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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52
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6answers
45k 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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3answers
7k views

How and why have some words changed to a complete opposite?

One example that comes to mind is terrific which originally denoted something quite terrorising while now it has positive connotations... How and why did these changes occur?
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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?
72
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5answers
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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 ...
59
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3answers
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What animal is a “weefil”?

What animal is depicted in this image labelled “weefil”?
12
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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 ...
27
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8answers
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What does “thy” mean?

I read a sentence containing the word thy, but I cannot find the meaning of that word. Is it older English, or is it still used in contemporary English today?
43
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1answer
70k views

How obsolete is the word “overmorrow”?

I stumbled over the word overmorrow and wanted to know whether it is in use. So I used Googles Ngram Viewer and wondered why it has not found a single reference. Was overmorrow only used one time in ...
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2answers
1k views

Why did the old pronouns and their respective endings vanish from daily usage?

If I’m not wrong, the verb conjugation in the past used to be: I have we have thou hast ye have he/she/it hath they have This conjugation is closer to its equivalent in the ...
12
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5answers
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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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4answers
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Why did the KJV use “thou” toward God?

The word "thou" (and similar variations of the Latin tu in other languages) was used between people for informal speech, and talking to people of lower standing. So why did people use it (most ...
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5answers
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Shouldn’t “art” be “is” in “Our Father who art in heaven”?

The Lord’s Prayer begins in English: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Shouldn’t it be who is there, not who art? ...
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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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2answers
617 views

Odd possessive form of a proper name: Why does Dryden write “Lord Nonsuch his” instead of “Lord Nonsuch’s” but “Bibber’s” instead of “Bibber his”?

While researching a question posed on EL&U, I came across this list of the characters in John Dryden’s The Wild Gallant (1663), from a 1735 collection of Dryden’s works: DRAMATIS PERSONAE. ...
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3answers
286 views

In EModE should 'may' become 'mayest' when expressing a wish

I'm translating a text from Sanskrit, which has a singular/plural (and, actually, dual) distinction in the second person. It has long been the custom in English translation to render the 2nd singular ...
5
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4answers
639 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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Explanation of a sentence in “Adam lay ybounden”

In the carol "Adam lay ybounden", there's a line that goes: As clerkes finden, written in their book Is "finden" the infinitive form of "find"? I thought it should be "found" or maybe "would ...
5
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2answers
713 views

How/When did English transform to the modern version we use today? [closed]

I know that a language evolves with time and constantly keeps itself up to people's needs. But when I read a bible or a poem of Shakespeare, I can see English was very different by then with sentences ...
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7answers
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Pronunciation of “zounds?”

I came across the sentence "Fortunately their are a variety of different offerings out there with zounds of features." Disregarding the misuse of "zounds," how would Elizabeth I have pronounced the ...
3
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5answers
167 views

No direct object in 'give thee faithfully to follow' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington)

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington If the Lord would show thee but this one thing, -- that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper ...
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2answers
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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 ...
27
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3answers
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What were nightmares called before “nightmare” was used in that sense?

Apparently the word "nightmare" has only been used in the sense of "bad dream" since c. 1829. Before then the term referred to the agent causing the dreams—a mare < mera, mære 'goblin, ...
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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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2answers
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English Typography in the 17th Century

I was browsing through some very old English texts when I came across this page from The memoires of Sir James Melvil of Hal-hill, by George Scot (1683). The first thing that struck me was the anatomy ...
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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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3answers
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Does “'tis” means “this is” or “it is”?

I have found much trouble identifying the old word 'tis. Does it mean "this is" or "it is?" I have done some research and found that the dictionaries conflict. One said 'tis :An old English word ...
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5answers
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Differences between dialects

I'm Italian and I'm trying to improve my English, but I have some difficulty speaking with and understanding people of different countries. For example when I study English in books it seems to be ...
4
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1answer
231 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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4answers
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Archaic text suggestions

I'm interested in learning Archaic English. As a starting point, I guess simple texts that are easy to comprehend would be a good choice. I would appreciate any suggestions.
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2answers
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When did Indo-European descendants stop speaking Old English? What were the influencing factors in the shift from Old English to Modern English? [closed]

There is Old English, and there is the English we speak now. When did exactly did the British (or Americans) change from speaking Old English to speaking the current form of English?
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1answer
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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
1k views

Where is the root morpheme in Modern English abortion?

The question is not so easy as it seems. Let's analyze some derivatives: abortion, abortive, abortiveness, abortionist. The analysis of derivational suffixes (-ion, -ive, ive+ness etc.) helps to ...
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1answer
336 views

Noun verbs a-gerunding - the meaning of the “a-gerund” form?

The first time I saw this antiquated form was in Steeleye Span's interpretation of The Elf Knight ballad, but I tend to see it now and then and I don't quite know how it is used. Lady Isabel sits ...
2
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3answers
534 views

Figurative meaning of 'suit' - 1615 UK?

Source: p 105, The Law of Contract, 5 ed (2012), by O’Sullivan and Hilliard It is encapsulated in the difficult seventeenth-century language of Lampleigh v Braithwait (1615): A mere ...
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1answer
112 views

Grammaticality - 'what care I then for the Ridicule' (1778 November, US)

Original Source. Google Source: p 169, The Portable John Adams, by John Adams AA to JA [Braintree, 12-23 November 1778] In vain do I strive to through of [throw off] in the company of my ...
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1answer
157 views

Archaic meaning of 'procure' - 1615 UK

Source: p 105, The Law of Contract, 5 ed (2012), by O’Sullivan and Hilliard It is encapsulated in the difficult seventeenth-century language of Lampleigh v Braithwait (1615): A mere ...