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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Words Ending in eth/th
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0583  Tuesday, 29 March 2005

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Mar 2005 14:25:01 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th

[2]     From:   Peter Groves <
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        Date:   Saturday, 26 Mar 2005 12:36:43 +1100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Saturday, 26 Mar 2005 19:27:52 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th

[4]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 08:44:29 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0551 Words Ending in eth/th


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Mar 2005 14:25:01 -0500
Subject: 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th

 >The Tav in Yiddish is usually pronounced as S at the end of a word.
 >Elizabethan English has its coincidences with other languages

Now you did it!  You have opened the floodgates.  Basch and Amit will
now inundate us with "incontrovertible evidence" that Shakespeare
single-handedly constructed Elizabethan English from a Yiddish template.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
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Date:           Saturday, 26 Mar 2005 12:36:43 +1100
Subject: 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th

Robin Hamilton writes: "Well, it would partly turn on the status of the
Final Unaccented <e>in Elizabethan English.

Leaving aside whether this was ever (even in Chaucer) anything other
than a literary tick, Spenser was reconstructing Chaucerian English
around this very time, so you could have:

          presenteth / debateth

. as metrically identically (at least in syllabic terms) to:

          present'es / debat'es

I'm not sure if I'd go to the stake for this, but surely there are
instances in Shakespeare where the schwa at the end of a verb was a
factor in the metrical counting of a line?"

In the world of Shakespearean studies, where so much is debatable (did
Shakespeare, for example, pepper his works with Cabbalistic anagrams for
the delectation of a small coterie of learned Hebraists?  We may never
know.) we should be grateful for the few simple certainties that come
our way. One of these is that the verbal inflexion <-eth>is syllabic in
Shakespeare after all consonants, whereas <-[e]s>is syllabic only after
final sibilants (including affricates with sibilant release, as in
<church>and <judge>).

Spenser imitated Chaucer's vocabulary, but he was in no position to
imitate his actual prosody because it wasn't understood before the late
C18: available printed texts were highly corrupt and represented Chaucer
as a writer of four-beat doggerel (as imitated in <The Shepherds'
Calendar>): "A kyght there was, a worthy man / That from the time he
first began ...").  Shakespeare, of course, usually wrote in
contemporary English.

Mr Hamilton is in danger of confusing writing and pronunciation when he
says "surely there are instances in Shakespeare where the schwa at the
end of a verb was a factor in the metrical counting of a line?"  Of
course phonological final schwas count in the metre, but they are not
the same thing as orthographic final <e>, a letter used with great
variability by Elizabethan spellers.

Of course, I could be easily refuted by an example from Shakespeare of
syllabic final third-person singular <es>where the verb-stem does not
end in a sibilant.

Peter Groves
School of English etc.
Monash University

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Saturday, 26 Mar 2005 19:27:52 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0565 Words Ending in eth/th

Robin Hamilton quotes Peter Groves, "Surely the issue here is whether
forms ending in <eth>function in the metre in a syllabically distinct
way to those in <s>..."

Then Robin writes,  "The answer is that they clearly do."

A SHAKSPER member emailed me offlist and thanked me for my previous
example in my last post.

I offer another, from my book which covers these "words ending in
eth/th" in more detail, quoting accordingly [xiv and xv]:

Thus the near-sonnet aspect of Psalm 23 according to the authorized KJV
is noted by this scholar, and set in this following stanzaic pattern of
a Shakespearean Age 14-line sonnet:

PSALM 23

The LORD *is* my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me
in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou *art* with me; thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table
before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup
runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Obviously, from a literary point of view, it can be seen why the "-eth"
endings might have been retained in the KJV and why scholars might be
correct in their assessment that Shakespeare had influence with his king
in the final rendering with this Shakespearean Age Bible.  With the
"-eth" endings making for a full syllable, the lines parse iambic
pentameter for the most part, and allow for Psalm 23 to be structured
almost perfectly into a free-verse version of a Shakespearean sonnet
without, of course, the rhyme scheme.

I noted elsewhere in my book Jesus: The Gospel According To Will that
the "-est" endings also serving the same purpose.  For those interested
in my fuller comments, they can find my book online at Barnes & Noble and:

http://anoldbooklook.com

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

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 08:44:29 -0600
Subject: 16.0551 Words Ending in eth/th
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0551 Words Ending in eth/th

Though it fails to rhyme, and is short a couplet, Peter Groves' found
sonnet is truly enchanting:

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

With a little deceit we could probably persuade some earnest graduate
student to deconstruct it.

Cheers,
don

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