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Questions tagged [archaic-language]

For questions about old words and phrases which are usually no longer used in spoken or written language. They are still found sometimes in English which is supposed to sound old-fashioned. This includes both archaic vocabulary (damsel and yon) and archaic grammar (Be not afraid!).

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Dost thou not draw it [closed]

I have always been interested in the archaic grammar. Recently I've decided to learn a bit more about it and find out how to conjugate the verbs to use it sometimes in the every day English just for ...
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2answers
38 views

Thee Thou Thine Thy

Do all native speakers know the words Thee Thou Thine Thy ? And all other forms of creating the sentences in the archaic manner? I mean all these phrases and grammar aren't used by anyone now but ...
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1answer
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Meaning of the word can in this sentence

I am reading Clarissa by Samuel Richardson and I am not sure that I have understood a sentence correctly. Thank you very much in advance for your help. Lovelace tells Clarissa that in the midst of his ...
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1answer
41 views

Is using “would” instead of “want” grammatical? “I would we leave here…”

I have been seeing this use of would in a book I am reading. Although I understand the meaning I don't understand the grammar. Is it the correct use of would? Here is an example of it: "I would we ...
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1answer
29 views

Does “not a few” always mean “a lot of”?

This excerpt come from Landmarks of English Literature by H. J. Nicoll: It is not to the credit of England that the only full survey of its literature possessing any high merit from a purely ...
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1answer
104 views

in which (year) and in which (city)

Are "year" and "city" optional in the following? John returned to London in 2010, in which (year) he married Joanne. John returned to London, in which (city) he married Joanne. I'd ...
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4answers
60 views

What does “thee thine” mean?

But we awaited thee every morning, took from thee thine overflow and blessed thee for it. Found this in Thomas Common's 1909 translation of Friedrich Nietzche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and I was ...
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1answer
54 views

Meaning of “a Richard Snary” / “a Given Name” [closed]

An old joke I found in Mark Forsyth's "The Etymologicon", originally mentioned in the OED A country lad, having been reproved for calling persons by their Christian names, being sent by his master ...
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1answer
36 views

Meaning of 'survey' in this context?

Can the word view be a good synonym for survey in the following context? A man does right, as a rule, to have his thoughts more occupied with the interests of his own nation than with those of ...
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186 views

Dialogue consisting of questions and answers?

Is there a specific word for a dialogue between two characters in a play or novel, where that dialogue only consists of questions and answers?
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1answer
67 views

Meaning of the phrase “please someone unto something”?

I have come across it in Crash Course World History. It is at 5 minute and 39 second. Here it goes: The thinking was that if humans did their jobs, then the pantheon of gods would maintain cosmic ...
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1answer
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Can native English people comprehend “A Tale of Two Cities” without much effort?

I am not a native English speaker. Recently I tried to read "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. I gave up soon because I was not able to comprehend that book! I even tried to read the summary ...
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What is “They Are Wont To Ascribe To Each”?

Whenever men notice some similarity between two things, they are wont to ascribe to each, even in those respects in which the two differ, what they have found to be true of the other. My Attempt ...
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1answer
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Was there a specific way to ask the time in the era of the Grandfather Clock , the late 1900's [closed]

My husband says he remembers hearing the phrase "I heard the time drop" in relation to a Grandfather Clock so this would have been used some time around the end of the 1900's I think. Please help me ...
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3answers
349 views

What does “never” mean here?

From Genesis 34:12 - Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife. (KJV) Make the price for the bride and the gift ...
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“I immediately got her with child”?

In th English translation of The Kindly Ones, a 2006 novel by Jonathan Littell set during World War II and its aftermath, the narrator states: the source I picked a woman from a good family; she ...
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2answers
654 views

What does “it” refer to in this excerpt of an old English text?

I am really getting a hard time in understanding the nuances of this text. I am not able to understand what is being referred to in the 'it' parts of this excerpt. It goes like this 'I propose to ...
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4answers
4k views

What does the author mean by “What did he there?”

I'm reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein written in 19th century. I'm not sure whether the sentence I just encountered (bold text below) is a misprint or an example of archaic English and I'm trying to ...
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2answers
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“Duress” in the (archaic) sense of “Forcible restraint or imprisonment.”

I'm currently trying to figure out the exact meaning of the word duress in the sense forcible restraint or imprisonment. The Oxford Dictionary tells me that this meaning of the word is archaic. I've ...
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2answers
184 views

What's the meaning of “what a deal of money it brought in change”?

Dick had heard that the streets in London were all paved with gold. So Dick got safe to London, and was in such a hurry to see the fine street paved all over with gold that he did not even stay ...
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1answer
172 views

Does “Believest thou this?” mean “Do you believe this?”?

Does "Believest Thou This?" mean "Do you (singular) believe this?" ? I want to know whether a native English speaker, when he sees a title like "Believest Thou This?", immediately realizes it means "...
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1answer
52 views

All disease begins in the gut

A quote attributed to Hippocrates himself, and translated into English many years ago. However, is this correct English? "all" seems to be referring to a plural, "disease" however is singular. Is ...
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298 views

Verb form of “must needs”

Then touching the shoulder of a townsman who stood near to him, he addressed him in a formal and courteous manner: "I pray you, good Sir," said he, "who is this woman? -- and wherefore is she ...
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227 views

What's the point in using “me thinks” and other like phrases in writing and speech? (SOLVED!)

In one of his comments, a reputable member of the ELL community, a native English speaker, finished his thought with a phrase "me dodges brickbat". This reminded me of the phrase "me thinks", which ...
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4answers
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Meaning of “the bents were jealous else” in Browning's Childe Roland

From Browning's Childe Roland: If there push’d any ragged thistle-stalk Above its mates, the head was chopp’d; the bents Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents In the dock’s ...
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3answers
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What is a meaning of this William Shakespeare's quote?

My problem is understanding of following quote: "There were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting ...
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1answer
3k views

Hath or has? Which one is better to use

Here I am aware of it, but I am not getting it. The sea hath/has many thousand sands. Hath and has both seem to be same meaning. Which one is better to use? Shall I use hath or has?
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Why is 'were' used here instead of 'was'?

In Herodotus 3.81 : Megabyzus spoke next, and advised the setting up of an oligarchy:- "In all that Otanes has said to persuade you to put down monarchy," he observed, "I fully concur; but his ...
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1answer
730 views

'Something is arrived' - is this use of a participle as an adjective acceptable?

As I know, intransitive verb can't be used in passive voice. Arrive is an intransitive verb. I wonder if "be +arrived" is still understandable and available? Something will be arriving tomorrow. (...
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1answer
862 views

Meaning of “little more o’er the merry-o”

In the lyrics of a song, the text goes swing a little more, little more o’er the merry-o I know the proverb "the more the merrier", but o'er is apparently an archaic form of over, which confuses ...
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1answer
2k views

what does yonge mean?

"a proud and very profane yonge man." This quote is from here. What does yonge mean in this context? A search to the dictionary came up with: Charlotte M(ary). 1823–1901, British novelist, whose ...
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1answer
119 views

The meaning of “unweighty trifle” from “The Prince and the Pauper”

This is an extract taken from chapter VI, of Mark Twain's book "The Prince and the Pauper". I just can't understand the meaning of "unweighty trifle." "I am full loth to word the thing that is in ...
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1answer
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What does it mean 'to have fame in' or 'to be famed in' God?

Source: Historia Anglorum [...], by Henry of Huntingdon, edited by Diana E. Greenway [p 496, online English translation:] Tell me, I pray, what gain has it been to us to have been great or famous? ...
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1answer
366 views

meaning of “That old Artaxerxes evening had never done ringing in my fancy”

The following is a part of the SAT sample questions (questions 5-8 of Passage-Based Reading section) After the intervention of six or seven years I again entered the doors of a theater. That old ...
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1answer
161 views

What is this grammar concept?

The time was the beginning of the morning, And up the sun was mounting with those stars That with him were, what time the Love Divine At first in motion set those beauteous things... Dante (...
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7k views

When can I use “thy” instead of “your”?

I have never heard anybody using it, I only came across the word in the title of the movie Honor Thy Mother
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4answers
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Want to understand “the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a daughter” further

In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “Her royal highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a daughter at 8.34am. The baby weighs 8lbs 3oz. This usage is quite strange to me though ...
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3answers
153 views

Antecedent of 'whose' in 'to whose extent'? (1834 UK)

Source: p 377, A Treatise on Astronomy, by Sir John F. W. Herschel ... But between that remotest orb and the nearest star there is a gulf fixed, to whose extent no observations yet made have ...
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1answer
194 views

Informal spoken English: I shall wait you in the garden, five o'clock

Is the sentence in the title, "I shall wait you in the garden, five o'clock," grammatical, even though it might be archaic?
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How can I ask “What's up” in aristocratic style?

I need to write a letter in an old manner. I suppose like the beginning of the 19th century. So what was the regular phrase to get a news?
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2answers
290 views

Help parsing excerpt from Shakespeare's comedy “Love's Labour's Lost”

I have begun trying to read Shakespeare. My problem is I can't understand the writing at all. Why is Shakespeare so hard to understand? I hope that I am not the only one that finds it hard to read. ...
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1answer
104 views

Declines Vs Declineth

Declines Vs Declineth Somewhere I read that "decline" is just third person , but "declineth" is indicative . Could you help me explain the difference of indicative with some examples so that I ...
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1answer
764 views

appear + noun vs appear as + noun

Are they both right? What are the similarities and differences? Also, what's this phenomenon called? I exemplify with design as the noun, but please feel free to cite better examples. Source: p 116, ...
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1answer
250 views

Is “Whore” archaic in Australian English?

Is the term "Whore", either to mean someone who is promiscuous, or someone who is a sex worker, archaic in Australian English? When I see the word "Whore", I tend to think of Shakespeare (along with ...
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1answer
50 views

an eternal verity “which, attending,” has planted

Forth from the age-yellowed pages (of the book) there leapt an eternal verity; which, attending, has planted new seeds of wisdom in the soil of my mind. (an internal meditation on the Holy Bible 1890)
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Is this combination “which nor” correct? [closed]

I found the following in a poem by Matthew Prior (1664-1721): In every act and turn of life he feels Public calamities, or household ills : The due reward to just desert refus'd : The trust ...
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“There need none. . .” in modern usage

There need none to be blamed. Source: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act 5, Scene 1) Is this still possible in modern English? For example: “There dared none to protest against him.” Is this a version ...
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570 views

What does “a thrum of my love” mean in this poem?

Dost thou me hate? Speak but so!/ Your sweet speech shall mine ears coax/ into a sweet slumber./Better to sleep than else in this plight./ At least as a thrum of thy love, I shall cling to thee./ (...
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What have we done that you should be so angry with us? - “that” clause of result?

Can "that" introduce an adverbial clause of result? Do the following sentences sound natural to you? 1a: What have we done that you should be so angry with us? 1b: “Are you starving that you must ...
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1answer
119 views

Use of whereinsoever

Searching for the definition of wherein, i found the word whereinsoever. I have however not found any clear definition and example of its use, could someome explain it to me ?