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

Benjamin Barrett mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 22 13:24:11 EDT 2016

These off-list comments are getting pretty exciting now.

> On 22 Sep 2016, at 10:08, Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM> wrote:
> Joel,
> 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.
> Best,
> Robin
> ___________________________________________ 
> 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."
>     https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5nhPAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA467
> https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5nhPAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA467
> 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.   >>
> Concur.
> <<   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>.
> Robin

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

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