Modern English was used from the late 15th century to the mid to late 17th century.

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When is the period that coined the most English words?

It seems that there are numerous words being made every day. This got me wondering, when was the historic period when most new words were formed that are still part of Modern Standard English? Since ...
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Is “to say” in Hamlet's “and by a sleep to say we end” an infinitive or an adverb?

I was trying to identify the word classes of Hamlet's famous monologue "To be or not to be", and I'm really having trouble deciding what word class "to say" in "and by sleep to say we end the ...
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What word did Middle English have in place of “light" as in: “light blue”, “light green” etc.?

In English, we often use the adjective light before another colour to express a whiter shade of hue. For example, light blue, light green, light brown, etc. The term pale is used in a similar way, e....
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Do vs Dost, the difference [closed]

"Thou coward knight, why wilt thou not do battle with me?" -The Age of Chivalry, Chapter 16 In this sentence, why is do not dost? Very commonly do I see the word dost be used in older text in place ...
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639 views

What was “static electricity” known as before the discovery of electricity?

People must have dealt with static electrical discharge for thousands of years; well before they began to understand the principles of electricity. What would a static discharge be called in early ...
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Difference between Thee and thou?

What is the difference between thee and thou and how are they used?
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30 views

Is there a modern book comparable to Crabb's English Synonymes?

EDIT: I am looking for a book to make a study of modern synonyms. @WS2 recommended what appears to be a book of exceptional quality, but it has great depth in a few topic areas rather than a breadth ...
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786 views

Are English language books translated to contemporary English? [closed]

Were Shakespeare books translated to contemporary English? Which version is more common? Is there a rule to choose which books will have its language updated? Are poems updated too? From which year I ...
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115 views

In EModE should 'may' become 'mayest' when expressing a wish

I'm translating a text from Sanskrit, which has a singular/plural (and, actually, dual) distinction in the second person. It has long been the custom in English translation to render the 2nd singular ...
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295 views

Early Modern English second person present tense when verb ends with ‑st

In Early Modern English you normally would add ‑st or ‑est to verbs to conjugate them to the second person singular indicative tense (past and present), but what do you do for verbs that already end ...
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113 views

What does 'measuring cast' mean? (1660, UK)

Source: 'Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance', by Sir Matthew Hale (1609-1676) If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to mercy and acquittal. How do you ...
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23 views

The difference between thee and thou [duplicate]

“Thee” and “thou” are the pronouns in Early Modern English, I think they mean “you”, but what is the difference between them?
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How do you parse 'by this which is said'? (1654 UK)

Preface: I first encountered the following on p 83, Philosophy: A Complete Introduction (2012) by Prof Sharon Kaye (MA PhD in Philosophy, U. Toronto). I already tried, but do not see a modern ...
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What animal is a “weefil”?

What animal is depicted in this image labelled “weefil”?
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“As I am wo/man” in Twelfth Night, II, 2 (Shakespeare): a case of indefinite article omission or no?

Are "As I am man" and "As I am woman" in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, II, 2 examples of indefinite article omission or not? This question is (e)specially directed towards those familiar with ...
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55 views

What was the usage of EModE’s four-form system for answering yes–no questions?

It is well-known that Early Modern English, if not earlier forms of English too, had a four-form system for answering yes–no questions. ‘Yea’ and ‘nay’ answered questions phrased positively (analogous ...
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Why did final -ie become so popular during early Modern English?

A hallmark of Early Modern English is that it exhibits a lot of variance between the use of final -y and -ie. In the 16th century -ie is even found in Old English words, eg stonie. And Mulcaster in ...
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41 views

Ridpath's Boethius translation

I don't know if this is the right place to ask, but I'll do it anyway. I am a student from Austria and one of our professors has given us a task which seems rather demanding. He wants us to analyze ...
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News lacks plural but what about TIDINGS?

News is used only in the singular (being one of the uncountable nouns). There is an old-fashioned word meaning pretty much the same - tidings, so my question is: Is this expression used only in ...
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131 views

What is the grammatical designation of “that” in “…that she may have…”?

The following sentence is the Modern English translation of a line from the Old English poem Judith: He (God) advanced a gracious favour to her, that she may have a steadfast faith. My question ...
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What does “ioyning” mean?

From Butter’s news serial, 2nd August, 1622: The certaine Newes of this preſent Weeke. BROVGHT BY SVNDRY Poſts from ſeuerall places, but chiefly the progreſſe and arriuall of ...
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638 views

Earlier in the day meaning? [closed]

Today ,while reading news paper I came across the sentence "she had gone shopping earlier in the day " ....what does it mean ......? My conjecture "yesterday ?
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Which was the first dictionary and how was it decided which words went into it?

I've heard the riddle: "If Websters' was the first dictionary where did he get all the words from?" It has quite since intrigued me, honestly. Which was the first English language dictionary and how ...
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101 views

Roger Ascham his language

As I was finishing Ascham's "Toxophilus" I've stumbled over this phrase, the meaning of which remained unclear to me: "An other wil stand poyntinge his shafte at the marke a good whyle and by and by ...
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Is there a resource for viewing all the languages? [closed]

Maybe this is the wrong website, but is there a link to see all the languages (current and past)?
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Thank thou or Thank thee

How would Shakespeare have said "Thank you"? Can't decide if it is thee or thou, since it isn't really a sentence.
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How did you know when to say “thing haveth or something”? [duplicate]

I have been watching Hocus Pocus and wondered how people in the 1800s knew when to add eth on the end of words.
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A word or term for driver /car taking no passengers

I need a term or a single word in traditional English or modern English which specifies "a car which has nothing but the driver & empty seats" Please help.
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96 views

Childhood, English(England) rhymes are so disappointing,why? [closed]

When I was a kid, I was taught these poems: Georgie porgie Humpty Dumpty I know Humpty Dumpty was actually a canon, but still it was taught as Egg twins. So only take it on context of rhyme. Piggy ...
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107 views

What governed present subjunctive uses in archaic English?

Source, para 4 : p 2 of 2, 'Against YA', by Ruth Graham, slate.com Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this. I know, I know: Live and let ...
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127 views

18th century phrase, the “Great End”

In the grant for the Philips Academy there is language which I find difficult to ascertain the real meaning. From the bottom of page 463 here ...to lay the foundation of a free public School or ...
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76 views

What does “gages and safety pledges” mean in Henry VIII era English?

What does gages and safety pledges mean in this old passage, and when is the Octave of St. Michael? The King to the Sheriff of Notthinghamshire: greeting. If John Smith shall make you secure to ...
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Archaic English new words: from a Nigerian [closed]

A Nigerian Governor was being interviewed by a local Television station. He was speaking of the political situation of Rivers state in Nigeria. Nigeria is an English speaking country because it was a ...
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Principles in the use of letters 'b', 'u' and 'v' in Early Modern English typography

I have been reading a medical book by one late surgeon Thomas Gale. I was wondering the following mix-up of letters 'u','v' and 'b'. This states: "to have the cure of". Letter 'u' is used in the ...
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“That heresies should arise, we have the prophesie of Christ…”

That heresies should arise, we have the prophesie of Christ; but that old ones should be abolished, we hold no prediction. This is a quote from Religio Medici (1643) by Thomas Browne. It's quoted in ...
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Word to describe the structure that holds/stores a shield (and possibly other weapons)

I am looking for a word that would used to describe either many shields, or a structure that would be used to carry them in storage. If I look at this medieval photo, there is a wooden structure on ...
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Odd possessive form of a proper name: Why does Dryden write “Lord Nonsuch his” instead of “Lord Nonsuch’s” but “Bibber’s” instead of “Bibber his”?

While researching a question posed on EL&U, I came across this list of the characters in John Dryden’s The Wild Gallant (1663), from a 1735 collection of Dryden’s works: DRAMATIS PERSONAE. ...
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Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
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“Up with the… ” (complete the saying for waking up early) [closed]

If you wake up early, what is the saying for this? Beginning with the words: "Up with the..."
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Recent grammar additions

A lot of questions have been dedicated to how evolution of English got many constructs of the old either fall out of use, merge, or evolve into different forms but still with 1:1 relation to original. ...
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What does the word 'Joll' mean in 18th century English?

What does joll mean in the following sentence? ... give him the upper or right hand, and walk not just even with him cheek be joll, but a little behind him, yet not so distant as that it shall be ...
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Is English considered easier to learn than most of the other languages in the world? [closed]

In comparison to the other languages, I think English is much more simpler. For example, compared to French, English nouns have no gender, adjectives have only one form and verbs have extremely simple ...
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“I must to England” in Hamlet: What does “must” mean without an infinitive?

What did "must" mean when used as a non-modal verb (sorry, I don't know the technical term) in Early Modern English? For example: I must to England; you know that? (Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV)
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Where can I find a modern English version of King James’s “Counterblaste to Tobacco”?

I find A Counterblaste to Tobacco by James I very interesting. Many people are under the impression that anti-tobacco sentiment began in the last century, and this document pretty thoroughly refutes ...
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Explanation of a sentence in “Adam lay ybounden”

In the carol "Adam lay ybounden", there's a line that goes: As clerkes finden, written in their book Is "finden" the infinitive form of "find"? I thought it should be "found" or maybe "would ...
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Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries

It seems to have been common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain to capitalise the first letters of nouns in English, e.g. At which Time he prov'd himself the Noah's Dove, that ...
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No direct object in 'give thee faithfully to follow' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington)

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington If the Lord would show thee but this one thing, -- that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper ...
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What would be the modern equivalent for “a curtain lecture”?

I chanced on this expression while reading a book by David Crystal. In a chapter dedicated to words that have disappeared from the English language, he mentions this gem in Samuel Johnson's Dictionary:...
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What's the subject of 'mind not so much to know' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington) [duplicate]

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington The Lord so guide thee, manifest himself to thee, help thee, and lead thee by his Holy Spirit and power, as that thou ...
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What is the early modern equivalent of ' I think ' [closed]

Would the term 'I think' be used in this era? I'm looking at translation for a piece of art, I'm wanting to translate flippant/meaningless language from today (things people say drunk, tweets etc.) ...