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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Was to + perfect infinitive

1.They were to have met in London last year but John hadn't had the money to go. 2.They were to have met in London last year but John didn't have the money to go. Which of these sentences is correct?
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Words to words or word for word or words by words. which one is correct between them? [closed]

Words to words or word for word or words by words. which one is correct between them?
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1answer
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The Auxiliary “Be” in the King James Bible

The King James Bible has Job 30:2 as “Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?” which I understood to mean, “What use are their hands to me, men whose ...
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48 views

17th century vs modern english grammar

First of all English is not my native language so I apologize if the question seems somewhat simple. Reading through A Complete Collection of State-Trials, and Proceedings upon High-Treason, and ...
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What is a yard of (pudding, ale, etc.)?

I was just reading William and Ceil Baring-Gould's sadly under-Annotated Mother Goose, in which rhyme #274 is: Hyer iddle diddle dell, A yard of pudding's not an ell; Not forgotten, tweedle-dye, A ...
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What did they use in Old English or Middle English before 'of course'?

I'm writing a story that heavily uses archaic or unusual English words, with a focus of non-Latin, non-French and non-Anglo-Norman derived words and how English might work without them. I found very ...
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Did the word “Crocodile” have a dreadful connotation in London 1600s?

I am writing a period-piece play based in London circa 1660s and wrote a poetic line that alludes to the crocodile as a "fearsome foe" or of much "danger and dread". I examined every mention of the ...
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What does Meric Casaubon mean?

The below quote is from Book X, Verse 3 of Meric Casaubon's translation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations : But remember, that whatsoever by the strength of opinion, grounded upon a certain ...
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What is Middle English for 'Hello'?

I'm writing a text that includes Death personified (e.g., "The Seventh Seal" - Bergman; Doktor Faustus - Mann) He speaks in early modern English from the time of Chaucer. I'd like to know how he would ...
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What does “were this away” mean in this context?

I'm reading a description of the pyramids written by George Sandys (1577 - 1644). The paragraph reads: The top at length we ascended with many pauses and much difficulty; from whence with ...
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Can I say that sentence makes you special?

When someone comes from other country and they pronounce "good morning" in my local language (when that pronunciation is unique)... Then can I say: "that sentence makes you special" Or "that ...
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Has the verb “to import me” ever been commonly used in English the way “to concern me” is in the phrase “It does not concern me”?

In various Euro­pean lan­guages, most es­pe­cially in the Ro­mance ones, their own re­spec­tive cog­nates for our Latin-de­rived word im­port can be used as a verb in much the way as the verb con­cern ...
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What's the proper antique equivalent to “Don't you dare”? [closed]

What's the proper antique (using "thee") equivalent to "Don't you dare"? Dare thee not? Dare not thee? Something else?
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1answer
202 views

thyself = yourself, what is the equivalent of *others*?

Is there a Shakespeare style of saying others? Example: Know yourself, know others Know thyself, know ____ By others I mean other people in general. Could be an intended group but not enemy.
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Translating old charm to modern language

About six or seven years ago, Chattox did fall out with one Hugh Moore of Pendle, as aforesaid, about certain cattle of Moore's, which Moore did charge Chattox to have bewitched: for which Chattox ...
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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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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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…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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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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“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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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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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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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 ...
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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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1answer
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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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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
115 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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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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685 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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897 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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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
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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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654 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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'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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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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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 ...