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The Second Shepherd's Play (15th. cent, popular drama)

(Excerpts Illustrating the use of Dialects)

[In The Second Shepherd's Play the rascal Mak tries to pretend he is an important messenger from the king, in London, and he attempts to speak in a dialect suitable to one from London. The Shepherds immediately recognize him but he insists on keeping up the pretense. He uses "ich" for the pronoun "I" and and uses the verb ending -th (in goyth and doth) rather than -s as in both modern English and the Northern dialect of Middle English.]

Mak is first heard off stage:

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200







205









210









215

FIRST SHEPHERD:
Who is that pypys so poore?
MAK:
Wold God ye wyst how I foore!
Lo, a man that walkys on the moore,
And has not all his wyll!

SECOND SHEPHERD:
Mak, where has thou gon? Tell us tythyng.
THIRD SHEPHERD:
Is he commen? then ylkon take hede to his thyng.

MAK:
What! ich be a yoman, I tell you, of the king;
The self and the same, sond from a great lordyng,
And sich.
Fy on you! goyth hence
Out of my presence!
I must have reverence;
Why, who be ich?

FIRST SHEPHERD:
Why make ye it so qwaynt? Mak, ye do wrang.

SECOND SHEPHERD:
Bot, Mak, lyst ye saynt? I trow that ye lang.

THIRD SHEPHERD:
I trow the shrew can paynt; the Devyll myght hym hang!

MAK:
Ich shall make complaynt and make you all to thwang
At a worde,
And tell evyn how ye doth.

FIRST SHEPHERD:
Bot, Mak, is that sothe?
Now take outt that sothren tothe,
And sett in a torde!

pypys = pipes up, speaks

foore = fare




tythyng = tidings

ylkon = each one



sond = messenger










saynt = act respectably


paynt = lie


thwang = be flogged








 

 
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Last modified: May, 12, 2000
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Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (ldb@wjh.harvard.edu)