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Questions tagged [early-modern-english]

Early Modern English was used from the late 15th century to the mid to late 17th century.

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Is capitalization of the personal pronoun “I” a modern thing in English? [duplicate]

In an answer to a question I asked, the user included an extract from a text seemingly written in older English. Not Old English, but definitely older English, made evident by the fact it spelled e.g. ...
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Which of these sources is right about “The Tempest”? [migrated]

This is part of a quote by Ferdinand in the beginning of scene 1 of act 3 of "The Tempest": But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours, Most busy, least when I do it. According to ...
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1answer
119 views

What was the pronunciation of the a in “trap” in early to mid Modern English in the UK?

I have often read that in Old and Middle English the "a" sound in words like "trap" was pronouned /a/. When it comes to modern English, Wikipedia suggests that this was raised to /æ/ in early Modern ...
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1answer
47 views

How is “ought” used in this King James Bible verse?

There's a use of the word "ought" from the Bible I don't understand. I've highlighted the relevant word: Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: ...
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1answer
85 views

Devil take the hindmost!

I came across the following old proverb in which I noticed that a bare infinitive verb is used after a singular subject. Devil take ...
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2answers
534 views

What is the possessive case and the objective case of “ye?”

I know very well that archaically, "thou" is the nominative case for the modern day "you" while "thee" is the accusative case and that there is no distinction between the nominative and accusative ...
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1answer
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Looking for a list of hapax legomena that have lost their meanings over time [closed]

These are words that have lost their meanings over time and can't be reconstructed from context, as it only appeared in that context once and not in others. I've searched with Google but came up empty....
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Origin of “rank hath its privileges”

It's often seen with "has," but the frequent appearance of "hath" suggests the saying may be much, much older. Early Modern English always suggests Shakespeare to me, but my Google-fu hath failed me ...
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Shakespeare's Macbeth “Conduct me to (mine) host” Mine host vs My Host

The first time I heard "mine host" in Shakespeare's Macbeth, I went to Wiktionary to see if it once was used instead of "my," however, I ended up with that it should not be followed by a noun but ...
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a conditional sentence with “had + past participle” in both the apodosis and the protasis

In older texts one finds this construction, which one may be tempted to call the past conditional second form (after the example of le conditionnel passé deuxième forme): If you had lied to me, I ...
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3answers
209 views

Early Modern English: Shakespearean Insult [duplicate]

I think many are familiar with the famous line from Shakespeare: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. What I seek to do is keep the analogy but change ...
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1answer
211 views

Conjugation of 'shall' in Early Modern English

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the Third Witch says to Banquo: "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none" (1.3.65); if I want to quote that line and write it in the third person singular, how should I ...
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2answers
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What is the meaning of 'plain' dangerous?

I watched a movie and found a line saying: It's just plain dangerous. They carry different diseases than we do. I am wondering what the meaning of 'plain' dangerous is? I checked Cambridge ...
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4answers
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Is that an “r” in “worship” in a text from 1591?

I was trying to see how the Spanish word merced was translated into English in the 16th century, when I found this entry in a dictionary from 1591 by Richard Percyvall: I understand that the second ...
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1answer
86 views

Is there any evidence for “altercate” ever having been pronounced with stress on the second syllable?

In modern English, polysyllabic verbs ending in -ate are regularly stressed on the third-to-last syllable. (There are some (possible) exceptions, such as incarnate, impregnate, and elongate.) But it ...
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2answers
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What's the meaning of 'mean for sport' in a line from the movie, “The Help”?

I watched a great movie, The Help, released in 2011 and starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Octavia Spencer. In the movie, there is a scene in which there is a conversation about ...
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2answers
353 views

How old is the practice of hyphenating compound adjectives?

In Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part One at 1.3.230 Hotspur refers to Hal contemptuously as that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales At Internet Shakespeare Editions the “Modern” ...
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3answers
96 views

The meaning of the dance title “All In a Garden Green”

There is a 17th century English dance/tune named "All in a Garden Green" (first published in John Playford's The English Dancing Master in 1651). What is the most probable exact meaning of the title? ...
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1answer
158 views

Renaissance pronunciation of “thither”: θiðr or ðiðr?

I've seen the thread on voiced/unvoiced "thither," but it doesn't quite answer the question. It seems like maybe the word began falling out of regular speech right around the time initial "th" was ...
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1answer
279 views

Third person present and past in King James Bible

I am currently reading the Gospel According to John in a King James Version of the Bible, and I cannot understand the use of the third person singular in some of the verses: 1:38 Then Jesus turned, ...
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Capitalization in 18th Century English [duplicate]

I have often wondered about the (seemingly) arbitrary capitalization of words in 17th & 18th century English, and again today, came across this quote by Edmund Burke in Sylvia Nasar's Grand ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “care” in “ my care is like a shadow in the sun”

In the poem “On Monsieur’s Departure” attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England, we find this passage: My care is like my shadow in the sun Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it, Stands ...
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2answers
648 views

Why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?” in archaic forms of English?

When I was looking for “ye” in a dictionary, I stumbled upon the phrase “Who be ye?”. But why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?”? The modern equivalent of “ye” would be “you”, wouldn’t it? “Who ...
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3answers
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What is the grammar behind 'if either thee dislike'?

This sentence appears in Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet': Juliet: My ears have yet drunk a hundred words, Of thy tone's uttering, and yet I know the sound. Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague? Romeo: ...
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2answers
328 views

'Anytime' and 'ever'

Actually I am a non native English speaker, of course I may come across many confusion but I don't care of those much,but curious some times to know about the things. I know the meaning of 'Ever' ...
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1answer
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Problem with “mine” while translating this phrase into early modern english

I'm translating a certain phrase from Japanese, and its roughly equivalent would be: "It seems like it is my victory in this game as well" Except for the fact the pronoun used to attribute "mine" ...
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1answer
229 views

Did 'lawyer' have a broader meaning in Shakespeare's time?

In Act 4, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2, Dick the butcher, one of Jack Cade's rebels, shouts: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. The rebels bring in the clerk of ...
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3answers
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Appearances and usage of “believe on” instead of “believe in.”

I am curious as to how much "believe on" has been preferred in over "believe in," and how much it has appeared in writing and manuscripts. I know the King James Bible uses it in only two books of its ...
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1answer
118 views

What is the meaning of “yea, marie”?

The preface to John Calvin's Sermons on Deuteronomy says this: For sufficient proofe whereof, and to the end it should not be thought that we do wrongfully & without cause giue inkling of the ...
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1answer
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What is the meaning of “Apcie”?

On John Calvin's Sermons on Deuteronomy, he says: "Not that god bringeth in any newe thing here: but for that he blameth the people for their foresaid lewdness, shewing that his doctrine had ben ...
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1answer
224 views

Is “Be ye…” subjunctive or imperative?

In Early Modern English, the second person plural (singular) declensions were: Nominative: - Ye (Thou) Oblique: - You (Thee) --and-- Genitive: Your (Thy & Thine) & Yours' (...
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Does Early Modern English Have Ablative Case? [closed]

I was thinking the other day, and a phrase popped into my mind that sounds as if I have heard it before, and I quickly realized it is not grammatically correct {on the surface.} It is: "Get thee mee ...
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2answers
565 views

In Early Modern English, is “beest” subjunctive or dialectal?

I am looking for better ways to translate between German and English, and I prefer Early Modern Engliſh, as a mode of speech, but mainly in written form, and I found out the other day that the ...
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4answers
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Does “goodly” in this sentence in Hamlet mean “considerable” or "pleasing?

In Hamlet there is the following conversation: GUILDENSTERN: Prison, my lord! HAMLET: Denmark's a prison. ROSENCRANTZ: Then is the world one. HAMLET: A goodly one; in which there are ...
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2answers
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What's up with the -es/-eth inconsistency in “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”?

This hymn was written more than a century ago, back when more people were aware of how Early Modern English arranged its conjugations. But in the second verse, there appears to be an inconsistency ...
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1answer
705 views

Meaning of “He is a fool that lovers prove”

I struggle to understand the meaning of the song "Though Philomela lost her love" by Thomas Morley. The song was published in 1602. The lyric is: Though Philomela lost her love, fresh note she ...
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2answers
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What does the word “wind” mean in this John Donne poem?

“Go and Catch a Falling Star”, by John Donne Go and catch a falling star,         Get with child a mandrake root, Tell me where all past years are,         Or who cleft the devil's foot, Teach me to ...
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6answers
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“Fool” meaning “baby”

The word is "fool." The OED has been no help on this, but my copy of Hamlet makes reference to its having the meaning "baby" so when Polonius says "You'll tender me a fool" he is cautioning Ophelia ...
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1answer
145 views

“I no whitt reck”: Understanding this archaic line from Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene

In this stanza from Edmund Spenser's 'Faerie Queene', I'm not sure what 'I no whitt reck' means, would appreciate any clarification. ‘O! but I feare the fickle freakes,’ quoth shee, ‘Of Fortune ...
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1answer
650 views

What is the meaning of 'wottest'?

I am interested in early versions of English, and while reading I've often encountered the word wottest being used. For example: Then he said, "Galahad, son, wottest thou what I hold between my ...
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1answer
326 views

What does the translator mean in English in this translation of a verse by the Urdu poet Ghalib? [closed]

Here is the translation of a verse by Ghalib [1797–1869], originally written1 in the Urdu language: Neither Asad besought cruelty, nor was thy tyranny fond of the insanity; to whatever extent ...
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2answers
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If “thy” is an informal pronoun, then why does The Lord's Prayer use it to refer to God? [duplicate]

The commonly used version of this Christian prayer comes from the King James Bible 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come,...
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4answers
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Word for a person who is always lying? [duplicate]

What is the most suitable word for a person who doesn't feel shame in telling a lie? Or is always lying? Is 'Proud Liar' a good word?
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2answers
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Is Shakespeare's Double Negative Grammatically Wrong?

In Act I Scene I of The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare's character Salarino uses a double negative in the phrase Not in love neither?, is this grammatically wrong or was this acceptable at the time? [...
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2answers
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On THE other hand or on another hand?

I'm editing a manuscript which takes place in 1854 Britain. I've run across two uses of "on another hand" used in place of "on the other hand." Is this proper vernacular for the era or should I edit ...
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1answer
115 views

Does the word “spicy” predate the Columbian exchange, and if so, in which ways was it used?

Europe did not have any kind of capsicum or chili pepper before the Columbian exchange of the 15th and 16th centuries. These days many people feel that the word "spicy" only describes the kind of "...
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1answer
412 views

What were Red Admiral and White Admiral butterflies called before 1627?

The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and White Admiral (Limenitis camilla) butterfly species cannot have had those common names before 1627, when the English Navy (the predecessor of the Royal Navy) was ...
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0answers
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Is “to say” in Hamlet's “and by a sleep to say we end” an infinitive or an adverb?

I was trying to identify the word classes of Hamlet's famous monologue "To be or not to be", and I'm really having trouble deciding what word class "to say" in "and by sleep to say we end the ...
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1answer
905 views

Do vs Dost, the difference [closed]

"Thou coward knight, why wilt thou not do battle with me?" -The Age of Chivalry, Chapter 16 In this sentence, why is do not dost? Very commonly do I see the word dost be used in older text in place ...
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1answer
2k views

What was “static electricity” known as before the discovery of electricity?

People must have dealt with static electrical discharge for thousands of years; well before they began to understand the principles of electricity. What would a static discharge be called in early ...