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

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Sun May 21 11:53:10 EDT 2017

Thanks, Robin.  As I suspected.  But I have a hard-to-impossible time documenting "cham" and "itch" from the OED!


      From: Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
 Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2017 10:08 AM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "cham come"? And "itch"?
Middle English “Ich am” (I am) => "cham".  By the seventeenth century, it would
have been (I think) a dialectical form.  

(In _King Lear_, Shakespeare uses variants of this it to colour Edgar's speech
as a “rustic” when he confronts Oswald in IV, vi.).

Thus:  I [Che <= “ich” = “I”] have been in New England, but now I am [Ich am =>
cham] come over.  I do [not] think they shall catch me and [make] me go there
anymore.  [Or "catch me go thither" might be meant to be read as, "make me go

So probably either a close reproduction of (perhaps Somerset) dialect, or a
literary casting of a character as a rustic.


>    On 21 May 2017 at 13:31 Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>    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.
>    Joel


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

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