[Ads-l] "cham come"? And "itch"?

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Sun May 21 08:31:54 EDT 2017

Why are both "cham" and "come" consecutive in the following ballad verse (extant from 1661 but perhaps from about 1633)?

"Che [I] have been in New-England, but now cham come o'er,
Itch [I?] do think they shal catch me go thither no more.

[J. A. Leo Lemay, "New England's Annoyances (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1985), p. 33.]

The OED tells me that "cham" is Old High German past tense for "come", so the line would be "but now came come o'er"?  Doesn't make sense.

Or is "cham" a form of "I am", so the line would be "but now I am come o'er", meaning back to old England?  That would make sense, and the form seems to fit with "che".  But I don't find anything in the OED about this possible use of "cham".

P.S.  I don't find "itch" for "I" in the OED either.


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

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