For example, in Verses upon the duke of Buckinghams returne from the Ile of Rees (https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/ceres/ehoc/lessons/lesson1/index.html) the poet spells "art" as "ar't" in the phrase "And ar't return'd again with all thy faults..."

What is that apostrophe eliding?

Addition: I see that the OED shows "art" as the second person singular (archaic) of the verb "to be", with a citation "1535 Bible (Coverdale) Psalms cxxvii. 2 O well is the, happie art thou." So there is a use with the following "thou", so "ar't" can't be a contraction of "are thou".

My thoughts are converging on the apostrophe being a mistake (much like so many people now use apostrophes in plurals - "Pad's available") caused by the writer thinking that "art" is a contraction of "art thou". Shakespeare uses "Art cold?", "art mad?" in King Lear without the apostrophe (ref First Folio), but later writers quoting King Lear insert the apostrophe for some reason (cf Wells, Poetic Imagery, 1924).

  • Since the Duke of Buckingham led the military expedition the Île de Ré ('Ile of Rees') in 1627, and Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, the tag 'elizabethan-english' is not really appropriate, and also this is a matter of transcription. – Michael Harvey May 26 at 10:34
  • As the example is from a piece of verse it's possible that the apostrophe is an indication of non-standard pronunciation used to maintain the metre. This would make it similar to the hyphen sometimes used in hymn books giving phrases like "Bless-ed be the Lord". A grave accent is now more common but the hyphen used to be used a lot. – BoldBen May 26 at 10:42
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    @MichaelHarvey Since there is no jacobean-english tag, I thought elizabethan-english would be the most helpful. I don't think the language changed that much in a few years to make my use of the tag misleading. Also, this has nothing to do with transcription: the apostrophe is in the manuscript. – D Mac May 26 at 14:33
  • Quite possibly the manuscript is a copy made by a scribe. – Michael Harvey May 26 at 14:41

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