Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Sep 24 17:28:42 UTC 2009

At 9/24/2009 12:35 PM, David Bowie wrote:
>>or shalbe in drinke, to secure
>                                           ^^^^^^
>>them by committment, or otherwise, till the law be
>>satisfyed."  [Abbreviations expanded and u -> v.]
>This is more idle curiosity than anything else, but was the "shalbe"
>here a compound (contraction?) of "shall be", a transcription error, or
>something else?

It's not strictly speaking an abbreviation, since it has no special
marks for abbreviation (which my sources transcribe -- that is, do
not replace with the abbreviated letters -- elsewhere).  It is not a
transcription error, since it appears numerous times in the laws and
court records of the Plymouth and early Massachusetts colonies. I
find "shall be" in later laws and records.  We would certainly write
"shall be", so I suppose it can be called a contraction (without
apostrophe).  The OED picks up 1078 instances, from 1351 to 1722
(and, unfortunately, some dozen undated in the Results list).


The American Dialect Society -

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