Code Words: Speaking Forsoothly

Dame Aoife offers helpful links for how to sound more medieval when speaking in persona, with a focus on Elizabethan English and Old English and, of course, SCA medieval-oid slang.

Greetings, my Faithful readers!

And welcome back after my "Pennsic Break". This week's Links List is about Speaking Forsoothly. In my opinion there are two ways to do that if you speak the English Language. One is to incorporate aspects of Elizabethan English into your normal speech. The other is to incorporate aspects of Old English (Anglo Saxon). Either way, you'll find plenty of fodder here with which to work. Just for fun, I've included an Anglo-Saxon for Computer Geeks site, in case you want to stupefy your programming friends. For Certes, speech accomplisht in the tongues of our forefathers is not easily taught. Methinks that t'would be best for one to practice amidst one's own friends, as misery and English accents do thrive in company!

Please note that many folks' concept of Forsooth speech includes lots of SCA slang such as Farspeaker (telephone), or Dragon (Car or truck) or Coin of the Realm (either Cash or Chocolate, depending on your location). Therefore, I have included an SCA slang directory for your use.

As always, this information is meant to be shared. Please use it, forward it, and share it where it will find a ready audience.



Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
Riverouge, Barony of the Endless Hills, Aethelemarc

To Speak Forsoothly
(Site Excerpt) As one member, Lord Caius put it, "Tis to speak as would The Bard in his plays. Thou wouldst use the noble tenses of "Thee" and "Thou", rather than the 'gutter' usage of only the familiar tense of "you". Gentles who can speak true "forsooth" are much admired, but rare."

Talking Forsoothly (If you must)
(Site Excerpt) If thou followest this rule, which hath the advantage of being laid out simply for thee here, thou needest no other silliness, and thou canst speak more "forsoothly" than thou thoughtst was in thy power. There is more to it than this, and I could go on for hours, but this is the bulk of what I think people mean when they talk about this, and if thou only do this much thou art probably most of the way there. Me, I avoid this sort of silliness like the plague, but if you must do it, I hope you can at least do it right.

Life in Elizabethan England: Language: Idiomatic Idiosyncrasies
(Site Excerpt) When we refer to 'corn', we are referring, mainly, to barley. If not barley, then it is whatever the major grain crop in the region is (rye is common). It is never corn-on-the-cob or maize. Englishmen speak of living in a particular street instead of on it. Shakespeare lived for a time in a house in Silver Street, or one knows a tailor with a shop in the High Street.

Forsoothly Speaking--Cecily of Wivanhoe
(Site Excerpt) "Wanna go for a walk?" can become "Mi'lady, wouldst thou (or even just 'would you') do me the honor of accompanying me to the feast hall?" or "How's your mom?" can become "How fares your lady mother?"

Learn Ye to Speak and Write in All Proper "Forsoothliness"
by Ognyen
(Site Excerpt) O.K. we shall cover possessive pronouns: my, mine, thy, thine and throw in a and an since they follow the same rules. [highly condensed and re-worded] My, thy and a precede words which begin with consonants (except H). Mine, thine and an precede words beginning with vowels and H. There are many examples which I'll not mention here. Exceptions can be found to this rule. Quick examples: That horse is an ugly nag; the ugly nag is thine. Thy locks are like hanging sphagnum moss; wash thou thine hair.

Speaking Forsoothly for Newcomers
By Justinian Clarus of Ealdormere
(Site Excerpt) There are two primary influences which influence our perceptions of what we expect Speaking Forsoothly to sound like.First consider this wee bit of poetry:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

West Kingdom College of Heralds on A List of Alternative Wordings
(Site Excerpt) These words are listed in random order -- partially because we wrote them down as we thought of them, and partially because we don't want you to use this section as a "dictionary". Instead read through it without trying to memorize it, and use it to inspire and guide you. We know the list isn't complete -- please send in your ideas for inclusion in later editions. Feel free to send both "problem" words and other alternates for the words given here.

The Dictionary of SCA Slang
by Ioseph of Loxley
(Site Excerpt) This is by no means a complete list of slang terms used in the SCA, nor do I pretend that all of these terms are used everywhere in the Known Worlde, but these are the ones I have found so far.

Forum on Forsooth Speaking
--HL Goldith D'Arcy
(Site Excerpt) I have to admit I have never - not once - run into anyone who attended an event entirely in persona. I also have to admit this is something I was hoping for when I joined the SCA. It's hard to do alone, but in a group it's contagious, and it can indeed transform a campground into a medieval village where modern thoughts simply do not intrude. Before joining the SCA, I volunteered several years at a Renaissance fair near Carnation, Wash., where participants were required to have a persona and attempt "forsooth" speech. It was a riot. It was relaxing and invigorating. After a half hour of feeling silly about "thou" and "thee," it was also a lot of fun. Because everyone was on equal footing and struggling together, we stopping worrying about how we sounded.

The English Language-Anglos Saxon Glossary
(Site Excerpt)
anforlætan; forlætan; ofgiefan
abbudisse, f.
abbod, m.

Circolwyrde Wordhord (English to AngloSaxon Thesaurus for Computer users)
(Site Excerpt)

swegdropa (m)
bells and whistles
belle and hwistle (fpl)
beta release
unfulfremedbrytnung (f)
twirimlic (adj)
lytelbita (m)
æstel (m)

Omniglot: Old English/Anglo Saxon
(Site Excerpt) Old English was the Germanic language spoken in the area now known as England between the 5th and 11th centuries. Old English began to appear in writing during the early 8th century. Most texts were written in West Saxon, one of the four main dialects. The other dialects were Mercian, Northumbrian and Kentish.

Hwæt! Old English in Context
(sample text with sound files)
(Site Excerpt) Hwæt! This is the first word of Beowulf, where translators render it variously as Lo, Listen, Hear me, and Yes. There is in fact no translation equivalent in Modern English, and using a dictionary isn't much help. To understand this word, you must see how it is used in a number of contexts: i.e., in Old English texts. It is the premise of the present book that all words in another language ought to be learned in context, and that they can be learned in this way. Hwæt! (the electronic book) is designed for those who would like to learn some basic Old English without having to hold a grammar book in one hand and a dictionary in the other.

Old English Aloud: Readings of Old English Poetry
(Site Excerpt) Old English poetry was meant to be declaimed aloud before an audience, the poet, or Scop, being both a creative and a performing artist. Accompanied by harp he would entertain the guests of his patron with tales of past deeds, battles of old and the prowess of his lord's ancestors. In this manner was history kept alive for the Anglo-Saxons.

Please take down Politarchopolis link

Hi - can you take down the Politarchopolis link?  I still get people asking about it.  The original author wasn't pleased with the version of his/her article and asked that it be taken down.  Personally, I think "speaking forsoothly" is an abomination (see your second link!) but if people want to do it, they should do it properly.