with a favourable evaluative connotation. It is rather as if the words ‘friend’, ‘home’, and ‘life’ had suddenly lost their evaluative connotations and become equivalent to ‘acquaintance’, ‘house’ and ‘existence’. As individuals we aim to make a friend, a home and a life, not an acquaintance, a house and an existence. As designers we try to make a landscape in the sense ‘a good place’, not in the sense ‘a tract of land’. Confusion between the two senses of ‘landscape’ occurs very easily and the problem is accentuated by our lack of an abstract noun or an adjective to go with the evaluative sense of ‘landscape’. We do not have an adjective, like friendly, to distinguish the quality which marks a landscape, or an abstract noun, like friendship, to describe a relationship between ourselves and a landscape. This suggests a need for two new words. A logical method of forming them is proposed in the next paragraph but the job of word-formation calls more for a poet than for a landscape designer.

The simplest method of building a new word is to add a suffix onto an old word. ‘Landscape’ was itself formed in this way. The Old English suffix ‘-scipe’ was joined onto the substantive ‘land’ to make the composite ‘land-scipe’ which had the meaning ‘region’ in Old English. ‘Land-scipe’ became obsolete but a cognate word survived in Dutch and, as we have seen, became a special painters’ term meaning ‘a perfect vision of the earth’. Not the earth itself but an abstract view of the earth. The Old English suffix ‘-scipe’ is equivalent to the Dutch ‘-scape’ and to our modern suffix ‘-ship’. We can convert ‘landscape’ into an abstract noun by adding on the same suffix with which the word was originally formed. The resulting word ‘landscapeship’ is cumbersome but can easily be shortened to produce ‘lanship’ with a logical grammer similar to that of ‘friendship’. Just as friendship describes a relationship between two people, so ‘lanship’ would describe a: relationship between people and land. By using the suffix ‘-ful’ we can then form the word ‘lanshipful’ with a logical grammer similar to that of ‘beautiful’. The following sentences illustrate some possible uses of the new words

  • Fine old gardens are eminently lanshipful.
  • The north face of the Eiger is beautiful but not lanshipful
  • The dust bowl in North American was an example of thoroughly bad lanship.
  • A community depends upon friendship between its members and lanship with its environment.
  • With good landscape design there can be lanship between a new reservoir, the local community, visitors, and the existing landscape.

The meaning of the word ‘lanship’ in the above sentences can be defined as ‘friendship between people and places’ or ‘harmony between the works of man and their surroundings’. Defined in this way, lanship is clearly a desirable state of affairs for designers to aim at."

Contextual note: the approximate context in which the above was placed is after the phrase shaping processes or agents in Chapter 1 of English Garden Design.

No lanship in these parts
of Canary Wharf

Lanship at the Jardin
(above) and
the Via Appia Antica (below)