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  1. Odessa Dawn's Avatar
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    #1

    "Thou shalt not"



    In order to be really fluent in English, you can’t just learn modern English, you must also know a little bit of older, more poetic English. Not actual “Old English”, since that’s a whole other language entirely, but “older” English.

    Here in downtown Columbus, there’s a church which advertises with the message: “Which part of ‘Thou shalt not‘ don’t you understand?” This slogan always makes me laugh, because, having studied languages, I’ve come to see how the slogan must be extremely confusing to most ESL speakers. The truth is that, for a lot of speakers, “Thou” and “shalt” are both unfamiliar. And the fact that by stringing them together in essentially the same structure as “You will not”, you end up creating a command– that’s even worse!
    More: 10 Reasons Why English Is A Hard Language

    Isn’t "Thou shalt not" Biblical English? It is not "Archaic English?" I have been told that "This is not an example of Old English."

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    Since the Bible wasn't written in English, it was only translated into English, I'm not sure we can genuinely call anything Biblical English.
    I don't have time right now to look into what type of English used "thou shalt" but Wikipedia gives a good history of the Bible's various translations into English here. By looking at the dates and comparing them with the dates that different versions of English were being used, it should be possible to work it out.

    Even native speakers might not realise they're using an old form of English sometimes. If you asked a standard Brit to tell you what "You will" is in an ancient English form, they would probably say "I have no idea!" But you can bet your boots that if you asked them to give you an example of one of the ten commandments in an old style of English, they would say "Thou shalt not kill" or similar. It's funny how we don't realise we're using another language sometimes when it's part of a well-known phrase or saying.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    Quote Originally Posted by Odessa Dawn View Post
    Isn’t "Thou shalt not" Biblical English? It is not "Archaic English?" I have been told that "This is not an example of Old English."
    It's 'Early Modern English'.

    Rover

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    #4

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    This is an example of real Old English:

    Hwt! We Gardena in geardagum,
    eodcyninga, rym gefrunon,
    hu a elingas ellen fremedon.
    Oft Scyld Scefing sceaena reatum,

    5 monegum mgum, meodosetla ofteah,
    egsode eorlas. Syan rest wear
    feasceaft funden, he s frofre gebad,
    weox under wolcnum, weormyndum ah,
    ot him ghwylc ara ymbsittendra

    10 ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
    gomban gyldan. t ws god cyning!
    m eafera ws fter cenned,
    geong in geardum, one god sende
    folce to frofre; fyrenearfe ongeat
    Text: Beowulf
    Wikipedia on the poem: Beowulf

    Old English is almost completely incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't studied it. You can get the odd word or phrase, but little more.

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    #5

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    And please scroll down for a translation of the same.









    scroll more

















    scroll more








    Lo! the Spear-Danes’ glory through splendid achievements
    The folk-kings’ former fame we have heard of,
    How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.
    Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers
    5
    From many a people their mead-benches tore.
    Since first he found him friendless and wretched,
    The earl had had terror: comfort he got for it,
    Waxed ’neath the welkin, world-honor gained,
    Till all his neighbors o’er sea were compelled to
    10
    Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute:
    An excellent atheling! After was borne him
    A son and heir, young in his dwelling,
    Whom God-Father sent to solace the people.
    How much of that did you get?

    I have left the explanatory notes out, but they're still required.

    Source: Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem

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    #6

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    The King James Bible was so influential that much of the language from there is "stuck" in that form -- at least for use by Christians in their various churches that use English. English speakers who know the Lord's Prayer, know it as "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name..."

    Of course, they don't use "thy" and "thou" and "art" in everyday life.

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    #7

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    In BrE, thee and thou were in use in some regions well into the 20th century- you can find them in DH Lawrence, for instance.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    In BrE, thee and thou were in use in some regions well into the 20th century- you can find them in DH Lawrence, for instance.
    My father's mother, who was Wiltshire born and bred, used "thee" until she died in 1989. It's very common in that dialect although I imagine it's disappearing fast as people move around the country so much. When my grandmother spoke to other people who were lifelong residents of that Wiltshire village, I could barely understand what they were saying.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #9

    Re: "Thou shalt not"

    It does still survive, but mostly among older dialect users- it's on its way out apart from Biblical, literary and other texts.

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