Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Removed the bit about Bill Bailey's "Middle English" joke. I finally found it ( and while it is reasonably proper, it is not Middle English. It's English that rhymes and has had letters doubled with a silent E at the end. Oh, and there are eths, and -ry has been replaced with -rie. Bonus points for "wenten," but here's an example of "wenten" actually used in Middle English:

Nick Messenger: Hee-hee ha-HAH-hahaha! Lord, I haven't laughed that hard in a while! The title is priceless.

RedBeardSean: There are people here in Indiana, US, who use the word "wenten" even today. ...and they wonder why Americans who are not Indiana natives consider "Hoosier" to be right up there with "Oakey" and "Hick."

Looney Toons: <shrug> My mother-in-law is a German immigrant, and even though she knows better, my wife (born and raised in New Jersey) will sometimes unconsciously use Germanic conjugations on English words, resulting in speech that sounds suspiciously Amish... "wenten" isn't one she ever did, but it's not unlike the things she has said.

Joe: The ye in "ye olde englishe" derives from the appearance of the edh (), used to represent the voiced version of our modern "th" (e.g. this, that), and thorn was used for the unvoiced version (think, thin, thorn). actually a y looks a lot more like an edh than a thorn.
  • Dark Sasami: Just for the record, no, it really is from . Icelandic uses eth for voiced and thorn for unvoiced, but English, as were her wanton wont, was never so picky. If you study the pictures of various thorns (especially the crossed "thou" abbreviation) at the Wikipedia page, you'll see how you get to "y" from it (mostly from the tongue pushing way up and getting thin at the top).

Thomas the Rhymer: I'm wondering how far back this trope goes... The written forms of Homer's Odyssey and Iliad are in a mixed-up archaic dialect which we call Epic Greek, and presumably was the High Fantasy type language of the time/place. The earliest English example I know is Robin Hood's grave (which is near where I live), faked in the 1600s and made to look like middle English.

Licky Lindsay: "purfute of happiness" was used in Stan Freberg's comedy album "Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America, Volume One: The Early Years" in 1961.

The novel The Night Land is possibly the worst case of this in history. That's the entire novel, not just the dialog. The "Night Lands" anthologies could possibly be considered an Adaptation Distillation of it, even though they're technically fan fiction. —Document N

Jordan: Just a note on how long this trope goes back to, I forget if it was John Dryden or Alexander Pope, but one of them wrote a few poems in a pseudo-Chaucer style as a parody.

Your Obedient Serpent notes that this entry's examples are mostly examples of the kinds of errors one sees, with few or no examples of works guilty of abusing them. I was going to mention The Mighty Thor...
Looney Toons: Argh. That'll teach me to rely upon my memory. I would have sworn that the "where the bee sucks" line was from the "I am that merry wanderer of the night" passage in Midsummer Night's Dream, but no, Micah was right...
Vampire Buddha: I've put the description into Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. Does it work?

Dark Sasami: Okay, I went in prepared to hate this. Now I can't stop giggling. It's the word order that does it. Nicely done.

So It Begins: I seeth what thou didst there.

George TSLC: Vampire Buddha, it does NOT work for me; the joke goes on WAAAYYYY to long! I'd really like to see the FIRST paragraph done that way, but the rest in as good an imitation of the King James Bible's English as we can manage among us. Failing that, I'd go for Olde Butchered in the first 'graf and straight modern English for the rest.

Whadday'all think?

Fast Eddie: I kind of agree that joke goes on a little too long. Dropping it after the first 'graph with a relieved remark would punch it up and make a little nicer balance between fun and fact. //Afterthought: Perhaps a link out to a "translation" of the entire thing into "Ye Olde..." would work.

Dark Sasami: I'm very much in favor of correcting the KJV English in all but the first paragraph, myself. I'm not sure, however, who can be trusted to do it...

Prfnoff: I dropped the Self-Demonstrating Article business halfway through the second paragraph, before it became an Overused Running Gag. I also cut this section:
Clear to maketh it: Old English doth be the language Anglo-Saxons spoke (which soundeth like Icelandic, and be not comprehensible to speakers of English), Middle English is Chaucer (soundeth peculiar, but can be just about understoodeth if readeth slowlie) and Early Modern English doth be Shakespeare (fairly easie to understandeth if thou hast attended grammar school).
A final note: 'thou' and variations thereof wert informal, for nigh on two centuries. Thou shouldst not use them to a superior an the War of the Roses hath begun.
Right? Hast thou got it now? Great.
Most of it is easy to translate, except for the last sentence of the second paragraph. The other reason is that the definition of early Modern English as Shakespeare is straight out of Small Reference Pools: Shakespeare's use of English was hardly typical of his time, and not comparatively easy for modern readers to understand. (What is easier to understand is Malory's Morte d'Arthur, even though its language is often considered to be Middle English.)

CA Lieber: The left-hand pages of my edition of Beowulf look far more like Icelandic than German. I've made the change, but I'm hoping someone tempted to change it back will read this and at least understand my reasoning, even if they disagree.

Heroic Jay: Why does the page have a section for "Parodies, Subversions, etc." when half the "parody" examples are straight uses??