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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.) into early modern english- or the type of language used in shakespeare. If anyone has any knowledge in this field I would greatly appreciate your help!!

  • Used in what particular context? Do you have any possible ideas? Could you supply a whole sentence? – WS2 Jan 25 '15 at 22:49
  • "I think" could be used in a few different contexts. I think I'll have a salad tonight. I think about Martha all the time. Joe was wrong about that, I think. And what time frame do you mean when you refer to the "early modern" era? If you edit your question and address such details, people might be able to answer your question. As it stands now, I think it might be hard to supply any kind of answer. – J.R. Jan 25 '15 at 22:54
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    I suspect you are thinking about the archaic word methinks. – Colin Fine Jan 25 '15 at 23:01
  • See also meseems. Seem and think useta mean more or less the same thing, and both had dative subject constructions: Methinks (that) S and Meseems (that) S. But in modern English they've gone separate ways; think is now transitive with an experiencer or agent subject, the thinker. Seem, on the other hand, has promoted the experience to subject while making the experiencer optional. Viz, I think the Hawks are likely to win vs It seems the Hawks are likely to win. – John Lawler Jan 25 '15 at 23:08
  • @JohnLawler Dative subject constructions? I have always parsed both as impersonal, translatable into PDE as "it seems to me." – Brian Donovan Jan 25 '15 at 23:24
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For your purposes (a somewhat-serious but humorous "translation" of some modern text into Elizabethan English), you'll want to emphasize the phrasing differences between the two forms.

So, for times when you need to translate "I think", you would use the well-understood but archaic word methinks, and for times when you need to translate the third person (e.g. "Vince thinks"), you would use the archaic phrase "doth think", which while uncommon in Shakespeare does indeed appear.

Zounds! Vince doth think that my loins burn!

  • One cannot possibly find a better example of Early Modern English than the King James I version of the bible. – WS2 Jan 26 '15 at 8:12

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