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Tudor English.
January 8, 2012
3:10 am
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Neil Kemp
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I had a conversation recently with a friend from Canada who used an expression which had a different meaning to me in England than it obviously had in Canada. This made me think that, given the differences in the meanings of words and phrases in a common language now, and given the differences in modern word meanings that I have experienced in my lifetime, what changes have taken place over 500 years? Could our viewpoint of some events or conversations be wrong due to our modern interpretation of language? Unlikely, I know, as such things will have been well researched, but possible?

In Shakespeare's time, for example, a common colloquialism for the word Nunnery was a brothel! Now that confusion could get anyone into bother! Here are a few more examples, followed with their Tudor meaning.

Boss: A fat woman. Cake: A loaf of bread. Sad: Serious or sober. Leech (or Leche): A physician. Luxury: Lechery. Cod: A bag. Good Fellow: A thief. Poke: A bag or sack. Strange: Not the usual (as opposed to odd). Sooth: Truth.

January 8, 2012
3:48 am
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Sophie1536
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Neil, what a brilliant topic!
I'll be 50 in May and since I was young I've noticed so many words and meanings change so heaven knows how things have changed over 500 years. One that always makes me laugh is the word “Duckies” as in Tudor England that meant breasts Laugh
Excellent topic Neil, I'm looking forward to what everyone puts as it will be rather fun!

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh144/nicksbabe28/Backstreet%20n%20Graffix/Image4-1.jpg

January 8, 2012
4:04 am
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Bill1978
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I concur with the notion this is a great topic. At the moment the only word I can think of is not so much the change in the meaning but the change in society's attitude to the use of the word.

While reading TOBG, I was shocked to read Anne and Mary discussing cleaning their vagina but using the c word and throughout the book there is numerous uses of the c word in every day conversation. So I took it upon myself to research (and ok I admit I relied on Wikipedia) but it does seem to have been an in vogue word to use during the Tudor period with no shock vale applied to it. Apparently it started off bad, turned good and then returned to badness. I personally hate the word, but was surprised that it was common appropriate colloquialism during that time and perhaps The Evil Author actually got something right.

 

It's amazing how words have changed just within my lifetime, while I admit faggot has never meant a bundle of sticks to me. Fag started off as a cigarette before being used as a putdown for gay men. As a kid, I was exposed to enough usage of gay to be aware it meant happy, before it meant a homosexual man. I just really hate that the word gay is now used as a putdown for people too lazy to say this sucks and I don't like it. I'm hopinh I'm slowly educating my students that it could be taken as a put down for someone in the class who identifies as gay or perhaps is struggling to come with terms with their sexuality and that using the term is just making them retreat deeper within themselves..I will not give up on this change of meaning.

 

Anyway, Neil anymore Tudor words. I initially thought this might have been about my plight of struggling to read Tudor English LOL

January 8, 2012
7:55 am
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Elliemarianna
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I believe C*** in medieval times meant hole in a hedge, it certainly did down here in Somerset. A Bastard was a form of farming equipment I think…

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

January 8, 2012
9:57 pm
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Mya Elise
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I've also wondered about different meanings with words. Usually while reading books on different times in England there are words like you used above and have complete different meanings and it confused me to no end until i finally figured out that it's different with us then with them (or however you want to say).

I don't know if this is the best of examples and I don't mean to offend anyone at all:

Fa**ot (I feel horrible typing the whole word but gg is in the blank spaces) means a pile of sticks or just sticks. I read this in a book about Anne and she had a dream, I think, about being burnt in that word…or something like that! I believe the book was 'To die for' but I could be wrong.

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

January 8, 2012
10:26 pm
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Anyanka
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If you  ever get the chance to read Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaimen where the meaning is explored vis-a-vis the burning of….

 

There's a British meat dish as well….

 

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It's always bunnies.

January 8, 2012
11:51 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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Back before the Team Katharine vs Team Anne vs Team Jane nonsense drove me away, I really liked The Tudors wiki section entitled Tudor Words Glossary. The link is here:

http://www.thetudorswiki.com/p…..s+Glossary

Some of the terms I found most interesting (overlapping with some of Neil's) are:

Act of Attainder – In English legality, a person condemned for a serious crime such as treason could be declared “attainted”, i.e. 'stained' by the court, thus depriving him/her of all civil rights such as owning property or willing it to his/her family. The property of the condemned was thus forfeit to the King as well as any titles and privileges, i.e. wardships, incomes, etc. Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, Margaret Plantagenet Pole (Lady Salisbury), and Katherine Howard were attainted in addition to being sentenced to death. It goes even further in that it allows the accused to be “legally” declared guilty without trial or the need to present evidence. 

Almoner – a church official whose duty it was to distribute charity (alms) Thomas Wolsey had once been Henry VIII's almoner, that is, he oversaw the distribution of alms on his behalf.

Betroth – to promise to wed. A phonetic variation of “by truth”. See also “troth” and “plight”

Bonaire – cheerful and pleasant; it was a part of a wife's vows to promise to be “bonaire and buxom in bed and at board”

Buxom – obedient, lively, yielding

Closet – As in The King's Closet, or The Queen's Closet – a small room used as a private chapel or prayer-room. Henry VIII married Jane Seymour in The Queen's Closet at Whitehall Palace.

Duckies – breasts; Henry in one of his letters to Anne Boleyn refers to her “pretty duckies”

Hap – chance or fortune. By chance (mayhap), by good fortune (hap'ly, now 'happily')

Hochepot – a mixture, referring originally to a soup or stew. This is where we get the modern term “hodgepodge”

Humours – It was believed that the body was governed by 4 bodily fluids, or humours: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Blood-letting was an attempt to cure a patient by balancing the humours. The word “melancholy” is actually from the Greek for “black bile”. Anger-causing bile was believed to be produced in the spleen, thus yelling at someone is referred to as “venting your spleen”.

Impertinent – Irrelevant. The sense of irreverent, or rudely bold, isn't seen until 1681.
 
Jointure – an arrangement usually concluded during marriage negotiations whereby a man set aside property to be used for the support of his wife after his death. Many women had to fight for their jointures after the deaths of their husbands. Mary Howard was said to hold a grudge against her father, the Duke of Norfolk, for failing to defend her jointure with the King after the death of her husband, Henry's natural son, Henry Fitzroy. 

Leche, or leech – physician, healer

List – to please, wish, or desire; to want (see Thomas Wyatt Poetry page -” who list to hunt”) from the sense of list = tilting or leaning toward

Luxury – lechery

Mayhap – maybe, perhaps

Mummery – a performance of Mummers (masked or costumed merrymakers/actors)

Privy Chamber – Private apartment

Physick/phisik – a medicine, especially a purgative

Plight – pledge or promise. This meaning is now used only in the archaic “I plight thee my troth.” ('I pledge you my vow' or 'I give you my promise')

Poke – bag, sack ( “pig in a poke”)

Poppet – a little doll; this is also where we get the word “puppet”

Potage – soup

Precontract – a previous contract, esp. one which bars the making of another, as, formerly, a betrothal, which in the Tudor era was as binding as marriage, or to bind by a previous contract. Henry tried to raise this issue to rid himself of Anne Boleyn, (Henry Percy), Anne of Cleves (the Duke of Lorraine), and Katherine Howard (Francis Dereham). It was never a successful strategy for him.
 
Private – Not open to the public. Both Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard were granted “private” executions inside the walls of the Tower of London complex. There were still, from various estimates, between several hundred to several thousand witnesses to their deaths, but common people and foreigners (like ambassadors) were kept out.

Privy/privee – in private, discreet, secretive
 
Qualm – Meant “plague”, from the original sense of death and destruction. Meaning had softened to “feeling of faintness” by 1530, and “unease or doubt” by 1553. “Scruple of conscience” doesn't show up until 1649.

Quit – free

Quoth – said

Ribaldry – coarse jesting

Rood – crucifix; often people would take an oath 'by the rood'. 

Sad – Serious or sober

Sanguine – in health: too much blood, in personality: ardent or hopeful

Secret – Henry VIII was said to have married several of his wives “secretly”. This simply meant it wasn't announced to the public ahead of time, not that they were being sneaky or deceptive.

Silly – weak or deserving of pity

Sooth/soothly – truth, truly

Sorely – very

Strange – Back in Tudor times, it meant “not the usual” rather than “odd”. When Queen Jane first became ill after Edward's birth, she had chills from her fever and severe gastrointestinal distress. Her ladies were accused of “letting her take cold and letting her eat strange foods”, by which they meant letting Jane eat rich foods that were not her usual fare.

Swive – A Tudor-era slang term meaning to have sexual intercourse, and is related to the word “swivel”, unsurprisingly.

Tilting – jousting

Tiltyard – Area where jousting took place. 

Trencher – a plate or bowl made of hard, stale bread

Troth – A phonetic variant of “truth”, it's a promise, pledge, or vow.

                        survivor ribbon                             

               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

January 9, 2012
4:48 am
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Neil Kemp
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Thanks, Sophie. Although the next time I see two ducks on a pond my mind may be guilty of wandering to another image.Laugh

January 9, 2012
11:19 am
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Mya Elise
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LOL, Neil.

I recongize almost every word up there that has been in books and some I had no idea the meaning. Like mayhap was in 'To die for' alot and at first I didn't grasp it but then they used it like they would with maybe. Duckies was another one when i read the that Henry to Anne letter, I thought to myself “you want to see her pretty ducks?”, like Henry what are you talking about? You can't write a love letter and in the middle mention how much you want to kiss her ducks! Laugh Then I finally found out the meaning and mentally hit myself.

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

January 11, 2012
1:52 am
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Impish_Impulse
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I thought the words which don't mean the same thing 'now vs then' to be the most interesting.

                        survivor ribbon                             

               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

January 11, 2012
3:22 am
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Louise
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I suppose the sixteenth century definitions are better than some twenty-first century definitions:-

1.  Virginity…a condition normally lost in the back of a taxi.

2.  Lust…a feeling which lasts until the fatal words, 'I do'.

3.  Marriage…a short term condition.

4.  Love…a feeling which lasts until the wedding cake has been digested.

5.  Divorce…an act which takes place approximately 12 months after the wedding cake has been digested.

6.  Wealthy…a divorce lawyer, or alternatively someone who hasn't been through (5).

7.  Sober…a rare condition affecting about 10% of the population.

8.  Drunkeness…a normal state of affairs save for about 10% of the population.

9.  Bride…the pregnant one at the alter.

10. Groom…the depressed one next to her.   

 

As a divorce lawyer I think I'm entitled to be cynical!!

January 11, 2012
11:03 am
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Mya Elise
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LOL.

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

January 11, 2012
2:07 pm
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Bill1978
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That is some funny stuff right there. LOL. I'm not a divorce lawyer but based upon celebrities that is so very true. And if that makes me a cynical bastard then so be it. LOL

January 11, 2012
2:54 pm
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Louise
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Hello Bill,

I think you have to laugh at this stuff or else you would either cry or hang yourself. I think cynicism can be quite healthy. It certainly keeps me sane….sort off!!

January 11, 2012
3:56 pm
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Neil Kemp
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Louise and Bill, and there was I thinking that I was the only cynic on this site.Wink

January 11, 2012
9:46 pm
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Anyanka
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I think most  of us are here , Neil , in our own special ways…

It's always bunnies.

January 12, 2012
9:43 am
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Sharon
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I thought this article was interesting.

 

http://englishhistoryauthors.b…..l?spref=tw

January 12, 2012
10:58 am
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Mya Elise
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Guess I better join the cynic group…Confused

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

January 12, 2012
5:42 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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Sharon said:

I thought this article was interesting.

 

http://englishhistoryauthors.b…..l?spref=tw

I did, too! From godparents to 'hen parties”, huh? The English language is fascinating, not least because it happily absorbs foreign terms as its own.

                        survivor ribbon                             

               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

April 4, 2012
11:35 pm
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juliane
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Some words have french roots… To be healthy, en bon air. Swive, perhaps from the word ‘suivre’, to follow. I loved reading all this!

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