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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Words Ending in eth/th
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0551  Thursday, 24 March 2005

[1]     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Mar 2005 13:06:53 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th

[2]     From:   Peter Groves <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Mar 2005 08:56:32 +1100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Mar 2005 19:34:51 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Mar 2005 13:06:53 -0500
Subject: 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th

Randy sends me the following clarification of his conclusion:

"I think it safer to say that we don't know how the examples were
pronounced, but a strong case can be made for the spelling's not
dictating the pronunciation and the number of syllables-but merely the
grammar."

Quoting Randy McLeod, I remain, yours,
Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Mar 2005 08:56:32 +1100
Subject: 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th

Apparently Randall McLeod (according to William Godshalk) has "opined
that in Eliz times, the spelling [<eth>/<[e]s>] may not have specified
the number of syllables"

Surely the issue here is whether forms ending in <eth>function in the
metre in a syllabically distinct way to those in <s>(leaving aside verbs
ending in a sibilant, where the choice would make no difference, as in
"Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye")

The answer is that they clearly do.  To take a very few of the thousands
of possible instances:

That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Where wasteful time debateth with decay
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
My most true mind thus maketh mine untrue.
And in abundance addeth to his store,
Who hateth thee that I do call my friend,
Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.
The sight of lovers feedeth those in love.
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
So much she doteth on her Mortimer
The number of the King exceedeth ours.
The bird of dawning singeth all night long

"Modernize" these examples and you have a collection of unmetrical lines:

*That this huge stage presents nought but shows
  *Where wasteful time debates with decay
  *As after sunset fades in the west,
  *My most true mind thus makes mine untrue.
  *And in abundance adds to his store,
  *Who hates thee that I do call my friend,
  *Beauty provokes thieves sooner than gold.
  *The sight of lovers feeds those in love.
  *Would, like the spring that turns wood to stone,
  *So much she dotes on her Mortimer
  *The number of the King exceeds ours.
*The bird of dawning sings all night long;

Peter Groves

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Mar 2005 19:34:51 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0540 Words Ending in eth/th

William Godshalk writes, "I got this response from Randy McLeod offline:
In Arnold's "The Hayswater Boat", he says "moves" and "moveth" in the
same line, and unless you pronounce the first as a mono-syllable and the
second as a disyllable, the meter won't work."

I made similar observations in my 2002 book JESUS: The Gospel According
To Will.  For example, the KJV reads "He mak-eth me lie down..." and
that is two syllables, whereas "He makes me..." is one.  Clearly, from
my view, Shakespearean Age eth endings allowed for the creation of extra
beats in poetics lines of blank verse.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

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