previous next

CONTRACTIONS Er, el, le final dropped

Er, el, and le final dropped or softened, especially before vowels and silent h. 1 The syllable er, as in letter, is easily interchangeable with re, as lettre. In O. E. "bettre" is found for "better." Thus words frequently drop or soften -er; and in like manner -el and -le, especially before a vowel or h in the next word:

(1) “Repórt | should rénd | er him hoúr | ly tó | your eár.” Cymb. iii. 4. 153. “Intó | a góod | ly búlk. | Good tíme | encoúnter her.” W. T. ii. 1. 20. “This létt | er he eár | ly báde | me gíve | his fáther.” R. and J. v. 3. 275. “You'll bé | good cómpany, | my síst | er and yoú.” MIDDLETON, Witch, ii. 2. “Than e'ér | the mást | er of árts | or gív | er of wít.” B. J. Poetast.

(2) “Trável you | far ón, | or áre | you át | the fárthest?” T. of Sh. iv. 2. 73.

(3) “That máde | great Jóve | to húmb | le him tó | her hánd.” Ib. i. 1. 174. “Géntlemen | and friénds, | I thánk | you fór | your páins.” Ib. iii. 2. 186. “I' am | a géntle | man óf | a cóm | paný.” Hen. V. iv. 1. 39, 42.

"Needle," which in Gammer Gurton rhymes with "feele," is often pronounced as a monosyllable. “Deep clerks she dumbs, and with her needle (Folio) composes.” P. of T. v. Gower, 5; Cymb. i. 1. 168. “Or when she would with sharp needle (Folio) wound
The cambric which she made more sound
By hurting it.” P. of T. iv. Gower, 23.

In the latter passage "needle wóund" is certainly harsh, though Gower does bespeak allowance for his verse. Mr. A. J. Ellis suggests "'Id" for "would," which removes the harshness. “And gríp | ing ít | the néedle | his fíng | er pricks.” R. of L. 319. “Their néedles | to lán | ces, ánd | their gént | le héarts.” K. J. v. 2. 157. “To thréad | the póst | ern óf | a smáll | needle's éye.” Rich. II. v. 5. 17.

"Needle's" seems harsh, and it would be more pleasing to modern ears to scan "the póst | ern óf a | small née | dle's éye." But this verse in conjunction with P. of T. iv. Gower, 23, may indicate that "needle" was pronounced as it was sometimes written, very much like "neeld," and the d in "neeld" as in "vild" (vile) may have been scarcely perceptible. “A sámple | to the yoúng | est, tó | the móre | matúre.” Cymb. i. 1. 48. “The cómm | on peóple | by númb | ers swárm | to ús.” 3 Hen. VI. iv. 2. 2; T. A. i. 1. 20.

And, even in the Sonnets: “And troúble | deaf heáv | en wíth | my bóot | less críes.” Sonn. 29. “Uncle Már | cus, sínce | it ís | my fá | ther's mínd.” T. A. v. 3. 1.Duke F. And gét | you fróm | our cóurt. |
Ros. Me, uncle? |
Duke F. You, cóusin?” A. Y. L. i. 3. 44.

1 The same tendency is still more noticeable in E. E. See Essay on the Metres of Chaucer, by the Rev. W. W. Skeat (Aldine Series).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: