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Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2

What wouldst thou have, Laertes?

Laer.

My dread lord,

Your leave and favour to return to France;

This text is from the second quarto(Q2). In the first folio(F1), "My dread lord" is replaced by "Dread my lord". I checked three different annotated texts edited by Harold Jenkins, Philip Edwards, Dover Wilson respectively. All of them adopted "My dread lord". I wonder why.

I think "What wouldst thou have, Laertes?" and "My dread lord" or "Dread my lord" make a (reverse) iambic pentameter. If so, it seems to me that "Dread my lord" is more suitable.

closed as unclear what you're asking by tchrist, andy256, Drew, FumbleFingers, Misti Jan 12 '15 at 22:01

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  • "More suitable" for the meter, perhaps, but it's no longer clear that dread is an adjective. Dread is no longer an adjective at all (except in that horribly awkward pseudo-ancient fantasy writing style), so the question is whether usage had begun to slip at the time, and the order was required to resolve ambiguity. – bye Sep 30 '14 at 2:18
  • @bye According to a Shakespeare's glossary book "Shakespeare's Language" by Eugene Shewmaker, "dread" is an adjective meaning "deeply revered". – ivanhoescott Sep 30 '14 at 2:45
  • Yes, it was, and I'm not disputing that it ever meant that, but it is now a noun or verb meaning (essentially) fear. The question is when did that happen? Going to as a simple marker of the future popped up out of nowhere between 1600 and 1645, for instance. The language was in a tremendous state of flux at the time. – bye Sep 30 '14 at 2:53
  • The meter is "my dread lord, your leave and favour to return to France", not (as the OP appears to suggest?) split over "What wouldst thou have Laertes? My dread Lord". Whichever word order is used, the meter remains the same. – Roaring Fish Sep 30 '14 at 6:05
  • @RoaringFish "my dread lord, your leave and favour to return to France" This is not an iambic pentameter. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iambic_pentameter – ivanhoescott Sep 30 '14 at 7:05
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Shakespeare used word order in many ways. Usually, we put words first for emphasis.

An online dictionary has this:

"dread: Archaic. deep awe or reverence."

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