So i'm new here just to start this out to begin with. So I hope you can understand my grammatically incorrect sentences. So any ways let me explain the context of this question, I am writing a short historical fiction story set in renaissance era Eastern Europe and One of the lines I was going to have one of the characters say after defeating the Ottomans Turks in a battle was "The savages flee before us in defeat, just like the cowards they are". Now most of this short story would be written in grammatically modern English but I wanted to throw in a few lines here and there that sound archaic. Even although it is quasi-archaic sounding. Also to add in a way referring to other peoples that sounds periodically accurate for peoples in that era's points of views. So is what I have said previously be modern English grammatically correct or not at all ? So one other way I was thinking of wording that line was "The savages flee from us in defeat". I wanted this one line to imitate but not directly copy the style of writing from this period as if it were to have been in English instead of Romanian but then again i'm trying to simulate but not directly copy the exact style of speaking in that era. I wish to write this story that in a way it has a semi-old feeling to it all Finally I would like to ask you all to excuse me for making this question really long and that when one does answer this I would like that person to explain how I may better my style of writing and grammar.

closed as off-topic by tchrist, 200_success, Kris, Ellie Kesselman, Drew Apr 4 '15 at 3:44

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    I would think writing advice is more appropriate on Writing. As for the choice of words for a "period" effect, one needs to be more specific here on ELU: chose a word, phrase, expression or idiom and ask for its specific-period equivalent. – Kris Mar 31 '15 at 5:50
  • See what happened to this post: english.stackexchange.com/questions/6302/… – Kris Mar 31 '15 at 5:51
  • Sorry to say this, but as you yourself consider your English improvable in one way or another, why bother about dialogue lines sounding archaic when, telling from your post, the whole of your short story will look like written by one of your Eastern Europe characters? Your first concern should be writing your text in "sound", correct English. One way to improve your English would be reading, reading, reading, another finding a good proofreader who is patient enough to explain all your mistakes to you and who can help you along the stony way to a good text. – Martin Schwehla Mar 31 '15 at 6:33

The savages flee before us in defeat, just like the cowards they are.

For the most part, this sentence is perfectly fine. Nevertheless, before anyone can really tell you what is correct in 'archaic' English, you need to specify which era of archaic English you mean. For the sake of example, I will assume Elizabethan, since that's what usually pops into peoples' heads when they hear 'archaic English'.

I'll start by saying that your sentence, as is, will seem fine to most readers; nevertheless, to someone versed in any older variety of English, just like sticks out like a sore thumb. The adverb just is a recent development. The tricky part is that the adverb just encompasses altogether too many meanings, including simply, only, merely, and several others. Here, however, it means none of those, and I don't believe that there is any other modern equivalent. But we are in luck, for a speaker of Elizabethan English would use even to cover this meaning.

Unfortunately, no one would ever say even like, since the very meaning of like, being similar, was quite opposite that of even, which roughly meant same, equal(ly). So, some part of the sentence must be either removed or changed. You might use any one of the following:

The savages flee before us in defeat, like the cowards they are.

The savages flee before us in defeat, cowardly as they are.

The savages flee before us in defeat, baring their cowardice.

Or really any variation thereof.

If you have an interest in understanding Elizabethan grammar, then I recommend you read works from that period. Once you've read a fair amount, you may benefit from perusing this book.

  • Well, yes thanks for your help but I was intending on setting it to take place between 1455-1477 in Wallachia and that it would is a partially fictionalized biography of Vlad III of Wallachia. Now granted it will have some things changed for it to be more entertaining to an audience who is not there to read a 100% historically accurate story. So I would pretty much be dumbning it down for people who don't actually care to read very deeply into actual history so I don't mean to create a full length novel just a short story. – Alonzo Galaviz Mar 31 '15 at 8:07
  • Well, yes it would take place in the Renaissance era, but to give you an idea of what type of historical English I envisioned was the English during the reign of Henry VII of England of the Tudor family. Even though he is Welsh and as such their native language in that era is not English, but I'm getting away from the point. So it would take place a hundred years before Elizabeth I of England reign. As I can imagine English had changed a good amount in that century. That would has passed between the beginning of the story to the example you gave. – Alonzo Galaviz Mar 31 '15 at 8:19
  • In that case, you still can't go wrong by omitting just, which is my only real suggestion for that sentence. The only meaning of just at the time was righteous, lawful. English went through a fair amount of changes in that century, and so pinpointing what would and wouldn't sound normal might be difficult. – Anonym Mar 31 '15 at 16:27

I would like that person to explain how I may better my style of writing and grammar.

A few general suggestions for you:

If English isn't your first language, you might find another forum helpful, not just for your own questions, but also to read other questions and their answers -- https://ell.stackexchange.com/

Try working with a good spell checker that does grammar checking too.

Try separating your paragraphs into sentences, so that each sentence is on a new line. Set yourself a maximum sentence length, and see how well you can keep to that. At a later stage in your work, you can combine the sentences into one paragraph again. (This exercise, I am hoping, will help you avoid run-on sentences and overly long sentences.)

I am writing a short historical fiction story set in renaissance era Eastern Europe

It sounds like an exciting project. But I have a question. Do you think it's a realistic goal? Do you think the various styles of English come naturally enough to you for this project? A piece of writing can sound painfully labored if the author has had to spend a great deal of his energy worrying about whether his grammar was correct, whether his idioms sounded authentic, and so on.

My impression is that you are a creative person. Is there a creative writing project you could do where your own style of writing in English would be an asset, and would not slow you down? A project where your inner ear has more confidence? Maybe you could write in another language, but put in some English phrases for added color? Maybe you could write a story about a non-native English speaker? Then you wouldn't have to bend and hammer at your natural way of writing, and try to sound like someone you are not.

  • Oh wow, I did not realize my English is that bad. What also makes this worse for me is that I am from the U.S. too, so with one problem being that this is embarrassing for me and two being I Never had the impression that my English was just that awful so for that I apologize. So this certainly is a revelation to me. Well this awkward for me. – Alonzo Galaviz Mar 31 '15 at 7:46
  • Well yeah, you got me there in that I have a terrible work ethic and that I probably should have been more clear with what I meant. So what I meant by that part about "a short story" is maybe a 24 -30 page document about the major events in the life of Vlad III of Wallachia. Since I personally feel that there isn't a lot of work out there about the actual Vlad Tepes in the English language. Or as he is better knows as "Dracula". So what I am intending on is writing a partial biography-historical fiction work. So of course, some things will be fictionalized but just for entertainment purposes. – Alonzo Galaviz Mar 31 '15 at 7:52
  • @AlonzoGalaviz, I'm very sorry for jumping to conclusions and offending you. I suppose what got me thinking in the wrong direction was your second sentence, "So I hope you can understand my grammatically incorrect sentences." Also, you might not realize this, but a fair number of English language learners (ELLs) pose questions on this forum. And maybe your vernacular style confused me too. Anyway, now that we've cleared up my misunderstanding -- I will wish you happy writing! It sounds like you will have a lot of fun with your project. – aparente001 Apr 1 '15 at 2:53

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