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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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4
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2answers
165 views

Why is ‘Earth’ often spelt with a lowercase e, even when referring to the planet?

The word earth has several meanings; the most central one is ‘soil, dirt’, that thing we walk on when we’re outside. It’s also used as a name for the planet we live on. The Lexico definition for this ...
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0answers
37 views

Why “him” in “For neuer resting time leads Summer on / To hidious winter and confounds him there, …” instead of it or her?

There is a passage in William's V sonnet that confounds me : For neuer resting time leads Summer on, To hidious winter and confounds him there, Sap checkt with frost and lustie leau's quite gon. ...
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4answers
2k views

…down the primrose path

What is the origin of primrose used in the idiom primrose path, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary? primrose path The pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring ...
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2answers
103 views

History of Neither Nor - Negative Meaning with Negative Verb Structure

I know that neither–nor yields a negative meaning if used in a sentence that has a positive verb structure. That is, when we say: Neither George nor James goes to school. we mean: George does ...
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1answer
70 views

“in like manner” v. “in the like manner”

1."in like manner" or 2."in the like manner" I thought that the latter is correct, but more digging points to the former. In Leviathan,of Hobbes, in like manner is used twenty five times, whereas ...
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1answer
200 views

Why do some early modern English writers use an apostrophe in art (ar't)?

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 "...
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2answers
143 views

Articles before “covenant”?

As I was going through Leviathan I realized that in some places Hobbes left an article before covenant, despite not placing the word in quotation marks: 1. "God is King of all the Earth by his Power: ...
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3answers
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What is the olden name for sideburns?

Upon search, I found out that sideburns has evolved from burnsides, named after the Civil War veteran and Rhode Island senator Ambrose Burnside. See here But surely sideburns existed before him, so ...
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42 views

Why there is no article before “heire”? [duplicate]

The following passage is from All's Well That Ends Well: Shee is young, wise, faire, In these, to Nature shee's immediate heire: And these breed honour: According to the research I did on Cambridge ...
5
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1answer
2k views

What is an “aglet-baby” exactly?

This is a line from the Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare Grumio [to Hortensio]: Marry him to a puppet or an aglet-baby . . . Although 'aglet' is an extremely uncommon word, its meaning can ...
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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. ...
5
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1answer
138 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
371 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
61 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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How was “ben't” used, and when did it cease to be used?

In Jane Austen's The Watsons, the maid of the titular family utters the following sentence: "Please, ma'am, master wants to know why he ben't to have his dinner?" I have never encountered ben't ...
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1answer
98 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
862 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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582 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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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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3answers
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What is the grammatical construction in “Be but sworn”?

I have found several questions asking for the meaning, but the thing that troubles me here is the grammar actually and i haven't found anything on that. In Shakespeare's sentence "Deny thy father ...
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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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3answers
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What animal is a “weefil”?

What animal is depicted in this image labelled “weefil”?
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6answers
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What is the difference between “thee” and “thou”?

What is the difference between thee and thou and how are they used?
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3answers
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Recent trends in English grammar

A lot of questions have been dedicated to how the evolution of English got many constructs of the old either fall out of use, merge, or evolve into different forms but still with 1:1 relation to ...
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During what period of history did English use “ß”, the “sharp s” ligature?

The ß glyph is a lowercase letter than represents a ligature between a long s and a round s, and is still used today in (some versions of) German. Its uppercase equivalent is two characters instead ...
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2answers
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Rhyming conventions of Early Modern English

I was reading the poem "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell when something struck me as odd. Let me quote two passages: Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide Of ...
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2answers
577 views

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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2answers
416 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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2answers
530 views

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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1answer
133 views

Childhood, English(England) rhymes are so disappointing,why? [closed]

When I was a kid, I was taught these poems: Georgie porgie Humpty Dumpty I know Humpty Dumpty was actually a canon, but still it was taught as Egg twins. So only take it on context of rhyme. Piggy ...
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1answer
147 views

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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69 views

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
231 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 ...
3
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1answer
298 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
154 views

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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2answers
932 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 ...
89
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4answers
13k views

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
201 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
91 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
375 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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2answers
232 views

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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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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3answers
103 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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3answers
2k views

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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4answers
643 views

Where can I find a modern English version of King James’s “Counterblaste to Tobacco”?

I find A Counterblaste to Tobacco by James I very interesting. Many people are under the impression that anti-tobacco sentiment began in the last century, and this document pretty thoroughly refutes ...
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1answer
368 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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2answers
12k views

How do you conjugate Early Modern English verbs (other than present tense)?

I was wondering how one might conjugate verbs in early modern English in various tenses. I am aware of the fact that for second person and third person singular specifically, the verb endings are -est ...
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6answers
46k views

Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries

It seems to have been common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain to capitalise the first letters of nouns in English, e.g. At which Time he prov'd himself the Noah's Dove, that ...
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0answers
46 views

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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5answers
6k views

Why “the powers that be”?

In the phrase "the powers that be," as in the sentence: It would never have occurred to the powers that be to run and supervise the National Lottery from anywhere but London. (Oxford ...