Early Modern English

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Thu Jan 12 19:13:44 CET 2012

John Cowan <cowan at mercury dot ccil dot org> wrote:

> Michael Everson scripsit:
>> I'm not much tempted by "en-emode" as a tag. Cawdry or another
>> description would be more interesting.
> Cawdrey's work is a glossary, as Doug noted. And your "interesting"
> is my "obscure".

I agree with John. There are descriptive reference works, but as usual
with English, there is no authority (individual or institutional) that
absolutely defines any stage of English development or legitimacy.
If we were required to use a person's name to describe EModE, which I
didn't think we were, the vast majority of tag users would probably
think of Shakespeare or other writers long before Cawdrey.

Michael replied:

> Fine. I think "emode" is a bad subtag. It looks like "e-mode".

I agree with the last sentence at least.

> It is redundant in that its final -e is captured in en-emode.

But we can't use 'emod' or 'earlymod' or such, because it's already been
pointed out here that variants can, strictly speaking, be used with any
prefix, not just the listed one(s), and even though the Description
field says "Early Modern English", that wouldn't prevent a misguided
person from taking a generic-sounding variant subtag and trying to
repurpose it for Early Modern Italian or Early Modern Nomatsiguenga or

> Doug, please look at the precedent we used for early French. Thank
> you.

We used the year of a reference work, thought to be representative,
followed by its author or publisher. If we have to go that route for
English, I'll try. Maybe 'shak1623' for the date of Shakespeare's First
Folio would have to do, but this might imply wrongly that the subtag
begins and ends with Shakespeare, and might also prove confusing since
his works are often respelled for modern audiences.

What I liked about 'emode' was that it's already the abbreviation widely
used and recognized for this fairly well-defined language variety.

I assume there is no controversy at this point over the entity to be
tagged, only the subtag value.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA | RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14
www.ewellic.org | www.facebook.com/doug.ewell | @DougEwell

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