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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3
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2answers
3k views

Which was the first dictionary and how was it decided which words went into it?

I've heard the riddle: "If Websters' was the first dictionary where did he get all the words from?" It has quite since intrigued me, honestly. Which was the first English language dictionary and how ...
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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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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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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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4answers
768 views

Meaning of Early Modern English “iuie”

I found this phrase in Featherstone's Dedication at the front of an English translation of the Commentary on John by John Calvin: It is an old saying, (Right Honorable,) and no lesse true then olde,...
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2answers
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“I must to England” in Hamlet: What does “must” mean without an infinitive?

What did "must" mean when used as a non-modal verb (sorry, I don't know the technical term) in Early Modern English? For example: I must to England; you know that? (Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV)
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2answers
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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
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Word contractions in Shakespeare's plays

In Shakespeare's plays it is common to find contracted words, such as "o'er", "e'en", "sulph'uous", "ta'en". Is it just a literary device or those words were actually pronounced (in day-to-day speech) ...
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4answers
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Are English language books translated to contemporary English? [closed]

Were Shakespeare books translated to contemporary English? Which version is more common? Is there a rule to choose which books will have its language updated? Are poems updated too? From which year I ...
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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 ...
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3answers
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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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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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4answers
256 views

“To” versus “with” in early English

I've been reading John Donne's Song (Go And Catch A Falling Star) and my query is on the usage of to in the line "to two or three." Yet she Will be False, ere I come, to two or three. I ...
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Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
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6answers
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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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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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Is it ever effective to use modern and archaic grammar together?

A manuscript I'm currently editing has brought up a new (to me) problem - There's a character who speaks in archaic forms ("thee" and "thou", essentially). I've noted to the writer that this is coming ...
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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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Meaning of “owedst”

...Not poppy, nor mandragora, Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep Which thou owedst yesterday. — Shakespeare, Othello III.iii I really ...
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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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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?