Read A Shakespearian Grammar: An Attempt to Illustrate Some of the Differences Between Elizabethan and Modern English by Edwin A. Abbott Free Online
Book Title: A Shakespearian Grammar: An Attempt to Illustrate Some of the Differences Between Elizabethan and Modern English|
The author of the book: Edwin A. Abbott
Edition: University Press of the Pacific
Date of issue: September 1st 2004
Loaded: 2317 times
Reader ratings: 7.9
ISBN 13: 9781410216779
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.30 MB
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Anyone trying to read Shakespeare or watch the plays should read the Introduction to this book, which explains the general reasons for the differences between Elizabethan and modern (i.e. Victorian) English. The body of the book is very detailed, and would interest someone with an interest in language rather than the general reader. Since Elizabethan English is transitional between Middle English (Abbott uses the term Early English, and Anglo-Saxon for Old English) and the modern language, the book often shows the evolution from one to the other through Shakespeare's English, rather than just dealing with the English of Shakespeare's time.
I found some of the explanations fascinating, such as the origins of the prepositions, conjunctions and common adverbs (for example, "also" from all+so, an emphatic form of "so", which explains why it can mean "too" in English and "thus" in German; "much", "more" and "most" from mo+ch, mo+er and mo+est, great, greater, and greatest in quantity; "than" and "then" as different case forms of "that", originally used just the opposite of the way they are now). The book is arranged alphabetically by parts of speech, from adverbs to verbs; then ends with a discussion of Shakespeare's prosody. Each section is illustrated by quotations, mostly from Shakespeare but also from other Elizabethan writers such as Ben Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher.
The book is in the tradition of classical philology, written before modern linguistics, so some things I am sure would be explained a little differently today. It was intended for High School students (!) and assumes that they will have a better knowledge of Greek and Latin grammar than of English grammar -- in fact, he begins with a defense of taking time out from the study of those languages for mere English (essentially, he claims knowing English grammar will help students to understand Latin better.) Some of the Elizabethan forms he discusses seem quite normal to me -- probably because American English has retained some Shakepearian constructions which have changed in British English.
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Read information about the authorFrom Biography Base:
Edwin Abbott Abbott, English schoolmaster and theologian, is best known as the author of the mathematical satire Flatland (1884).
He was educated at the City of London School and at St John's College, Cambridge, where he took the highest honours in classics, mathematics and theology, and became fellow of his college. In 1862 he took orders. After holding masterships at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and at Clifton College, he succeeded G. F. Mortimer as headmaster of the City of London School in 1865 at the early age of twenty-six. He was Hulsean lecturer in 1876.
He retired in 1889, and devoted himself to literary and theological pursuits. Dr. Abbott's liberal inclinations in theology were prominent both in his educational views and in his books. His Shakespearian Grammar (1870) is a permanent contribution to English philology. In 1885 he published a life of Francis Bacon. His theological writings include three anonymously published religious romances - Philochristus (1878), Onesimus (1882), and Sitanus (1906).
More weighty contributions are the anonymous theological discussion The Kernel and the Husk (1886), Philomythus (1891), his book The Anglican Career of Cardinal Newman (1892), and his article "The Gospels" in the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, embodying a critical view which caused considerable stir in the English theological world. He also wrote St Thomas of Canterbury, his Death and Miracles (1898), Johannine Vocabulary (1905), Johannine Grammar (1906). Flatland was published in 1884.
Sources that say he is the brother of Evelyn Abbott (1843 - 1901), who was a well-known tutor of Balliol College, Oxford, and author of a scholarly history of Greece, are in error.