2

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2.

within a month;

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears

Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,

She married:

I'm wondering about the meaning of "yet" in the sentence above.

  • 2
    @CarSmack "Yet" has several meanings. I'm asking which one it has. – ivanhoescott Oct 17 '14 at 1:32
  • 2
    Well, I do not believe this website is meant to be a resource for explaining the language of Hamlet. There are probably websites that do that, and I know there are books that have plenty of notes on the play's language. – pazzo Oct 17 '14 at 1:37
  • 3
    @CarSmack If asking about the archaic meaning of the word is off topic, why are there the tags "meaning" and "etymology"? – ivanhoescott Oct 17 '14 at 1:38
  • 2
    @CarSmack "It means yet." If you don't know the answer, leave me alone, please. – ivanhoescott Oct 17 '14 at 1:57
  • 2
    CarSmack - what the heck is wrong with you today dude? Your points are bizarre. "Well, I do not believe this website is meant to be a resource for explaining the language of Hamlet" Huh? there are any number of questions on here about archaic language in Shakespeare. It's the perfect example question for this site. – Fattie Oct 17 '14 at 9:10
6

Sometimes it helps to change the word order of a puzzling and/or archaic sentence when you're trying to work out the exact significance of its individual elements. (This is particularly so with poetry, where the poet may have moved a word from its expected position in a sentence in order to accommodate the dictates of metre and scansion.) Updating the vocabulary can also help.

For instance, here we can take the original,

Within a month; // Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears // Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, // She married:

and tweak it to produce the following:

Within a month, before the salt of [her] most unrighteous tears had yet left the flushing [I assume this means 'redness'] in her galled eyes, she married:

According to the 1828 Websters, galled means "Having the skin or surface worn or torn by wearing or rubbing; fretted; teased; injured; vexed".

If we disregard considerations of linguistic beauty and focus purely on updating the language even further and removing distracting ornamentation in order to clarify the exact meaning, we might end up with something like this:

Before her insincere tears had even left the eyes which she had rubbed red, within a month she had married:

Still today, you could render this using 'yet' instead of 'even':

Before her insincere tears had yet left the eyes which she had rubbed red, within a month she had married:

But I think you'd run the risk of sounding rather old-fashioned if you did.

Edit

(Just to spell it out, in this context yet = even.)

Alternatively, you could rephrase my version thus:

Her insincere tears had not even left the eyes that she had rubbed red, when within a month she had married:

  • EK, your long answer is fantastic, but the question is simply what's the YET mean. – Fattie Oct 17 '14 at 9:09
  • FTR I had utterly no clue what you meant for "yet"! :) BTW, pointing out that yet can be used (even today) to mean "even" is a great point; I hadn't thought of it. – Fattie Oct 17 '14 at 9:19
  • @JoeBlow - I've updated my answer to incorporate my clarifications. – Erik Kowal Oct 17 '14 at 9:28
  • 2
    @JoeBlow I think OP didn't realize that yet was supposed to go with "Had left the flushing in her galled eyes," and was trying to make sense of the combination "Ere yet", hence the question what does yet mean [in "Ere yet"]. – M.M Oct 17 '14 at 10:54
  • Where's the answer? I think it means: even before. – Lambie Jun 29 '18 at 23:40
3

It doesn't add any meaning - "Ere the salt... had left" would mean the same - but it does add a bit of emphasis to "ere", and more importantly it pads out the meter, so that "Ere yet" has the same rhythm as "Had left" in the next line.

  • Even before is what it means. – Lambie Jun 28 '18 at 21:59
  • 1
    Yes - but the "even" in "even before" doesn't add any meaning. Slight emphasis - which is exactly what I said in my answer - but no change in meaning. – MT_Head Jun 29 '18 at 0:24
  • You don't actually say what it means in your answer. You keep saying "it" and you don't break it down. – Lambie Jun 29 '18 at 23:39
  • 1) That's an interesting objection, considering how your initial comment was worded: "Even before is what it means." 2) My answer was a direct response to the last sentence of the OP's question: "I'm wondering about the meaning of 'yet' in the sentence above." 3) The word "yet" does have meaning, it's true. But in this sentence, it does not actually add meaning - it is only an intensifier. Which is what I said in the first place. Reading comprehension - it's A Thing. – MT_Head Jun 30 '18 at 0:57
  • Question: What is "yet"? Answer: "ere yet" here forms a "unit" to mean "even before". – Lambie Jun 30 '18 at 13:52
0

From Hamlet

Within a month.

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears

Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married.

Even before the salt of her crocodile tears had been washed out of her sore eyes, she married.

Coriolanus:

See here these movers that do prize their hours At a crack'd drachm! Cushions, leaden spoons, Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves, Ere yet the fight be done, pack up: down with them!

Even before the fight is done.

Henry the Fifth:

But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim; And my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere night

Even before night falls

Together, ere plus yet means: even before

OLD hymn: 1 Ere yet the dawn hath filled the skies, = Even before

Behold my Savior Christ arise;

He chaseth from us sin and night

And brings us joy and life and light.

Hallelujah!

enter link description here

ere

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.