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НАУЧНАЯ БИБЛИОТЕКА - РЕФЕРАТЫ - Archaisms in literature

Archaisms in literature




1 General information about archaisms



The process of words aging

Alternative meanings



List of archaic English words and their modern equivalents

2 Analysis of ancient texts

W. Shakespeare, Sonnet 2

Love and duty reconcil'd by W. Congreve

3 Archaisms in literature and mass media

Deliberate usage of archaisms

Commonly misused archaisms




The word-stock of a language is in an increasing state of change. Words change their meaning and sometimes drop out of the language altogether. New words spring up and replace the old ones. Some words stay in the language a very long time and do not lose their faculty of gaining new meanings and becoming richer and richer polysemantically. Other words live but a short time and are like bubbles on the surface of water -- they disappear leaving no trace of their existence. In registering these processes the role of dictionaries can hardly be over-estimated. Dictionaries serve to retain this or that word in a language either as a relic of ancient times, where it lived and circulated, or as a still living unit of the system, though it may have lost some of its meanings. They may also preserve certain nonce-creations, which were never intended for general use. In every period in the development of a literary language one can find words which will show more or less apparent changes in their meaning or usage, from full vigour, through a moribund state, to death, i. e. complete disappearance of the unit from the language.

Usually we do not notice the change that takes place during our own time because it happens quite slowly. But if we take a look back over a considerable span of time, language change becomes more obvious. If we touch the problem of historical development we can not pass over in silence peculiarities of early English language, and comparison between initial and today's English. Such line of investigation considers diachronic approach to the main question of this course work - archaisms in literature. It's very important to reveal the notion of archaism, the sphere of usage, origin and many other essential components that are comprised by the word “Archaism”. Besides the direct investigation of archaisms I included information about neologisms, as contrary notion, and also about retronyms. All the aspects stated above will be carefully investigated in this work; moreover there will be included olden text with and analysis of poetry.

1General information about archaisms


Archaisms are words which are no longer used in everyday speech, which have been ousted by their synonyms. Archaisms remain in the language, but they are used as stylistic devices to express solemnity. Most of these words are lexical archaisms and they are stylistic synonyms of words which ousted them from the neutral style. Some of them are: steed (horse), slay (kill), behold (see), perchance (perhaps), woe (sorrow) etc. An archaism can be a word, a phrase, or the use of spelling, letters, or syntax that have passed out of use. Because they are both uncommon and dated, archaisms draw attention to themselves when used in general communication.

Writers of historical novels, as well as historians and film makers, for example, do their best to represent time and culture accurately and avoid unintentional archaisms. Creating a fictional character from times past may require extensive research into and knowledge of archaisms.

An example of a fairly common archaism involving spelling and letters is businesses that include Ye Olde in their name. The word Ye does not actually start with a y, as it may appear; it begins with the letter thorn which has passed out of use. Thorn was a letter used to spell the sound we now spell with the consonant digraph th. Hence, Ye is pronounced as and means the. Olde reflects a spelling from Middle English of the word we now write as old. Businesses may use such archaisms to invoke a mood or atmosphere -- as in Ye Olde Tea Shoppe or The Publick Theare; or to convey something about their product -- as in Olde Musick and Cokery Books, an Australian firm specializing in sheet music and recipes from the past.

Certain phrases are associated with rituals and traditions, and though they would not be considered current if used in general speech or writing, they continue to be used in the venues or situations in which they are meaningful. For example, phrases such as “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” are considered archaic in general use, but being part of the common English translation of the Ten Commandments, they continue to be repeated and used in that context without calling attention to themselves. Syntax falls into this category as well. Legal writs characteristically include lists of phrases beginning Whereas, followed by one beginning therefore -- an archaic style and structure not typically found elsewhere.

Archaisms can also be put to good use when they are carefully chosen to create irony or humor. One could, for example, mock the triviality of an errand run by saying, “Alas, I must away on my journey betimes. I must traverse the roads, journeying hither and yon in search of . . . muffins.” Used seriously in general discourse, however, archaisms can seem affected or be misunderstood.

Sometimes a lexical archaism begins a new life, getting a new meaning, then the old meaning becomes a semantic archaism, e.g. “fair” in the meaning “beautiful” is a semantic archaism, but in the meaning “blond” it belongs to the neutral style.
Sometimes the root of the word remains and the affix is changed, then the old affix is considered to be a morphemic archaism, e.g. “beauteous” - ous was substituted by - ful, “bepaint” - be- was dropped, “darksome” -some was dropped, “oft” -en was added etc.

 In language, an archaism is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately (to achieve a specific effect) or as part of a specific jargon (for example in law) or formula (for example in religious contexts). Many nursery rhymes contain archaisms. Archaic elements that only occur in certain fixed expressions (for example “be that as it may”) are not considered to be archaisms.


Archaisms are most frequently encountered in poetry, law, and ritual writing and speech. Their deliberate use can be subdivided into literary archaisms, which seeks to evoke the style of older speech and writing; and lexical archaisms, the use of words no longer in common use. Archaisms are kept alive by these ritual and literary uses and by the study of older literature. Should they remain recognised, they can be revived, as the word anent was in the past century.

Some, such as academic and amateur philologists, enjoy learning and using archaisms either in speech or writing, though this may sometimes be misconstrued as pseudo-intellectualism.

Archaisms are frequently misunderstood, leading to changes in usage. One example is the use of the archaic familiar second person singular pronoun “thou” to refer to God in English Christianity. Although originally a familiar pronoun, it has been misinterpreted as a respectful one by many modern Christians. Another example is found in the phrase “the odd man out”, which originally came from the phrase “to find the odd man out”, where the verb “to find out” has been split by its object “the odd man”, meaning the item which does not fit.

The compound adverbs and prepositions found in the writing of lawyers (e.g. heretofore, hereunto, thereof) are examples of archaisms as a form of jargon. Some phraseologies, especially in religious contexts, retain archaic elements that are not used in ordinary speech in any other context: "With this ring I thee wed." Archaisms are also used in the dialogue of historical novels in order to evoke the flavour of the period. Some may count as inherently funny words and are used for humorous effect.

The process of words aging

We shall distinguish three stages in the aging process of words: The beginning of the aging process when the word becomes rarely used. Such words are called obsolescent, i.e. they are in the stage of gradually passing out of general use. To this category first of all belong morphological forms belonging to the earlier stages in the development of the language. In the English language these are the pronouns thou and its forms thee, thy and thine, the corresponding verbal ending -est and the verb-forms art, wilt (thou makest, thou wilt), the ending -(e)th instead of -(e)s (he maketh) and the pronoun ye. To the category of obsolescent words belong many French borrowings which have been kept in the literary language as a means of preserving the spirit of earlier periods, e. g. a pallet (a straw mattress); a palfrey (a small horse); garniture (furniture); to peplume (to adorn with feathers or plumes). The second group of archaic words are those that have already gone completely out of use but are still recognised by the English-speaking community: e. g. methinks (it seems to me); nay (=no). These words are called obsolete. The third group, which may be called archaic proper, are words which are no longer recognizable in modern English, words that were in use in Old English and which have either dropped out of the language entirely or have changed in their appearance so much that they have become unrecognizable, e. g. troth (=faith); a losel (=a worthless, lazy fellow).It will be noted that on the diagram (p. 71) the small circles denoting archaic and poetic words overlap and both extend beyond the large circle "special literary vocabulary". This indicates that some of the words in these layers do not belong to the present-day English vocabulary. The borderlines between the groups are not distinct. - In fact they interpenetrate. It is especially difficult to distinguish between obsolete and obsolescent words. But the difference is important when we come to deal with the stylistic aspect of an utterance in which the given word serves a certain stylistic purpose. Obsolete and obsolescent words have separate functions, as we shall point oirt later. There is still another class of words, which is erroneously classed as archaic, viz. historical words. By-gone periods in the life of any society are marked by historical events, and by institutions, customs, material objects, etc. which are no longer in use, for example: -Thane, yeoman, goblet, baldric, mace. Words of this typeriever disappear from the language. They are historical terms and remain as terms referring to definite stages in the development of society and cannot therefore be dispensed with,, though the things and phenomena to which they refer have long passed into oblivion. This, the main function of archaisms, finds different interpretation in- different novels .by different writers. Some writers overdo things in this respect, the result being that the reader finds all kinds of obstacles in his way. Others under-estimate the necessity of introducing obsolete or obsolescent elements into their narration and thus fail to convey what is called "local colour".

Alternative meanings

In anthropological studies of culture, archaism is defined as the absence of writing and subsistence economy. In history, archaism is used to connote a superior, albeit mythical, "golden age."


New words and expressions or neologisms are created for new things irrespective of their scale of importance. They may be all-important and concern some social relationships, such as a new form of state, e. g. People's Republic, or something threaten-ing the very existence of humanity, like nuclear war. Or again they may be quite insignificant and short-lived, like fashions in dancing, clothing, hair-do or footwear, as the already outdated jitterbug and pony-tail. In every case either the old words are appro-priately changed in meaning or new words are borrowed, or more often coined out of the existing language material according to the pat-terns and ways productive in the language at a given stage of its development.


A retronym is a type of neologism coined for an old object or concept whose original name has come to be used for something else, is no longer unique, or is otherwise inappropriate or misleading. The term was coined by Frank Mankiewicz and popularized by William Safire in 1980 in the New York Times. Many of these are created by advances in technology. However, a retronym itself is a neological word coinage consisting of the original noun with a different adjective added, which emphasises the distinction to be made from the original form.

In 2000, the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition was the first major dictionary to include the word retronym. [3]

Examples of retronyms are acoustic guitar (coined when electric guitars appeared), or Parallel ATA (necessitated by the introduction of Serial ATA) as a term for the original Advanced Technology Attachment. World War I was called only the Great War until World War II. The advent of satellite radio has prompted the term terrestrial radio.

Posthumous names awarded in East Asian cultures to royalty after their death can be considered retronyms too, although their birth names will remain unambiguous.

Careless use of retronyms in historical fiction can cause anachronisms. For example, referring to the "First World War" in a piece set in 1935 would be incorrect -- "The Great War" and "14-18 War" were commonly employed descriptions. Anachronistic use of a retronym could also betray a modern document forgery (such as a description of the First Battle of Bull Run before the second had taken place).

List of archaic English words and their modern equivalents

This is a list of archaic English words and their modern equivalents. These words and spellings are now considered archaic or obsolescent within the current status of the English language. Given both the rapidity of change in modern English and the number of versions used by nations and cultures, it should be borne in mind that dates are approximate and that the information here may not apply to all versions of English.

The evolution of the English language is characterised by three phases. The first period dates from approximately 450 (the settlement of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in England) to 1066 AD (the Norman Conquest). At this time the language made use of almost full inflexion, and is called Anglo-Saxon, or more exactly Old English. The second period dates from the Norman Conquest to probably c.1400 (though some books differ on when this period ends) and is called Middle English. During this time the majority of the inflections disappeared, and many Norman and French words joined the language because of the profound influence of the Anglo-Norman ruling class. The third period dates from about 1400 to today (2006), and is known as Modern English, though until recently it was called New English. During the Modern English period, thousands of words have been derived by scholars from the Classical languages.

The impact of dictionaries in the definition of obsolescent or archaic forms has caused the standardisation of spelling, hence many variant forms have been consigned to the dustbin of history.

List of archaic English words and their modern equivalents

Original word






form of the verb 'to be', from Old English eart

present second-person singular form of the verb be.

…Who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? (Psalm 76:7)

used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language


past participle of 'astony' from Middle English astonien < Old French estoner < Vulgar Latin *extonare = 'to thunder'

to stun, amaze, or astonish; astound or bewilder

…and I sat astonied unitl the evening sacrifice. (Ezra 9:4)

used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language


from Old English betweohs or dative betweoxum (between)


…He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.(Song of Solomon 1:13)

used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language, also used in some Southern and Appalachian dialects of the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries.


From Bilbao, Spain, the best known place of manufacture

an obscure and seldom used word for a short sword


Bilbo is the Basque word for Bilbao. (Bilbo Baggins is a fictional character.)


from bob move up and down, dance, rebound + -ish

brisk, well


Used in 1860s


unknown by smelliness

a swaggering boaster


Used in 1860s


from the London prison of that name

a prison


Used in 1860s (and in common current use in Nottingham where the police station attached to the Magistrates' Court is called The Bridewell)


from the noun cad



the noun 'cad' is dying out



decaying meat


Used in 1860s

chalk scores


a reference to accounts of debt, recorded with chalk marks


Used in 1860s



codicil; a modification to one's legal will


Used in 1860s



a counterfeiter


Used in 1860s


From French "Connexion"

variant spelling of connection

Imagination could conceive almost anything in connexion with this place. (At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft)

Used in the 19th century


coster comes from Costard, a type of cooking apple, monger means trader or seller

a greengrocer, seller of fruit and vegetables


fishmonger, ironmonger and warmonger are among the surviving words ending in -monger



a fellow or chap

It's what a cove knows that counts, ain't it, Sybil? (The Difference Engine, by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson)

Used in 1860s


Old Norse, through Old French

to shatter


Used in 14th Century. A remnant survives in the phrase "cracked and crazed", also in ceramics where a glaze that has fine lines like cracks is called a craze. A modern usage would be in crazed paving.


from do

present second-person singular form of the verb do

I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me... (Job 30:20)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.


from do

present third-person singular form of the verb do

The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue. (Proverbs 25:23)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.



a prostitute

Finger of birth-strangled babe, ditch-delivered by a drab. (Shakespeare's Macbeth)



A part of the root stock of the OE vocabulary.



Under the influence of Old Norse speakers in England, the word dream changed its meaning from ``joy, festivity, noisy merriment" to ``a sleeping vision". Died out before the 13th century.


A bullion coin (not legal tender) used in international trade



Austrian Ducats were displaced by Gold Sovereigns throughout the British Empire. The term is used today only to refer to the coin in numismatic circles, as Ducats are still produced by the Austrian mint. Ducat, in Latin, means "he rules", "she rules", or "it rules".

eek, eke

Old English "ecan", to increase. Compare Dutch "ook" (also).


When Zephyrus eke with his swoote breath Inspired hath in every holt and heath (in this case, meaning is closer to "also") (Chaucer's Canterbury Tales) ;

Used mostly in Middle English, but also later on until the 1600s. Is the origin for the word "nickname" (in Middle English "ekename").


from Old English "-est". Compare with German "-st".

suffix used to form the present second-person singular of regular verbs

When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble (Proverbs 4:12)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.


from Old English "-eр". Compare with Dutch and German "-t".

suffix used to form the present third-person singular of regular verbs

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Psalm 23:2)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.

fire a rick


to burn a stack of hay (rick), as a form of protest


Used in 1860s





Used in Shakespearian English


From the flue of a chimney, normally coated with soot from log or coal fires



Used in 1860s



a tutor who prepares students for examinations


Used in 1860s


from have

present second-person singular form of the verb have

Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing... (Psalm 17:3)

Compare to hast in German. Used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.


from have

present third-person singular form of the verb have

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language


(to) here

English accusative case form



ivory tablets


paper for notetaking


Used in 1860s


Middle English kyen, a plural of the Old English cy, plural of cu, meaning cow



Used until late 1800s; still in Biblical use; Spenser used the form kyne



may, might


NB. It may be argued that it is not technically defunct since the word is still used in freemasonry and wicca as part of certain rituals.

over the broomstick


to be married in a folk ceremony and not recognized by the law. Still commonly used as part of the ceremony in modern Pagan weddings by Wiccans, Witches and other alternative spiritualities.

"Then if somebody been wantin' to marry they step over the broom and it be nounced they married" (Slave Narratives Betty Curlett of Hazen, Arkansas).

Used in 1860s, "over the brush" still used in British English, c.f. jumping the broomstick.


Latin for "as much", "how much"

money to pay a bill


Used in 1860s. Still used in this sense in some legal terminology.



to behave in a romping or rude manner


Used in 1860s

read with


to tutor


Used in 1860s, still used in Caribbean English



a bed


Used in 1860s, also a modern slang term dealing with law enforcement, and, as an adjective indicating an initial cruise for a Navy ship


from shall

used to form the future tense of verbs

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Psalm 2:9)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language



Variant of show.

'To shew Louisa, how alike in their creeds, her father and Harthouse are?' - (Dickens' notes on Hard Times).

Used in the 19th century


past participle of 'smite' from Old English smitan = 'to strike'

To strike hard, beat, inflict a blow

And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter... (Judges 15:8)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.

stand high


to have a good reputation


Used in 1860s

thee, thou, thy/thine

from Old English юъ

old 2nd person singular pronoun

Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. (Psalm 118:28)

"Thee" is used when it is the grammatical object, "thou" when it is the subject. "Thy" and "thine" are both genitives, but "thine" is only used in front of an initial vowel or h. Still used in Biblical/Shakespearian/poetical language.
Also still used in northern dialects of British English e.g. Yorkshire.


(to) there

English accusative case form of indicative pronoun there




from Old English юolian

to bear; put up with; suffer

A man with a good crop can thole some thistles (Scots Proverb)

Still used in northern and Scottish dialects of British English e.g. Yorkshire.



to, onto, upon

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9)

Mainly used in Early Modern English.


from be

imperfect second-person singular form of the verb be

If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. (Job 8:6)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.


from blacksmith, an iron worker

a tinsmith


Used in 1860s


contraction of where hither

to where (destination)

whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? (Genesis 16:8)

Compare to wohin in German. used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.



a sore or swelling in a finger or thumb


Used in 1860s, still used in British English


from will

used to form the future tense of verbs

whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? (Genesis 16:8)

used in Biblical, Shakespearian and poetical language.


from "victuals"


You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles. (Great Expectations, Charles Dickens)

Used in 1860s, vittles still used in British and American English


corrupted form of "Christ's wounds"



still used occasionally in British English

2 Analysis of ancient texts

W. Shakespeare, Sonnet 2.

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field, Thy youth's proud livery, so gaz'd on now, Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held. Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies, Where all the treasure of thy lusty days To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes, Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise How much more praise deserv'd thy beauty's use, If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,' Proving his beauty by succession thine!

Thy - your

Brow - forehead, expression (EME, poetic)

Livery - gown; dress; costume; finery (EME, poetic)

So gaz'd on now - here - that I see on you now

Tatter'd - tattered

Of small worth held - of the worst type

Lusty - healthy , strong , vigorous

Thine - your

Thou - you

Couldst - could

When forty winters will besiege your face, and dig deep trenches in your beauty's field, your youth's proud gown, that I see on you now, will become a tattered weed, of the worst type. Then being asked where all your beauty lies, where all the treasure of your vigorous days to say, within your own deep-sunken eyes, were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise How much more praise deserved your beauty's use, If you could answer 'This fair child of mine will sum my count, and make my old excuse,' Proving his beauty by your succession!

An unaware person is unlikely to understand some words in this sonnet. May be someone will assume that this sonnet has an awkward conglomeration of archaic forms. But taking into consideration that it is written by Shakespeare, all the doubts concerning its readability and perceptibility are gone. Here we can easily trace an existence of archaic forms of personal pronouns. The verb form couldst, faintly reminding German word because of its ending -st, attracts reader's attention as well. We can also see words that changed their meanings nowadays. E. g. the word brow means a part of the face - arched line of hair above one's eye, but not the whole face. Word order also differs from Modern English rules of subject-predicative system.

Love and duty reconcil'd by W. Congreve (late 17th c).

Being come to the House, they carried him to his Bed, and hav-ing sent for Surgeons Aurelian rewarded and dismissed the Guard. He stay'd the dressing of Claudio's Wounds, which were many, though they hop'd none Mortal: and leaving him to his Rest, went to give Hippolito an Account of what had happened, whom he found with a Table before him, leaning upon both his Elbows, his Face covered with his Hands, and so motionless, that Aurelian concluded he was asleep; seeing several Papers lie before him, half written and blotted out again, he thought to steal softly to the Table, and discover what he had been employed about. Just as he reach'd forth his Hand to take up one of the Papers, Hippolito started up so on the suddain, as surpriz'd Aurelian and made him leap back; Hippolito, on the oth-er hand, not supposing that any Body had been near him, was so disordered with the Appearance of a Man at his Elbow, (whom his Amaze-ment did not permit him to distinguish) that he leap'd hastily to his Sword, and in turning him about, overthrew the Stand and Can-dles.

Here in this text we still observe the considerable remnants of German language influence - all the nouns are written with a capital latter. Verbal forms diverge from Modern English norms - being come instead of having come, clipping of the letter `e' in the past form of regular verbs by means of apostrophizing etc. Comparing two texts, one - written approximately in 16th century and another - in late 17th, I've made out that English has considerably changed during such a short period of time. It made a long way to its today's analytical system.

3 Archaisms in literature and mass media

Deliberate usage of archaisms

Occasional archaism is always a fault, conscious or unconscious. There are, indeed, a few writers--Lamb is one of them--whose uncompromising terms, 'Love me, love my archaisms', are generally accepted; but they are taking risks that a novice will do well not to take. As to unconscious archaism, it might be thought that such a thing could scarcely exist: to employ unconsciously a word that has been familiar, and is so no longer, can happen to few. Yet charitable readers will believe that in the following sentence demiss has slipped unconsciously from a learned pen:

He perceived that the Liberal ministry had offended certain influential sections by appearing too demiss or too unenterprising in foreign affairs.--Bryce.

The guilt of such peccadilloes as this may be said to vary inversely as the writer's erudition; for in this matter the learned may plead ignorance, where the novice knows too well what he is doing. It is conscious archaism that offends, above all the conscious archaisms of the illiterate: the historian's It should seem, even the essayist's You shall find, is less odious, though not less deliberate, than the ere, oft, aught, thereanent, I wot, I trow, and similar ornaments, with which amateurs are fond of tricking out their sentences. This is only natural. An educated writer's choice falls upon archaisms less hackneyed than the amateur's; he uses them, too, with more discretion, limiting his favourites to a strict allowance, say, of once in three essays. The amateur indulges us with his whole repertoire in a single newspaper letter of twenty or thirty lines, and--what is worse--cannot live up to the splendours of which he is so lavish: charmed with the discovery of some antique order of words, he selects a modern slang phrase to operate upon; he begins a sentence with ofttimes, and ends it with a grammatical blunder; aspires to albeit, and achieves howbeit. This list begins with the educated specimens, but lower down the reader will find several instances of this fatal incongruity of style; fatal, because the culprit proves himself unworthy of what is worthless. For the vilest of trite archaisms has this latent virtue, that it might be worse; to use it, and by using it to make it worse, is to court derision.

A coiner or a smuggler shall get off tolerably well.--Lamb.

The same circumstance may make one person laugh, which shall render another very serious.--Lamb.

You shall hear the same persons say that George Barnwell is very natural, and Othello is very natural.--Lamb.

Don Quixote shall last you a month for breakfast reading.--Spectator.

Take them as they come, you shall find in the common people a surly indifference.--Emerson.

The worst of making a mannerism of this shall is that, after the first two or three times, the reader is certain to see it coming; for its function is nearly always the same--to bring in illustrations of a point already laid down.

Some of us, like Mr. Andrew Lang for instance, cannot away with a person who does not care for Scott or Dickens.--Spectator.

One needs not praise their courage.--Emerson.

What turn things are likely to take if this version be persisted in is a matter for speculation.--Times.

If Mr. Hobhouse's analysis of the vices of popular government be correct, much more would seem to be needed.--Times.

Mr. Bowen has been, not recalled, but ordered to Washington, and will be expected to produce proof, if any he have, of his charges against Mr. Loomis.--Times.

It were futile to attempt to deprive it of its real meaning.--Times.

It were idle to deny that the revolutionary movement in Russia is nowhere followed with keener interest than in this country.--Times.

It were idle to deny that coming immediately after the Tangier demonstration it assumes special and unmistakable significance.--Times.

He is putting poetic 'frills', if the phrase be not too mean, on what is better stated in the prose summary of the argument.--Times.

Regarded as a counter-irritant to slang, archaism is a failure. Frills is ten times more noticeable for the prim and pompous be.

Under them the land is being rapidly frivolled away, and, unless immediate action be taken, the country will be so tied that...--Times.

That will depend a good deal on whether he be shocked by the cynicism of the most veracious of all possible representations...--H. James.

We may not quote the lengthy passage here: it is probably familiar to many readers.--Times.

'We must not'. Similarly, the modern prose English for if I be, it were, is if I am, it would be.

'I have no particular business at L.,' said he; 'I was merely going thither to pass a day or two.'--Borrow.

I am afraid you will hardly be able to ride your horse thither in time to dispose of him.--Borrow.

It will necessitate my recurring thereto in the House of Commons.--Spectator.

The Scottish Free Church had theretofore prided itself upon the rigidity of its orthodoxy.--Bryce.

The special interests of France in Morocco, whereof the recognition by Great Britain and Spain forms the basis of the international agreements concluded last year by the French Government.--Times.

To what extent has any philosophy or any revelation assured us hereof till now?--F. W. H. Myers.

On the concert I need not dwell; the reader would not care to have my impressions thereanent.--C. Brontл.

There, not thither, is the modern form; to it, not thereto; of which, of this, not whereof hereof; till then, or up to that time, not theretofore. So, in the following examples, except, perhaps, before, though; not save, perchance, ere, albeit.

Nobody save an individual in no condition to distinguish a hawk from a handsaw...--Times.

My ignorance as to 'figure of merit' is of no moment save to myself.--Times.

This we obtain by allowing imports to go untaxed save only for revenue purposes.--Spectator.

Who now reads Barry Cornwall or Talfourd save only in connexion with their memorials of the rusty little man in black?--Times.

In my opinion the movements may be attributed to unconscious cerebration, save in those cases in which it is provoked wilfully.--Times.

When Mr. Roosevelt was but barely elected Governor of New York, when Mr. Bryan was once and again by mounting majorities excused from service at the White House, perchance neither correctly forecasted the actual result.--Times.

Dr. Bretton was a cicerone after my own heart; he would take me betimes ere the galleries were filled.--C. Brontл.

He is certainly not cruising on a trade route, or his presence would long ere this have been reported.--Times.

Mr. Shaynor unlocked a drawer, and ere he began to write, took out a meagre bundle of letters.--Kipling.

Fortifications are fixed, immobile defences, and, in time of war, must await the coming of an enemy ere they can exercise their powers of offence.--Times.

'It is something in this fashion', she cried out ere long; 'the man is too romantic and devoted.'--C. Brontл.

Ere departing, however, I determined to stroll about and examine the town.--Borrow.

The use of ere with a gerund is particularly to be avoided.

And that she should force me, by the magic of her pen to mentally acknowledge, albeit with wrath and shame, my own inferiority!--Corelli.

Such things as our modern newspapers chronicle, albeit in different form.--Corelli.

It is thought by experts that there could be no better use of the money, albeit the best American colleges, with perhaps one exception, have very strong staffs of professors at incredibly low salaries.--Times.

'Oxoniensis' approaches them with courage, his thoughts are expressed in plain, unmistakable language, howbeit with the touch of a master hand.--Daily Telegraph.

The writer means albeit; he would have been safer with though.

Living in a coterie, he seems to have read the laudations and not to have noticed aught else.--Times.

Hence, if higher criticism, or aught besides, compels any man to question, say, the historic accuracy of the fall...--Daily Telegraph.

Many a true believer owned not up to his faith.--Daily Telegraph.
The controversy now going on in your columns anent 'Do we believe?' throws a somewhat strange light upon the religion of to-day.--Daily Telegraph.

It is because the world has not accepted the religion of Jesus Christ our Lord, that the world is in the parlous state we see it still.--Daily Telegraph.

A discussion in which well nigh every trade, profession and calling have been represented.--Daily Telegraph.

Why not? Because we have well-nigh bordering on 300 different interpretations of the message Christ bequeathed us.--Daily Telegraph.

It is quite a common thing to see ladies with their hymn-books in their hands, ere returning home from church enter shops and make purchases which might every whit as well have been effected on the Saturday.--Daily Telegraph.

How oft do those who train young minds need to urge the necessity of being in earnest...--Daily Telegraph.

I trow not.--Daily Telegraph.

The clerk, as I conjectured him to be from his appearance, was also commoved; for, sitting opposite to Mr. Morris, that honest gentleman's terror communicated itself to him, though he wotted not why.--Scott.

I should be right glad if the substance could be made known to clergy and ministers of all denominations.--Daily Telegraph.

So sordid are the lives of such natures, who are not only not heroic to their valets and waiting-women, but have neither valets nor waiting-women to be heroic to withal.--Dickens.

Commonly misused archaisms

You who? "Thou", "thee" and "ye"

As most people know, thou, thee and ye all mean "you". But they are not interchangeable, as they are sometimes used. They represent different uses of the pronoun "you".


"You", singular nominative. Used if the "you" addressed is the subject of the sentence. (Thou givest unto me...)


"You", singular accusative. Used if the "you" is the object of the sentence. (I give unto thee...)


"You", plural. Used when addressing a group. (All ye, hear this...)

Because, in modern English, all of those meanings are encompassed in the single word "you", they may be difficult to distinguish. It might be helpful to recall the parallels in a case-formed language such as French (e.g. "tu", "te" and "vous")

Thy place or thine?


"Your", referring to a noun beginning with a consonant. (e.g. Set me as a seal upon thy heart.)

Thine (a) "Your", used in place of "thy" with nouns that begin with a vowel. (e.g. Fetch thine arms and armour.)

(b) "Yours", "that which belongs to you". (e.g. Thou hast what is thine.)

Go hence and fetch him hither!

The hence/hither stable of words seems to cause problems, usually through people not knowing which is which.


"From here", or "from this time". (e.g. The enemy comes! We must fly swiftly hence.)


"To here". (e.g. Bring the wretch hither.)


"From there". (e.g. The mountain rumbled and fire thence issued.)


"To there". (e.g. It had been many years since he had travelled thither.)


"From where", or "from which". (e.g. The rock whence issued the spring.)


"To where". (e.g. Whither do you travel?)

Also note that since the direction of movement (to, from) is already implied in the word, phrases like "from whence" are, strictly speaking, inaccurate, although they have passed into common use.


Means "why". (Not "where".) Probably the most famous usage is in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet asks 'Wherefore art thou Romeo?', meaning "Why are you [named] Romeo?".


The most interesting and at the same time sophisticated process that receives the study of Linguistics is a change of a language in a course of time. Complicated word integrations, appearing and evanescence of words, phraseological units, and grammatical constructions - all this is undividable part of language progress. I can compare archaisms with an echo of ancient times, because they deliver us information about cultural life of previous generations. Archaisms also reflect an inner aspect of people consciousness.

In the process of this research I found out definition of archaism - Archaisms are words which are no longer used in everyday speech, which have been exiled by their synonyms. Archaisms remain in the language, but they are used as stylistic devices to express solemnity. Most of these words are lexical archaisms and they are stylistic synonyms of words which expelled them from the neutral style.

 In language, an archaism is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately (to achieve a specific effect) or as part of a specific jargon (for example in law) or formula (for example in religious contexts). Many nursery rhymes contain archaisms. Archaic elements that only occur in certain fixed expressions are not considered to be archaisms.

I also pointed out main spheres of usage of archaic words - Archaisms are most frequently encountered in poetry, law, and ritual writing and speech. Their deliberate use can be subdivided into literary archaisms, which seeks to evoke the style of older speech and writing; and lexical archaisms, the use of words no longer in common use. Archaisms are kept alive by these ritual and literary uses and by the study of older literature.

Working with Shakespeare's sonnet anв with the text I was imbued with the magnificence of ancient language stylistic figurativeness and expressiveness. I was astonished with the fact of relative readability and understandability, though in the sonnet I stumbled upon misunderstanding - several words were really incomprehensible, but with a help of dictionaries, founts of wisdom, I cleared up the meanings of that words and made a translation. Besides revealing archaisms, I hit upon the thing that shows Germanic origin of the English language.

Usage of archaism in literature I emphasized in the third chapter of my course work. It includes a lot of interesting information about conditions and consequences of usage of archaisms, more over I also decided to point out common misuse of archaisms.

Making a conclusion I assume that all the main objectives of this work were successfully investigated, main aspects were thoroughly examined and acceptable understanding of the notion “archaism” was achieved



H.W. Fowler (1858-1933).  The King's English, 2nd ed.  1908. A COURSE IN MODERN ENGLISH LEXICOLOGY SECOND EDITION R.S. Ginzburg, S. S. Khidekel, G. Y. Knyazeva, A. A. Sankin

Дубенец - Курс лекций по лексикологии английского языка.

Jespersen ,Otto. Growth and Structure of the English Language. Oxford, 1982.

Canon G. Historical Changes and English Wordformation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986.

Burchfield R.W. The English Language. Lnd. ,1985

“A History of English” by Barbara A. Fennell





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