21 June 2013

18th Century Dialect

One aspect of the 18th century that I struggle with is the dialect, how exactly did people speak? Since spelling was not conventionalized, a little research can help answer this question.

Below I've listed some "vocab words" that help show (shew?) the mid 18th century dialect that might have been common in southern New England. (On the right is the modern spelling and the left is the 18th century spelling.)

Ancient - Antient
Choice - Choise 
Choose - Chuse
Choosing - Chusing
Concerning - Conserning 
Dropped - Dropt
Entirely - Intirely
Fearful - Fereful
Hazard - Haszard
Health - Helth
Indian - Indine
Joined - Joyned
Major - Majior
Many - Meny
People - Peopel
Showed - Shewed
Spoke - Spake
Their - Thire
Thursday - Thursdy
Told - Tould
Touro (as in Touro Street) -  Tauro
Triple - Treble
Vicious - Visious

These examples are from The Literary Diary of Eztra Stiles Volume 1. If you're wondering who Ezra Stiles was, here are a few sources to learn more about his life...
 Miniature portrait of The Reverend Dr. Ezra Stiles c.1770
Metropolitan Museum of Art Accession Number 68.222.26

A photograph of Ezra Stiles home on Clark Street in Newport, RI
Newport Historical Society Catalog Number P8866

1 comment:

  1. What a great list!

    I particularly love a letter from John Brown to his daughter Sally, in which he writes that her sister Abby is helping "your Mar bake pyes." There's the local floating 'R' sound, written out. It persists; my friend from Greenville says "drawring," for drawing, when she is tired.


Your feedback is appreciated. :)