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  1. #1
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    Default word ending 'eth'

    what is it called in english when words end with 'eth' e.g. thinketh and why is it used?

  2. #2
    Noego is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: word ending 'eth'

    As a man thinketh

    I believe this is old English.

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    Default Re: word ending 'eth'

    so what would you say instead of that now.would it just be 'thinks'?
    so it was used before that doctor johnson or whatever invented the dictionary? what kind of comment would you make upon coming across that whilst analysing text?

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    Noego is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: word ending 'eth'

    I'm sure you've heard of "thou" before. Here's an explanation from this very website, under "Archaic Language":

    "Words and phrases that were used regularly in a language, but are now less common are archaic. Such words and phrases are often used deliberately to refer to earlier times. For instance, the pronoun 'thou', which is very rarely used nowadays is an archaism, which is sometimes used to suggest biblical language or a dialect."

    I firmly believe that "eth" as in:

    "As a man thinketh"

    is archaic English.

    Yes I would say "As a man thinks."

    I think you are referring to Dr. Samuel Johnson. I'm afraid I don't have the expertise but I doubt the publication of the dictionary had the most impact on the disappearance of archaic English expressions.

    I would be curious to know around what time "thou" and other archaisms disappeared from the English language.

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    Default Re: word ending 'eth'

    I don't know where to start researching about when exactly archaic words disappeared from the English Langauge.
    Do you think it had something to do with Caxton's printing press even though that was around the 1400s.

  6. #6
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: word ending 'eth'

    Quote Originally Posted by msgrice View Post
    I don't know where to start researching about when exactly archaic words disappeared from the English Langauge.
    Do you think it had something to do with Caxton's printing press even though that was around the 1400s.
    I'm afraid that question's unanswerable. New words are being introduced all the time, and old ones are dying out. The ones that die out often leave a trace (in fixed collocations - of which there are thousands of examples: "hale and hearty" for example [meaning "healthy] - the phrase lives on, but the word "hale" - on its own - is not current). At what stage can anyone say a word like 'hale' has disappeared? - it still occurs in current speech, and a decent dictionary will document the collocation 'hale and hearty'.

    Printing technology may well have had something to do with the spread of the "-eth" verb ending. Such verb endings were typical of southern dialects (of English), and it's possible (if not probable - hmm, there's grist* for a research thesis) that the places that were the centres of printing (particularly London) tended to favour the linguistic traits typical of "their" dialects.

    Dictionaries such as Online Etymology Dictionary can give you an idea (not, of course, infallible) of the first usage, but only research in corpuses [databases full of text examples] can give an idea of the last (or, rather, they help recognize a dying trend). This sort of research is patchy, and usually concentrates on one field of writing - or a small range of fields in a necessarily restricted period (restricted by the dates of the material in the corpus). Experts are people who know more and more about less and less, so while there may be people who can say "this word was no longer used by the end of the eighteenth century in legal judgments" I would be very surprised if anyone could ever say "this word disappeared at this point".

    b

    * Another word that's almost died out, though people like me are doing their best to keep it alive - it's probably related to the verb "grind" and refers to the gritty stuff that formed the basis of the flour-making process. It's died out (virtually, if not completely) in the concrete/physical sense, but is still used figuratively to mean anything that helps to start off or form the basis of an enterprise (such as research or a discussion).

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