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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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"Ill" word meaning in 17th century 1608

I'm writing a script set in 1608 in British English from the 17th century. I want to know the exact meaning that the word "ill" had at that time? We appear just as ill. (We look just as ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
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97 views

Perchance and Mayhap

I'm writing a screenplay set in England 17th century 1608. Which was more common "Mayhap" or "Perchance". The meaning is "maybe". Ex: Perchance/Mayhap we will live a long ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
85 views

"Hence" Multiple usages in Old English

I´m writing a script using 1608 17th century british english language. I would like to know if the meaning of hence can be used as follows. Hence, he needeth me. (For this reason, he needs me.) Get ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
125 views

Suffix -eth in 17th century

I am writing a screenplay set in England during the year 1608. I would like to know if I am using the -eth ending correctly. According to some sources this ending was only used with -t or -d endings, ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
-2 votes
4 answers
143 views

"Lamb" Use in Early British Modern English 17th-century 1608

I am writing a screenplay set in England in the year 1608. In one sentence I used the word lamb (a young sheep), but according to what I've seen on the internet this term is more of a modern English. ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
2k views

Was "coven" used as a term for a group of witches in 1608 or was another term in use?

I am writing a screenplay set in England in the year 1608. In one sentence I used the word coven (a group of witches), but according to Etymonline this word started to be used from 1660, or 52 years ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
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1 answer
72 views

"Kin" Use In Early British Modern English 17th century 1608 [duplicate]

I am writing a screenplay set in England in the 17th century during the year 1608. I need to know if the use of "kin" (a family) is appropriate in this context. I know that this word did ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
189 views

What's the difference in usage between "to" and "unto" in 17th century English?

I am writing a script in which all the characters speak early Modern English. I have learned a bit about Old English, but I am not an expert so I am also consulting multiple artificial intelligences, ...
Dylan Lozano's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
155 views

Is it possible that the word 'froward' in the KJV English is using the middle English definition of the word?

According to https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/froward - the following information was given for the word English word froward: "Once upon a time, in the days of Middle English, froward ...
Douglas's user avatar
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Of-genitive shift in modern English from objective to subjective: Ex. "Christian faith" as "faith of Christ" in old Bibles

In the 16th-19th century English, the "of" construct is clearly used for the objective, not possessive or subjective genitive, as seen from King James Bible and other versions like Geneva of ...
Michael16's user avatar
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Meaning of "our eares are converted into cates"

In Archie Armstrong's Banquet of Jests (1641 edition), there's an account of a punning clergyman: A DIVINE willing to play more with words than to be serious in the expounding of his Text, made his ...
Luke Sawczak's user avatar
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3 answers
144 views

What is the meaning of the phrase "conciliate the friendship of the Gods" in this text by Sir Isaac Newton?

I'm trying to understand this phrase that Sir Isaac Newton used in a passage of one of his writings called, "Irenicum, or Ecclesiastical Polyty tending to Peace." The phrase is: all men ...
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Is "ye" in the singular used with singular or plural verb conjugations?

I was writing some dialogue for a story and I wanted a character from the past to speak in an archaic/Early Modern English way, when I stumbled across this. In this instance, I'm using "ye" ...
Annatar's user avatar
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16 votes
4 answers
2k views

What does "make the Iacke go" mean?

The introduction to the first folio has the phrase "make the Iacke go." The I is almost certainly a J, but I don't recognise the word/name Jacke. What could it mean? The text is given here ...
Simd's user avatar
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Meaning of "bring them away" in Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure" (Act2, scene1)?

In act II, scene 1, of Measure for Measure, Elbow says: Elbow. Come, bring them away: if these be good people in a Common-weale, that doe nothing but vse their abuses in common houses, I know no law :...
John Smith's user avatar
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Meaning of "Bore many gentlemen" in Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure"? [closed]

In act I, scene 5, of Measure for Measure, Lucio says: Lucio. This is the point. The Duke is very strangely gone from hence; Bore many gentlemen (my selfe being one) In hand, and hope of action: but ...
John Smith's user avatar
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Of what chocolate-house does Swift write in "An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity"?

In An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity it is written: Another advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity is the clear gain of one day in seven, which is now entirely lost, and ...
John Smith's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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What is meant by "to take the offence" in Act I, scene 1 of "Two Noble Kinsmen"?

In act I, scene 1, of The Two Noble Kinsmen, the first queen says: 1. Queen. We are 3. Queenes, whose Soveraignes fel before The wrath of cruell Creon; who endured The Beakes of Ravens, Tallents of ...
John Smith's user avatar
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What does 'lay'd-on' mean in Camillo's speech (scene 3, act 5 of "The Winter's Tale")?

In act V, scene 3, of The Winter's Tale, Hermione says: Cam. My Lord, your Sorrow was too sore lay'd-on, Which sixteene Winters cannot blow away, So many Summers dry: scarce any Ioy Did euer so long ...
John Smith's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
2k views

Omitting "thou" after "hast" or "art" in questions (as in "Hast seen the White Whale?")

My understanding is that in standard modern English, an explicit grammatical subject is required in all sentences other than imperatives. However, I've come across across a few examples where the ...
Will Levine's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
671 views

What is meant by "the crotchet of the law" in chapter VIII of Milton's "The Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce"?

In book one, chapter VIII, of The Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce, it is written: Upon these principles I answer, that a right beleever ought to divorce an idolatrous heretick unlesse upon ...
John Smith's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
72 views

What does 'treasure is tickle' mean in Philotimus?

In Philotimus (1583), the following passage appears on page 38: Among all forts of conceyted fellowes, I reuerence the Esseni∣ans, as most cōtinent in pleasures, & contented wt nifles, for they ...
Heartspring's user avatar
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What do 'fain' and 'unfained' mean in this paragraph from Milton's "The Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce"?

In book one, chapter VI, of The Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce, it is written: Fourthly, Mariage is a cov’nant the very beeing wherof consists, not in a forc’t cohabitation, and counterfet ...
John Smith's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
2k views

"in the Hebrew it ..." vs "in Hebrew it ..." - what is the difference of meaning in this paragraph of Milton and in general?

In book one of The Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce, it is written: The cause of divorce mention’d in the Law is translated some uncleannesse, but in the Hebrew it sounds nakednes of ought, or ...
John Smith's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
169 views

What does "The by-gone-day proclaym'd" mean in scene ii, act I of The Winter's Tale?

In the second scene of The Winter's Tale, Hermione says: I had thought (Sir) to haue held my peace, vntill You had drawne Oathes from him, not to stay: you (Sir) Charge him too coldly. Tell him, you ...
John Smith's user avatar
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1 vote
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What does 'attorney' mean in this passage from The Winter's Tale

In The Winter's Tale, it is written: Cam. Sicilia cannot shew himselfe ouer-kind to Bohe- mia: They were trayn'd together in their Child-hoods; and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection, ...
John Smith's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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What was more frequent in Early Modern English: "How many a man who was ..." or "How many men who were ..."?

In A Plea for Captain John Brown, Thoreau writes: How many a man who was lately contemplating suicide has now something to live for! Phrases ... many countable-noun-in-plural ..., e.g. How many men ...
John Smith's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
128 views

What are 'herbycall verses'?

This line in Philotimus, specifically the word ‘herbycall’, has been perplexing me: Herewithall she yelded breath. Great mourninges were ex∣cited in euery corner, and wofull Philotimus swounding ...
Heartspring's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
143 views

What does this sentence from Philotimus mean?

I found the following passage from a work called Philotimus, which dates back to 1583. Though most of the language in the book is relatively understandable after a bit of squinting and rereading, this ...
Heartspring's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
199 views

Avoidance of double negation in early modern English? (Spenser's The Faerie Queene)

There's this very famous line in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (Book V, Canto II, Stanza 39) that reads For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought. I know that the interpretation ...
thaddad's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
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Excerpts from a poem: need help understanding poetic English

This is John Keats’s classic Petrarchan sonnet “To the Nile”, which was written two hundred years ago in a style more ancient still: Son of the old Moon-mountains African! Chief of the Pyramid and ...
Selfie groufie's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
111 views

Pronunciation of (King) Leir in Early Modern English

Shakespeare's King Lear may have used the anonymous play King Leir as a source. Lear is pronounced /lɪər/ in present-day English and I assume that Early Modern English used essentially the same ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
910 views

When is the old english letter Æ/æ modernised to A, E and AE?

The old english letter Æ/æ in various words have been modernised to either A (Æthelstan to Athelstan); E (Ælf to Elf, Æthelræd to Ethelred) and sometimes both A and E in the same word (Ælfræd to ...
asker2011's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
393 views

What did Gideon Harvey (late XVII century) mean by "juice of porcelain"?

In Morbus anglicus by Gideon Harvey (1666), one can find references to "juice of porcelain": among Herbs, Lettice, Endive, Succory, Sorrel, Porcelain, Chervil, &c. but note that they ...
aitap's user avatar
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-1 votes
3 answers
197 views

Can the possessive “my” be dropped before father/mother? [closed]

Imagine you are reading and/or watching some hoity-toity broad speak from the ye olde era. Would it be wrong for them to say: “Father would never allow for it!” Or: “What plagues mother now?” In ...
taropuff's user avatar
19 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is the use of "an" to mean "if" an invention of fantasy writers?

I've just read Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede, and the author has her characters speak in a vaguely Shakespearean manner, presumably to add atmosphere. In particular, her characters use ...
John Rennie's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
3k views

The history of “to see say” better known as “voir dire”

Fans of the American TV show, Law & Order, may be familiar with the procedure called voir dire, whereby lawyers interrogate would-be-members of the jury in order to select jurors who will be ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
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24 votes
3 answers
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In Early Modern English, are there examples of the "a- + gerund" progressive construction where the gerund begins with a vowel?

In Early Modern English, a progressive tense was sometimes constructed as in the example "I was a-hunting". But what happens if the verb begins with a vowel rather than a consonant? Would ...
Julian Newman's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
2k views

What's the archaic past tense for "say"?

And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and ...
Eddie Kal's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
425 views

Etymology of the word "erre" in English

I'm currently working on Bible translations and have stumbled accross the word "erre" in James (1: 2-18) of the King James Bible. To be more specific in verse 16: Doe not erre, my beloued ...
JavaApprentice's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
234 views

What is the "-sie" suffix meaning?

While playing Thief: The Dark Project, I noticed the use of the suffix "-sie" in some words, for example: woodsie, goodsie, treesie, etc. I struggled to find an explanation for this and ...
Rick Stanley's user avatar
-4 votes
1 answer
331 views

History of "literally": Who changed the definition of "literally" to no longer mean "figuratively" in the first place? [duplicate]

According to my research, "literally" used to mean "figuratively", or at least it was used by many people to mean "figuratively" several centuries ago. Yet, although ...
Steven Choi's user avatar
-3 votes
1 answer
160 views

Aren't English' "shoe" and French' "chaussure" related?

I was absolutely certain that shoe (en) and chaussure (fr) were cognates due to the obvious similarity between their first syllable, especially the pronunciation - that was until I looked them up on ...
d-b's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
182 views

Understanding Nehemiah 13:24 in the King James Bible

The King James Bible reads in Nehemiah 13:24: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. ...
Lasse Kliemann's user avatar
11 votes
4 answers
4k views

Can you correct this “old English” quote?

There’s an “influencer” that came across my page who posted a quote (attributed to themselves) and I know it’s wrong but I’m not informed enough to know how wrong it is. I’m not going to do anything ...
Tcbr129's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
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How authentic is the EModE in T. Nesbit's novel Beheld? [closed]

I checked out TaraShea Nesbit’s historical novel Beheld (Bloomsbury 2020) from my local library, after hearing an author interview about it on public radio. It is set in the New Plymouth colony in ...
Brian Donovan's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
344 views

What's an early modern English excalmation roughly meaning "raise the roof!"?

I am a translator of Russian historical fiction set in the early modern period (mid-late 16th century) and I am looking for some good period-specific English equivalents of the phrase "жги-говори!...
Maya's user avatar
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3 votes
4 answers
723 views

Meaning of “an” in Matthew (King James Version)

I'm having a little trouble parsing an in this context: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee ...
Robusto's user avatar
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0 answers
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How and why were different inflections applied to third-person singular verbs in the Early Modern period?

I can't get my head around why and how inflections were used in Early Modern English. I know that they were used to mark person, number and tense and so on but how and why exactly?
Nonie's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
690 views

Why is "from" used in "from henceforth"?

The dictionaries unanimously include the word from in their definitions of henceforth: e.g. M-W: from this point on Henceforth, supervisors will report directly to the manager. Cambridge: starting ...
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