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Methinketh

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Essorant
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since 08-10-2002
Posts 4689
Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


0 posted 02-09-2004 02:41 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Have you ever felt doubtful about phrases like "methinks" and "woe is me!"?
I know I had previously whenever I came across them in texts.  For some reason no one ever clarified to me how they were gramatically correct; but I gave the masters like Chaucer and Shakespeare the benefit of the doubt; until I noticed this sort of phrases basically comes from a very simple mannerism.


First one must note "methinketh" is not the same as "I think" or "thou thinkest" or "she thinketh"

It has a verb with eth/s on the end which marks third person (present); but me is first person and in "dative" case ( fitting into a phrase as " Gives  _____ )  

Therefore any in dative may be used (and in past tense):


Present                    Past
    
             singular        

methinketh                 Methought
theethinketh               Theethought
him/her/it thinketh        Him/her/it thought

             Plural

usthinketh                 Usthought
youthinketh                Youthought
themthinketh               Themthought


So though "methinks" is the most famously used, you may use any pronoun from the family of dative pronouns  

And then we must note for sure that "think" in "methinks" does not mean "reason, contemplate, or ponder!"

Old English has two very similar shaped verbs: (­ = th)

­yncan --to seem

and

­encan - to reason, consider

Both somehow managed to become "think"  but in "methinks" only "seems" works right.
So you may come across "meseems/meseemeth" as well, that is more unconfused!

The last point is simply this, which makes the grammatical correctness more understandable. "methinks" as well as "woe is me" simply come from a manner of omitting "to" (and/or "it" and somtimes other bit and pieces) but most may translate as ommiting "to" or "it"

"Methinks"

        (To) me (it) thinks/seems

"Woe is Me"

        Woe is (to) me; Woe (it) is (to) me.
        

"Him liketh"

        him (it) liketh ["pleases"]

"Me is the name Essorant"
        (to) Me is the name Essorant


"Us are blessings"
        (to) Us are blessings.


  
 
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