[Ads-l] Offlist: Re: [ADS-L] "old boy" = the devil

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Thu Sep 22 13:08:25 EDT 2016


Did you mean this to go to the list?  It showed up both in my personal mailbox,
and in the ADS-l archive.  I'll send this to you only initially, just in case
you really did mean it not to go out, but if you intended it to the list, if you
let me know, I'll post this reply there, too.




Joel, my comments interleaved:

<<   re "sate" -- perhaps should be interpreted "was seated", and pronounced to
rhyme with "fate".

JB: I still think "sate" is "sat" with the "customary" appended "e".  See "She
bide ["bid"] me hold my tonge" slightly earlier.   >>

For what it's worth, the conjugation as given for the ME _Ancren Riwle_:

SITTEN (inf.) -- SIT (3rd Pres.) -- SET (Pret) -- SETTEN (Pret. Pl.)

     (Sweet _Middle English Primer_, p. 14.)

This from _The New England Magazine_ (1834, p. 467):

"Another word, frequently used incorrectly, I think, is _sate_ or _sat_ as the
past participle of _sit_; as, “I have sate.” This is not peculiar to Boston, or
even to New-England. It is sanctioned by Murray, it is true, but he gives no
authority for its legitimacy. His grammar is a thing of yesterday. Preceding
grammarians afford no justification of his dictum."


Which suggests a conflation, marked but not unique to Massachusett, of sat/sate,
as late as the nineteenth century.

My gut, insofar as it can be trusted, says an incomplete progression, in New
England, of one of the later waves of the Great Vowel Shift.  But in this case,
I may simply be suffering from a bout of indigestion.

<<   "bedshed" = "bed's head" = "head of the bed".

JB:  May be,  but "bedshead", as one word rather than two.   >>


<<   Having looked at the MS scrap (finally), the scribe uses "y" [sic] to
represent the (both voiced and voiceless, but only ever at the beginning of a
word?) "th" sound.

JB:  At this time the form of "y" used for "th" ("the" in ms) and for "y"
("years" in the ms) was the same.  It was customary to raise the "e" in the "ye"
for "the" in mss and printed documents. Faithful modern transcriptions of such
documents also raise the "e".   >>

In the instance at issue, it's "y[superscript]e" in the MS, so a case of
not-sufficiently-faithful transcription catching us out.

<< JB (cont.) ...  I don't know whether one finds "ye" for "the" without a
raised "e" in printed 17th-century documents (someone perhaps knows, or could
look), but in some (less faithful) modern transcriptions it is not raised.   >>

See above. 

<< JB (cont.) ...  I'm sure the form of the "y" in the middle of words was the
same; y would it be different?  I don't recall ever seeing a yogh in printed or
ms, but I have read only very little in ms form.   >>

Sure, but my point was that, as far as I've ever encountered, "y" for "THORN" is
only ever used at the *beginning* of words.  From the start, printers transcribe
the thorn glyph as "th" medially and in a final position.  Same holds for
post-medieval MSS generally, I think, and certainly in this case.  The MS
rendering of "the" as "y[superscipt]e" tends to be a post-medieval alignment of
writing with the normal way that the text would be presented in print, not vice
versa.  So the thorn glyph wouldn't be part of manuscripts in the late 1600s.
 MSS with "y[superscript]m" as an abbreviation for "them", and "y[superscript]t"
as an abbreviation for "that", are also mimicking or following the familiar (to
them) printed format.

The three forms of thorn, wynn, and yogh were never, as far as I know, used by
either English or Scottish printers from the very beginning.  Scottish printers
addressed the problem of the yogh differently from English printers,
representing it with the letter "z".  Thus leading to the (still present)
confusion of persons with the surname "Menzies" pronouncing this,
disconcertingly, as <mingus>.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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