Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Alden Bitteroot, I accuseth thee of beingeth a witch! ...Eth."

Timmy Turner, The Fairly OddParents

Be the tale set in 1300s Scotland or 1840s Cardiff, appropriately "old-fashioned" English shalt be based on the archaic King James Bible. The formula is simple: addeth "-eth" and "-est" to random verbs, scattereth silent Es like the leaves of autumne, bandyeth about the words "thee", "thou", "thine", "doth", "hast", and "forsooth", reverseth every other occasion thine noun-verb order, and strewth, thou doth be the next Billy Shakespeare!

Yea verily, this doth makest the characters soundeth like idiots complete to any viewer that possesseth pon a verse of uni degree... especially if it goest on for long passages.[1]

This sort of faux-Shakespearian writing is popularly called "Old English". Though it's not. (See Useful Notes: History of English.) More scholarly types may call it "tushery", because of the tendency to use archaic words like "tush".

The silent "e" is somewhat Truth in Television, as after the Great Vowel Shift but before the mid-18th century, there was chaos in spelling, there being no official standards, and the pronunciations no longer being a guide. Words could be spelled however the author felt like spelling them, which is where we get quotes like "...bicauſe noe .2. thynges, can be moare equalle."

"Ye," when contextually meaning "the" and not "you," is actually pronounced, "the." The y stands in for the symbol "Þ" that once represented the th sounds (and looks like a "p" with the line extending up as well as down, if for some reason your browser doesn't render it here).

It can be difficult to find any examples of early modern English used correctly in TV or movies (though please do note any particularly wretched examples you run across).

If the issue is simply that the characters are not ones one might expect to be speaking something like Middle English, it may be simply Flowery Elizabethan English. Magick also makes frequent use of Butchered Englishe. Often combined with Hollywood Apocrypha. Compare Canis Latinicus, Antiquated Linguistics, Law of Alien Names and Talk Like a Pirate. Can cause some Fridge Logic when you realise the characters wouldn't actually be speaking English anyway.

A quick reference to medieval pronouns:

Forsooth, looke uponn these yonder Examples:

Play'd Moste Straighte & Seriouflie

Divers and Sundry Topicks

  • One particularly pervasive example appears in the title of this article: the substitution of "ye" for "the". No speaker of early Modern English would do this, as it derives entirely from the fact that the Anglo-Saxon letter "thorn" (Þ) was used to render "th" in writing at the time,[2] and in some fonts (especially blackletter), it looks very much like a "y". Since the patent on printing presses was German, and England's earliest printers imported types from the Netherlands, the presses lacked the Anglo-Saxon letter, and "y" was substituted instead. Don't confuse this with the second person plural pronoun "ye," meaning "you," as in "Gather round, ye lads and lassies," which is a different word entirely and is pronounced as written.
  • Similarly, in the English-speaking world until the early 19th century, the letter "s", at the beginning or middle of a syllable, was written as a long "s": ſ, or, in case your computer can't see this symbol, something which amounts to an f minus the cross-stroke. (It, like the f, is often even longer, descending below the line like a p or y as well as extending above it.) The character ß (Eszett or sharp "s") in modern German (pronounced and sometimes written "ss") originated as a ligature of ſz. In addition, the integral symbol and the IPA letter esh (representing the "sh" sound) were both derived from the italic version of ſ and look nearly identical.[3]
    • Ever read a book that used the ſ ? After a while you begin to imagine the text sounding like Sylvester the Cat.
    • "And he shall be thy succour!"
    • Arguably, the similarity of 'ſ' and 'f' might have been lampshaded by contemporary poet John Donne; "Mark but this flea, and mark in this, / How little that which thou deniest me is; / Me it ſucked first, and now ſucks thee..." Of course, anyone reading it at the time would have realised that it was an 's' sound, but when you consider that the entire poem uses the flea as a metaphor for the narrator convincing his paramour to have sex with him...
  • Don't expect anyone to correctly distinguish thou art/wast from thou beest/wert. (The former pair are in the indicative mood, whereas the latter are in the subjunctive.)
  • Referring to someone higher on the social ladder as thou or thee. Thou was the equivalent of in Spanish, tu in French, or du in German: second person familiar address, to be used with intimates or social inferiors. Basically, saying "thou" is like addressing someone by their first name, saying "you" is like addressing them by last name.
    • Truthfully, though, this really depends on the period. The use of "ye" or "you" as a formal second person pronoun originated in the mid-15th century; prior to this, there was no distinction between formal and familiar address. Thou was the singular pronoun, and ye/you was the plural. By the mid-18th century, you had supplanted thou entirely as the sole second-person pronoun for all situations. So for a work set around Shakespeare's time, you should use thou only for familiar address. For one set in pre-Renaissance times, thou should be used only as a singular pronoun, and you/ye solely as a plural pronoun. And for one set in the 19th or late 18th century, thou shouldn't be used at all in everyday speech.
    • Later on in time "thou" got the connotation of being solemn and respectful, thanks to its being used in older literary works like the Bible and Shakespeare. Stuff like calling God "thou" in prayer as a "term of respect" isn't exactly wrong, since the tradition of doing so is itself now hundreds of years old, but it's not an authentic reflection of what "thou" used to mean back in the actual Middle Ages. "Thou" was passing out of use even when the King James Bible was written and the translators mostly used "thou" in order to be authentic to the original Hebrew and Greek texts (which always distinguish between singular and plural pronouns) rather than to propagate any specific "respectful language" for talking to God.
    • Quakers notoriously adopted use of "thee" as a pronoun as part of their tradition of "plainspeaking", in order to make the point that they eschewed all forms of flowery respectful formal speech, even ones that were centuries old and no one thought of as "respectful" anymore like addressing people as "you". The unkind stereotype, of course, is that since they started doing this in the 18th century long after "thou" had passed out of common use they did so incorrectly -- "Quaker speech" stereotypically just uses "thee" all the time without regard for nominative or objective case.

Yon Litteratturre

  • Fantasy novels can be especially bad with this. The Inheritance Cycle tends to have "yea" and "thou art" thrown in with what is normal, modern English, with no reason and to no end.
    • Not to mention the annoying usage of "mine (subject)" by the dwarves, which is used even when the (subject) begins with a consonant.[4]
      • Though this could be dialectical rather than unintentionally butchered English.
    • One phrase that encapsulates this tendency in the Inheritance Cycle is "you and thine dragon".
    • In the early days of MMORPGs (especially in Ultima Online), the fastest way to identify newbies was to see if they talked like this.
    • Or roleplayers. Generally, though, the only roleplayers who actually talk in "Shakespeare speech" are newbies who don't know any better or Trolls making fun of them.
  • Played for Laughs in Good Omens.
    • Each and every medieval character's dialogue gets a large dose. For example:

"It is a licence to printe monney!" said Master Bilton to Master Scaggs. "The public are crying out for such rubbishe! We must straightway printe a booke of prophecie by some hagge!"

    • Of course, who could forget the typesetter's "error" in the Buggre Alle This Bible?

Buggre Alle this for a Larke. I amme sick to mye Hart of typefettinge. Master Biltonn if no Gentelmann, and Master Scagges noe more than a tighte fisted Southwarke Knobbefticke. I telle you, onne a daye laike thif Ennywone withe half an oz of Sense shoulde bee oute in the Sunneshain, ane nott Stucke here alle the liuelong daie inn thif mowldey olde By-Our-Lady Workefhoppe. @ *Ӯ@;!*

  • In the Redwall series, some characters who are aristocrats in their respective societies or are at least nominally conservative have a very archaic way with words.
  • Older Than Steam: Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, from circa 1590, contains certain features (such as the "y-" past participle prefix), used with varying degrees of success, that hadn't been current for about 200 years.
  • Natives of The Secret Country use a tolerable form of this, including "likes" for "pleases", "a" for "he or she" and "an" for "if". Interestingly, the author manages to vary it to less and more formal depending on the situation, and includes a described language that English-speaking visitors from modern Earth find maddening because they almost understand it; no examples are given, but it might be a form of Old (not Middle) English.
  • David Wellington's short story Pinecones, set in 1587 Roanoke, provides what would have been a reasonably accurate depiction of fifteenth-century English (that is to say, English of the 1400s.) Of note is this rendition of The Lord's Prayer:

"Our father which art in heuen, hallowed be thy name. Let thy kingdome cum unto us. Thy wyll be fulfylled as well in erthe, as it is in heuen. & lede vs nat in to temtacyon. But delyuer vs from euyll. So be it.

  • Used in Traitor General to represent the old, proto-Low Gothic language used by the Nihtganes. Although there, it was a combination of normal Butcherede Englishe, random "misspellings" that make everything look like it's weirdly pronounced and some words that Abnett just plain made up.
  • The short story "Ezekiel" by Desmond Warzel also takes place in 1587 Roanoke. The English is, at least approximately, accurate for its time, mimicking in style other primary documents from that colony.
  • Appears in some works of David Eddings - and almost immediately afterwords someone else present will comment on how silly the person using it sounds.
  • Thomas Chatterton (1752 - 1770, yes, he died that young) was a Teen Genius famous for publishing the poems of one Thomas Rowley, a monk who, according to his claims, lived in the 15th century and left behind a legacy of manuscript ballads (these were, of course, a hoax and Chatterton's own creation). They were written in "Middle English" which mostly consisted of writing normal English words in mock-archaic orthography with little consistency ("dead" could be written as "dedde", "ded", "dedd", etc.), with a couple of archaisms and dialect words thrown in. When the hoax was discovered, the poor youth was laughed out of literary circles and Driven to Suicide.
  • In Cervantes' Don Quixote, the protagonist often, but not always, speaks in mock-medieval Spanish, imitating the intentionally archaic language of chivalric romances.
  • A couple of the older characters (the Fae, a couple vamps, etc) use this in The Dresden Files. Thankfully, it's used sparingly.

Lyve Actionne Tellevisionne

  • Behind Mr. Bumble in the workhouse/orphanage in PBS's 2009 dramatization of Oliver Twist on Masterpiece Theatre, just before Oliver approaches to say "Please sir, I want some more," we see in capitalized foot-high lettering painted on the wall, "GOD SEEST THOU" rather than "GOD SEETH THEE."
    • In fact, "GOD SEEST THOU" would mean "YOU SEE GOD" (with a very peculiar word ordering) rather than "GOD SEES YOU".
  • Star Trek misuses archaic English in "Amok Time". Writer Theodore Sturgeon apparently wanted to show that the Vulcan language, or at least an older form of it, had separate second-person singular and plural forms (as French does with "tu" and "vous"). They showed this by using the archaic second-person familiar pronoun "thee" for "you". But T'Pau, the one character to use these formal archaisms, used "thee" even when "thou" would have been the correct word. Even if Vulcan used the same word for both pronouns (as modern English does with "you"), the translator should have been programmed to recognize the difference between subjective and objective pronouns. As it was, formal Vulcan as rendered by Celia Lovsky sounded more like Quaker 'plain speech'.
    • If thou art the subject of a sentence then the object of the sentence wouldst be thee.
  • Hot in Cleveland presents a horrifying example, wherein Amish folk are shown to speak the most awfully butchered Olde English imaginable. Made worse because the Amish were originally German so why are they speaking an archaic version of English?
  • In the miniseries, Shogun, every time Blackthorne waxes romantic over his Japanese interpreter, he falls into this. "I say thou art beautiful, and I love thee!" This is meant to show by Translation Convention that he is speaking Latin, a language that few Japanese people know. The novel makes it somewhat clearer.
  • Used by Adam Savage on MythBusters as a running joke involving medieval myths and legends.

"It turns out that 'ye olde' techniques take 'ye olde' sweet time.

Yon Theatre

  • The 1970s musical Godspell has many lines and songs written in this way. That's because much of the dialogue is taken straight from The Bible, and many of the songs are pop/rock settings of older hymns—and the hymns' language was often archaic even when they were written.

Fanne Workes

  • Odious Twilight fan fic Forbidden Fruit depicts Edward Cullen speaking in horribly butchered pseudo-Elizabethan English (liberally sprinkled with the author's own native 'txt mssg!' language) presumably to lend him a sense of old-fashioned grandeur. Author seems unaware that Edward was born in America in the early 1900's and doesn't speak like this. As it really does need to be seen to be believed, here's an excerpt:

"OMG SWEET LADY!! THY MUST NOT TELL ANYONE! " he screamed "it was a moment of madness thats all!! Im so so sorry for watt happened,i hope thine can forgive me, but ive promised myself to bella and thats just how it is, no matter how much thou intrests me!"

  • Vloxemort from My Immortal also speaks like this, and it makes about as much sense as the above example. Of course, this is My Immortal, so it's to be expected.

"I hath telekinesis!"

    • Though, this particular example could be a genuine spelling error, given the massive amounts of them throughout the fanfic as a whole.
  • Mocked in the Compelled series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanction, especially when several characters begin talking like this just to annoy Buffy who was complaining about their foul language. She quickly decides she's better off with the foul language.
  • Go find a Shakespeare fanfiction that isn't "modern-language" or "modern AU". It will almost definitely be this. Same goes for Shakespeare-based school assignments.
  • Madara/Madra/Madora/whatever in Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, typically by putting "eth" at the end of verbs and using "thou" or some variant thereof for "you" (""hOW ISETH THY ALIVETH! THOU SHULDETH BE DEAD!"). In an explanation that perhaps makes it make even less sense, it's suggested that he traveled back to the 1800s and started speaking this way while there.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfictions written after Princess Luna's return in 'Luna Eclipsed' have sprouted this at times. Luna herself used archaic forms with some accuracy, and had a decent reason for it. Fan writers who have not visited this page ... not as much.
    • Taken Up to Eleven for better or worse in works set before or during the time of Nightmare Moon/Discord, where writers are forced to apply this to everypony.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX fanfic "Jaden Without A Cause," Jack, a Wicked Cultured gas station owner says this while raping, torturing and ultimately killing Jaden

Jack: "Thy redemption is for vain, unless thou are willing to avouch that ye are ready to undergo the most deuced part of this ancient attendant's ritual! Do ye accept, ye caitiff little fool?"


"Fucketh me!"

  • The characters who speak in this archaic English in Disney's Hocus Pocus are the Sanderson Sisters, Thackery and Emily Binx, and the rest of the Salem townsfolk in 1693.
    • Played with on the bus:

Sarah: Thou wouldst hate me in the morning.
Bus Driver: No I wouldn'st!

Ye Manga and Ye Anime

  • The anime Romeo X Juliet was dubbed in English using this technique.
  • In the Inuyasha English dub, Kaede speaks absolutely normally except for replacing you with "ye." It's made even stranger by the fact that other people from her era don't do it. Other old people from her era don't do it. Other old Shrine Maidens from her era don't do it.
    • In the very first episode, a few villagers also used heavy "old English". By the next episode this was conspicuously absent; it's likely the dubbers realized quickly it was either too much work, test audiences responded negatively, or the silliness of the second episode made it unneeded.
    • Especially strained in the first episode was this line where one villager is wondering if they'd have done better against Lady Centipede than Inuyasha:

Villager: Lady Kaede, methinks mayhap that we might have chanced the centipede.

  • The Viz translation of Ooku, applies this quite liberally in rendering the old-fashioned Japanese of the original, with the effect of obscuring plot-relevant dialectical differences.
  • The English dub of (and in the English subtitles of the Japanese version on the DVD)Sekirei has Tsukiumi talk like this, most likely as a way of translating her formal Japanese. When she says "Have at thee, villain!", though, it's hard not to imagine her being Thor's Distaff Counterpart.
  • In fan translations of the Yu Yu Hakusho manga, as well as the subs on the Funimation DVDs, a woman from 700 years ago whom Raizen met and fell in love with talks this way.
  • The official English translation of the Trinity Blood manga has all the upper-class vampires speaking like this. Since they're all hundreds of years old and incredibly posh, it's implied that that's why they do it...but it makes little sense, since they're not actually English, their Empress (who's much older than her subjects) and her brother Abel don't speak like it, and as the whole thing takes place After the End, it's not sure how they'd know anything about Medieval English. It becomes quite annoying when dramatic scenes are sprinkled with lots of "dost thou"'s and "didst"'s.
  • Many fan translations of Himari's extremely formal speech in Omamori Himari have her use this.
  • One of the alien yokai from Gantz during the Nurarihyon Alien mission speaks this way


  • Many metal bands try to use archaic English in their lyrics because it sounds cool. Most fail badly.
    • Bal-Sagoth spam "thou" regardless of number and "thine" regardless of what the next letter is.
    • Nile spam the "-eth" ending without regard for person and number.
    • Arcturus makes a brave attempt with the song "To Thou Who Dwellest in the Night". Alas, it falls flat already in the title. ("To thou" is a hypercorrection. It should be "to thee".)
    • "I shalt", "thou shalt", "he/she/it shalt", "we shalt", "ye shalt", "they shalt." Only one of these is correct, but Cradle of Filth will happily use the other five anyway.
    • At least Stormwarrior keeps it to the titles and liner notes in Heading Northe.
  • Oddly enough, so do many churches, with a largely similar failure rate. It's fine when you're singing a hymn that was indeed written in that era, but all too often, churches either (1) convert part of the archaic English, but not all of it, to modern English, or (2) insert archaic English in a modern song.
    • A typical, fairly mild example: "You alone are my heart's desire / And I long to worship thee." Not really ungrammatical, but weird nonetheless.
      • Strangely enough, Martin Nystrom's original word was "you." However, the original first lines were "As the deer panteth for the water / So my soul longeth after you."
  • Used properly (albeit archaically) by Stan Rogers in "Harris and the Mare," with the line "Harris, fetch thy mare and take us home."
  • Upside Down by Diana Ross features the infamous line "Respectfully I say to thee"
  • Edguy's "Robin Hood" features Tobias Sammet telling everyone to "bewareth."

Ye Gameſ of Yon Video

  • Dragon's Dogma is probably the worst offender for this trope. Nearly every line is delivered in some sort of butchered pseudo-Shakespearean dialect that confuses some to the point of actually requiring translation. Of course, the developers seemed to be aware of this to a degree and actually had quest-essential dialogue written and delivered in as near to modern English as possible, albeit with a few "olde"-sounding words chucked in for good measure.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption makes extensive use of this trope: all these thou's and thee's can easily make your head spin - but only before you realize that it actually sounds fun. It is curious, however, that the game (first half anyway) takes place in medieval Prague and Vienna.
  • Vagrant Story actually quite thoroughly subverts this. Although the script is in old english, it's rather moderate and tame compared to what one would suspect from translation attempts of the time period.
  • In evidence in the Bestiary on the official Final Fantasy XIV site.
  • Dynaheir in Baldur's Gate. Ye gods, Dynaheir in Baldur's Gate. Her death before the start of Baldurs Gate II was no doubt cause for much rejoicing among anyone who can even remotely speak English. Among other things, she used "thy" as an all-around 2nd person pronoun, and "thee" for a 1st person pronoun! All this despite being some kind of cultural mashup of Middle Eastern and Russian, or something like that.
  • In the Ultima series, Britannians use "thee/thou/thine" everywhere, and occasionally add "art" and "hast," but otherwise speak in a modern style. On the plus side, it's at least internally consistent.
    • In Ultima Underworld II, at one point the game itself lapses into this manner of speech: after successfully training lockpicking with Julia, a message informs you that "She briefly tutors thee on lockpicking." Elsewhere, it just refers to you as "you".
    • In Ultima 7 the Guardian speaks using modern (or rather Earth) English, which helps reinforce the feeling he is from another world. Curiously, he starts speaking like other Britannians in later games.
  • The original English versions (later translations removed this) of the first two Dragon Quest games had not only all of the characters speak pseudo-Early Modern English, but the "narrator" in the game's user interface. Similarly, the names of characters and locations were changed to names either relating to Arthurian legend or fitting the tone of the game.

The Slime attacks! Thy hit(s) have decreased by 1.

    • They had to drop it in III and IV because those games take place across the globe rather than being in one territory. Plus, try to imagine Manya/Mara/Maya talking like a person from The Bible...
  • In the original translation of the Squaresoft game Chrono Trigger, the character Frog, born in the "Middle Ages", spoke this way. For some reason or other, he was the only one given such ridiculous lines, despite the Middle Ages having hundreds of other, un-butchered lines of dialogue, and Frog himself talking normally in flashbacks to when he was just Glenn. However, this trope has been averted in the new, improved translation used for the Nintendo DS port, where he's merely a bit formal.

Frog: "Awaketh, Chrono!"

  • Cyan in Final Fantasy VI talks the same way, making grievous errors like "I art" (though in Cyan's case he spoke in faux-historic Japanese in the Japanese version as well).
    • Ingus, from the DS version of Final Fantasy III also does this kind of thing occasionally. No one else talks this way.
    • Happens in Final Fantasy VIII if you go to fight Odin. "The Heavens hath decreed thy fate".
  • Yoshimitsu of Soul Calibur speaks in terribly mangled Shakespearean English that completely ignores proper declension ("-est" being applied to third person verbs, for instance) and seems to gain and lose "Olde English" features at random. In his more pretentious moments, his diction tends to take on aspects of Delusions of Eloquence as well.
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume uses a decidedly 'old' flavor of speech, but achieves this primarily through the use of archaic (but legitimate) grammar structures, and the occasional uncommon word like "unto."
  • The Great Deku Tree in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time speaks in this. While it seems accurate enough to let pass, it's a bit odd that he's the only person in the entire game to talk like that.
    • Like the Elminster example above, it could have something to do with the Deku Tree's age.
      • The Tree's archaic dialogue style is roughly equivalent to the difference between how he speaks in the original Japanese compared to other characters in the game.
    • It should be mentioned, that Great Deku Tree II, appearing in the second half of Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker does not speak like this, despite retaining Great Deku Tree I's memories and personality.
  • All chat messages in Team Fortress 2's Medieval Mode get filtered into this.
  • Luna in Tales of Symphonia.
  • Happens in the Medieval stages of the NES game Day Dreamin' Davey.
  • Several characters in Dark Souls speak at least the occasional bout of this, even the Hulk Speak using Giant Blacksmith.
  • In Persona 3, newly fused Personae will either speak like this or in modern English with No Indoor Voice.

Webbe Comicſ

  • In Drowtales daydream's sidestory Vel'cahal, they all speak this way because the setting is based around 1000 years before the main comic. However it gets terrible when the high queen summons an even more ancient sentient aura.

Sharess: Thou hast much to answer for, Reshalt. My mind is now greatly burdened by the events which thy Empress did'st arrange.
Reshalt: ...then whyfoore do ye calle me? Why haf I ben broghte to liyf? Am I to be torchured?

Webbe Originnale

Button, oh button, where hast thou fled? Did thee tarry too long amongst needle and thread? Did thee roll off my bosom and cease to exist? How I wish I could follow thee into the mist.

    • Not too awful, however to nitpick, the word "thee" (the first two times) should be "thou". Although I agree "thee" sounds more poetic, it would be like saying "Did him tarry too long...?" or "Did him roll of my bosom...?" It is grammatically incorrect.

Weſterne Animationne

Subverfionnes, Parodief, etc.

Comicke Bookes

  • In one issue of the comic book ALF, Gordon "ALF" Shumway delivers a Melmac flashback that is a dual parody of the American Revolution and the Battle of Troy. When the Melmacian version of the Declaration of Independence is being written, one character asks about "In Congrefs", prompting the writer to ask for his ink eraser.
  • In the last Sandman book, The Wake, the people at the Renaissance fair do this, to the great annoyance of the six hundred year old Hob Gadling.
    • Ren fair actors are actually trained to talk like this, because authentic Elizabethan speech varies between being incomprehensible and actually sounding too modern. Almost nobody said 'thee' by that time except Shakespeare.
  • Parodied in an issue of Deadpool in which Deadpool briefly takes possession of Thor's hammer and changes his speech patterns accordingly.
    • And of course all the Norse gods in Thor's various books talk like that. ALL. THE. TIME. Now that Asgard is floating over a field in Oklahoma this is countered by hilariously backwoods country talk.
    • The Enchantress of the Young Masters in Young Avengers talks in what she thinks is Asgardian, which mostly consists of sticking an "-eth" at the end of random words if she remembers to.
    • The bad Norse dialogue in Heroes Reborn: Avengers turns out to be proof that "Thor" is a Counter-Earth duplicate after the real Thor arrives.
  • Marvel's Hercules used to talk like that, too, adopting a more modern style round about Civil War. He targets the trope during a rant in Incredible Hercules:

Why do you persist in talking in old-timey Shakespeare talk? We're from Greece! From two thousand years before Shakespeare!

    • Of course, Herc originally talked like that because he was a character first seen in Thor, and all the Asgardians didst speake in such manner—or they did once Stan Lee decided it was a cool idea to have them do so. It was a bit of a creeping growth over the first few years of the Thor comics: initially, Thor talks pretty much standard American English, but gradually, as more and more Asgardian elements are introduced into the comic, his speech becometh more and more Butcherede, as doth that of other non-Midgard characters, including the Olympians when they are introduced.
    • Also, the Dark Reign Young Avengers team consists of a teenager called The Enchantress, who modeled herself on the Thor villainness. She tries to talk in Thor-speak but often gets it wrong (even by Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe standards) or forgets to do it. It'll be like "Okay. --I mean, forsooth!"
  • The sound Spider-Man's web-shooters normally make is "thwip". In Spider-Man 1602, the sound effect is instead "thwippe".
  • In Alan Moore's Promethea, current Promethea Sophie Bangs and predecessor Grace Brannaugh(who illustrated fantasy pulp magazines about Promethea during the late 20s), encounter the evil wizard Neptura in the Immateria. The wizard is modeled after Promethea's adventures in the 20s pulps(his full name, Marto Neptura, was originaly the house psuedonym for the writers of the Promethea pulps), and speaks in grammatically incorrect Olde Englishe:

Neptura: Promethea. Think not that I do not SEE thou, little one. Neptura sees ALL!
Grace: Stupid man, it's "Thee", not "Thou". Hopeless without an editor!

  • In Adam Warren's Dirty Pair: Sim Hell, Yuri is shown as an anime-type RPG character trying to rescue the "fair elven princess" Kei from the Big Bad:

Yuri: I say thee nay, foul varlet! Thy fate is sealed bigtime!
Kei: "Fair elven princess"? This is really stupid.

  • In Peter David's run on Supergirl, a villainess named Satan Girl is a resurrected Satanist from the 18th Century. When she's brought back, she speaks with the expected "thee's and thy", only in the next issue she tells her resurrected nemesis that she'll drop the formal speak if she'll drop her "holier-than-thou name calling."

Yon Litteratturre

  • Discworld
    • When characters are involved in correspondence (e.g. Carrot, Vimes, and William de Worde), they are shown writing in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe and basically read like Samuel Pepys, despite speaking in modern English.
      • Technically, not actually English. The language spoken depends on where the book is set. For example, they speak Morporkian in Ankh-Morpork. Morporkian translated to English for our convenience.
      • Even more technically, whether Morporkian is translated for our convenience or is, in fact, identical to English is left gloriously unclear, and may actually change from book to book. And de Worde's style is based on the leader column of The Times, which was still being written like that well into the 20th century.
      • Several books say it's not strictly Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, it's more that practically no-one in Ankh-Morpork can spell. Known exceptions are the Patrician and de Worde, whose style is excessively formal but uses standard spelling. Likewise, Rincewind apparently spells in a modern fashion, despite the hat, at least in the diary he keeps in The Last Continent.
      • This is the more likely explanation, as school in Ankh-Morpork costs a penny a day and most of the poorer families can't afford that. A lot of the other places on the Disc (like Lancre or the Chalk) don't even have schools.
    • In Mort, Ysabel says that the Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe book was written "before they invented spelling."
    • In Science of Discworld 2: The Globe, the wizards are trying to evict the Elves from Roundworld (Earth). Towards the end they visit Shakespeare in the chapter "A Woman on ftage?"
    • Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch mentions in a footnote that Paley's watch argument was almost old enough to use these, leading to 'manifeftation of defign'
    • Soul Music played with ſ , mentioning the guitar primer "Play your Way to Succefs in Three Easy Lefsons and Eighteen Hard Lefsons."
    • In Witches Abroad, where Magrat pronounces ſ s as "f"s while quoting her herbal, prompting Nanny to tell her that a "herbal drink" (absinthe) would "put a cheft on your cheft".
    • Played with in Lords and Ladies, when the magically sleeping bodies of a long-dead army are casually reawakened.

Ancient King: What tyme does thou call thys then?

    • Also played with in Pyramids. When Teppic's ancestors come back to life, the older they are, the more butchered their English gets.
    • In Discworld.Thud, Grag Bashful Bashfullson speaks in this manner when translating the old Dwarfish language spoken by the ancient king on the recorded on the Device. Well, until he gets to the part about the trolls, at which point he's so shocked he forgets.
  • Michael Crichton's Timeline. The main character goes back in time to Medieval periods, and can't understand a word he hears. When he does understand a word, "genteel", he takes it to mean the current meaning "gentle" - instead of the old meaning "noble".
    • The one guy who actually knows the language thinks his speech probably sounds close to this to the locals.
  • One interesting aversion is that while Henry Fielding's 18th century writing style is somewhat similar to what is commonly thought of as Olde English, in his novel Jonathan Wild, when detailing Wild's ancestry, he depicts the one living in the Dark Ages speaking actual Old English.
  • This is actually a minor clue in the third book of the Dresden Files. Part of the backstory has Harry and the Chicago PD taking down a sorcerer. In a flashback, you hear the sorcerer talking with "thee"s and "thou art"s strewn about his language, to which Harry responds something like, "Shut up, nobody talks like that any more." Later, when the demon pursuing him speaks the same way, Harry says the same thing. He doesn't catch on to it for awhile, but it's the first clue as to the real identity of the villain.
    • Harry also subverts this by correcting other people's Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. When a demon tells him, "I will tear out thy heart! I will hunt thy friends and their children!" he replies, "It's THINE heart."
    • And then, occasionally, he just uses it to give a vibe of Sophisticated As Hell.

Harry: Thrice I say unto thee, bite me.

  • In Peter S. Beagle's The Folk of the Air, the Olde Englishe spoken by members of a society based on the SCA is derided as "Castle Talk." One character remarks, "It's got no rules!"
  • In David Weber's Heirs of Empire series, Jiltanith insists on speaking in "Elizabethan English". She says she does this to show her disdain for the modern world, but everyone else, including her father Horus (who has been around long enough to have inspired the Egyptian god), finds it annoying.
    • Justified in-story—most of the crew of the counter-mutineer battleship have been awake through most of human history, but Jiltanith was put back into cryosleep around the Wars of the Roses and only woke up relatively recently.
  • The British series What the Tudors Did for Us has episode titles like this, e.g. "Desygner Livinge."
  • Dave Barry Slept Here has this "actual example" (we are pretty sure that Dave Barry is making this up) of British colonial tax forms:

To determineth the amounteth that thou canst claimeth for depreciation to thine cow, deducteth the amount showneth on Line XVLIICX-A of Schedule XVI, from the amount showneth on Line CVXILIIVMM of Schedule XVVII... No, waiteth, we meaneth Line XCII of Schedule CXVIILMM... No, holdeth it, we meaneth...

      • (Sadly, while it is this trope, it isn't that far off the mark as to the brand of impenetrability and verbosity of 18th-century British legislation: try reading the offending Stamp Act, for instance, without clutching your head at the one-two punch of Antiquated Linguistics combined with legalese).
    • In "Ye Olde Humor Columne," Dave Barry offers an original proposal for having the federal government raise taxes by making stores pay an annual rate of $50,000 for each unnecessary "e" in their names, with the word "ye" incurring an additional $50,000 tax. Under this proposal, the owner of "Ye Olde Shoppe" would pay $150,000 a year, and the owner of "Ye Olde Barne Shoppe" "would simply be taken outside and shot."
    • In Dave Barry's Claw Your Way To The Top, he gives a quick guide for salespeople who are looking to entertain a client. In his chart, he lists "Examples of classy restaruant names": Eduardo's, Le Pleuve en Voiture, and Ye Reallie Olde Countrie Manour Downes Inne. (The examples of non-classy names were "Booger's", "The Chew 'n' Swallow", and "Commander Taco".)
    • The Shakespeare quotes that occasionally appear in Dave Barry's writings, aside from variations on "O Romeo, Romeo," are simply a bunch of archaic words arranged nonsensically to form heroic couplets.

What dost thine flinder knowest of thy face? Doth not the savage bull his row displace?

In a somer sesunn when softe was the sunne, I kylled a young byrd and I ate it on a bunne.

  • Elminster. Maybe this doth somehow reflect that olde lecher liveth there for more than thousand years, how do ye think?
  • In Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones, Hathaway, who lives in the past, sends Quentin Sykes a letter with "f" used freely instead of "s". (In the TV adaptation, the effect is retained by having the letter read aloud by a meffenger with a ftrange fpeech impediment.) Hathaway himself speaks modern English to the main characters, but period English to his wife and children.
  • In Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World, students of the Jarndice University take an oath stating that they will looke upon ye world with an eye to ye proper managemente thereofe, ye goode conducte of ye businesse of livynge and ye keeping of ye pease, and that all magisters will give heede to ye thoughts one of another, and not take untoe themselves an excessive pryde.
  • 1066 and All That presents examples of Eaold Ynglishe poetry.
  • From Henry Beard's short Raymond Chandler parody "The Big Recall": ". . . the El Olde English Pubbe, with beer in test tubes and a menu that offered mafhed potatoef and firloin fteak."
  • Parodied in Good Omens, where the passages from The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter are all written like this, and in flashbacks to Agnes Nutter's burning at the stake the people talk like this too, complete with non-standard spelling.
  • Played with along with a case of Shown Their Work in the novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin. A British officer is dropped on the Greek island of Cephallonia during WWII to foment a resistance movement. The officer was chosen because of his university studies in Ancient Greek. His Greek is rendered in the text as (proper) Old English, which none of the Greeks initially understand.
  • Bored of the Rings uses this for a one-off joke involving the sentence "Greetingf ye olde wayfarerf" printed in blackletter type.
  • Ozymandias, of The Tripods, uses this as part of his disguise, a brain-damaged Vagrant.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy is about a djinni who is summoned by a 12-year-old magician living in the modern world. The human boy tries to use Ye Olde Butchered English, presumably to sound impressive, but the century-old djinni makes fun of him for it, and his narrator-self comments:

More than the renewed captivity, it was these occasional archaisms that annoyed me so much. "Thee, "recreant demon" - I ask you! No one used language like that anymore, and hadn't for two hundred years.

Lyve Actionne Tellevisionne

  • The ſ became a Running Gag in an episode of Cheers: "Life, liberty, and the purfuit of happineff" (which was actually written "happineſs").
  • In an episode of of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the 'bots are complaining about Mike's really outdated encyclopedia, with at one point Crow remarking that "Congress is spelled with an 'f'! How do you pronounce it? 'Congrefffffff'?"
    • Then there was the Roger Corman movie The Undead (the plot involves no undead, which should be a clue to its quality) where everybody in the past portions talked in an especially bad form of this, up to and including words like "now-eth". Mike and the bots got a lot of comedic gold out of that.
  • Lampshaded to amusing effect in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code", in which companion Martha Jones speaks briefly in some rather horrid-sounding 'Olde Englishe', at which point the Doctor quickly quiets her and tells her to just speak normally.
  • Blackadder II:

Blackadder: Tell me, young crone, is this Putney?
Young Crone: [in a cackling Cockney accent] That it be. That it be.
Blackadder: "Yes, it is", not "that it be." You don't have to talk in that stupid voice to me. I'm not a tourist.

  • The ſ was also used as an extended gag in The Benny Hill Show, in a novelty song called "Fad Eyed Fal," in which all of the Ss were replaced with Fs.
  • In an episode of The Vicar of Dibley, The Ditz Alice Tinker reads from a very old Bible, and pronounces all the ſ s as "f"s. The vicar stops her before she gets to the word "succor".
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon criticizes a historically inaccurate Renaissance Fair, saying, "My God, those people need to learn you can't just put 'ye olde' in front of anything you want and expect to get away with it."
  • Averted in Babylon 5: When a guy who believes he is King Arthur arrives at the station, one of the crew theorize that he may be the real King Arthur abducted and kept alive by the Sufficiently Advanced Vorlons. (It happened before with a Victorian character, after all.) This is shot down by another member pointing out that he speaks modern English with a heavy British accent, whereas the real King Arthur would be speaking a completely different language.[5]
  • In an episode of Dempsey and Makepeace, Dempsey finds Makepeace at an archery range and launches into a fake monologue full of butchered English before Makepeace tells him to "stop butchering the language".
  • The MythBusters frequently refer to "Ye Oldie Times"
  • Lauren Cooper in the Comic Relief sketch with David Tennant. It quickly becomes awesome.


  • Stan Freberg used this gag for his "United States of America Volume One" album.

Franklin (reading the Declaration of Independence): "', liberty, and the purfuit of happineff'?"
Jefferson: "It's 'pursuit of happiness'."
Franklin: "Well, all your Ss look like Fs!"
Jefferson: "Oh, it's 'in'; it's very 'in'!"
Franklin: "Well, if it's 'in'..."

  • Just for the sake of completeneſs, the English comedy songwriting team of Flanders and Swann} mentioned this in their treatment of Greensleeves. "And at the top it said, Green Fleeves. [Thomas] Kyd looked at this; he thought, 'Well, that's a pretty unlikely title ... for a fong.'"
  • Lupe Fiasco with a fake British accent? Trope Averted. Lupe Fiasco without the accent?

"O ye tormented souls!"
"No Heaven up above you, no Hell underneath ye, and noone to recieve thee..."

Neweth Media

Newsspaperre Comics

Profeffionalle Wreftling

Yon Theatre

  • One quotation ("O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?") has misled most people about "wherefore", which means "why" and not "where". Juliet is not asking where Romeo is, but rather complaining about his identity as a member of a rival family (she goes on "What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet."), signifying his family, feuding with hers. The word "wherefore" is related to "therefore", but as the latter is still in common use it doesn't cause the same confusion. (And if the phrase "whys and wherefores" wasn't dying out of the common vernacular, it would help understanding no end.)
    • It doesn't stop joke writers who should know better from having Romeo answer, "Over here!" (And it's probable that many of them do know better, given that it would make no sense in context to have Romeo shout that to Juliet, because he's sneaking up in the middle of the night to her balcony to see her. Stock Parodies are not required to be faithful to the play, though.)

Macbeth: Oh! Yet I do repent me of my fury that I did kill them.
Macduff: Wherefore did you so?
Macbeth: Um, hello? The bedchamber? Where they were? Look, I know it's early, but try to keep up, okay?
[nervous pause]
Macbeth: Oh...right.

Ye Gameſ of Yon Video

Helloeth! Thou appeareth to be playingeth an adventure gameth. Wouldeth thou liketh help with thateth?

  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a book called "The Red Book of Riddles", whose entire first paragraph mocks Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
    • In general, earlier Elder Scrolls games use this dialect all over the place. The more recent games have turned it down a bit, reserving Shakespearean dialogue for the nobles.
  • Taken over-the-top by Steward Ribson of Brave Fencer Musashi who seemingly can't say a word without tacking a pseudo-oldtimey suffix on. ("Thou art beeth correcteth!")
  • A few easter egg pages for Team Fortress 2 (already Retraux as it is) features bits from fictional old publications aimed at impossibly snooty audiences.

You are as PRESUMPTUOUS as you are POOR and IRISH . Tarnish notte the majesty of my TOWER of HATS .

    • Also, the "Ye Olde Baker's Boy" Scout hat.
    • Enforced in Medievalle Mode, forsooth!
      • This basically means that whatever is written and posted in the text chat gets wordfiltered into medieval-styled speech.
  • The Hammerites from the Thief series regularly get their thees and thous mixed up, and apply -est and -eth to verbs arbitrarily.
  • A cutscene from Super Adventure Island 2 on the SNES: "The Iceman cometh and breaketh openeth the dooreth".
  • The shopkeepers from the Master System game Golvellius shout hilarious insults to our hero every time we don't have enough money to pay for the items.
  • This ad for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time used this rather liberally: "Have ye what it takes?"
    • Every sentence in that ad was grammatically correct, so this would actually be an aversion.
  • Surprisingly enough, the Trope thou doth readeth is Averted in Sonick and Ye Olde Blacke Knight, in which everyone hath no accent and speaketh in Modern Englishe.
  • The Quake manual had this to say about the game's zombies: "Thou canst not kill that which doth not live. But you can blast it into chunky kibbles."
  • Parodied in Recettear with Tielle's map of Pensee, which is titled (as read aloud by Recette) "Beinge a Mape of Alle Welle-Lovede Shoppes of Confectionesse to be Founde in the Citee of"
  • Kenseiden contains gems such as, "Thou have learnt to slash with your sord." [sic]
  • Ultimuh, a parody of the Ultima series. "Howevereth", indeed.
  • The Nimbis in Super Paper Mario speak a mixture of this and Modern English, leading to quotes like "Um, yeah, verily..."
  • Wizards and Warriors frequently uses the grammatically erroneous construction "Thou hath..."

Webbe Animationne

  • Thy Dungeonman starts with the title and goes downhill from there, mixing with modern slang and Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. To illustrate how bad (and funny) this is:

Ye find yeself in yon dungeon. Ye see a FLASK. Obvious exits are NORTH, SOUTH, and DENNIS. What wouldst thou deau?
> Get ye flask

    • In one cartoon, Strong Bad gets an email from a viewer in England asking what he thinks of the English. His assessment starts with assuming that the writer is supposed to have a superfluous -e on the end of his name (and editing the message accordingly) and goes downhill from there. (This is Played for Laughs, of course.)

Webbe Comicſ

Legolas: Oh man, sucks to be you.
DM: Oh, come on. You're not even trying [to stay in character]. I know you can do better than that.
Legolas: Hark, thy fate sucketh?
DM: That is...much worse.

WANTED: 4 Ye Olde Lighte Warriorse Ofe Destinye Toe Rescuee Kingdome Frome Darknesse. Inquiree Withine.

Weſterne Animationne

  • Family Guy: Peter Griffin names the bar in his basement "Ye Old Pube" after mistaking which word was supposed to have the "e" at the end in Old English.
  • A brief gag on Futurama features an amusing clash between Fry's delusion that he's a robot and his ubiquitous idiocy.

Fry: "Fear not, for I shall assist ye!"
Hermes: "Robots don't say 'ye'! ...Quit thinking you're a robot!"
Fry: "I'll show ye..."

    • Don't forget George Washington's head: "Oh, Bender, thou robots cracketh me up!"
    • And in "All The Presidents' Heads", Benjamin Franklin was angry at the ſ writing, saying "That's how we write our 'S's, you ſtupid ſhitheads!"

Bender: "Bite my shiny metal aſſ!"

  • A particularly odd example is the Angry Archer of Transformers Animated, who talks like this all the time... even though he's in The Future.
    • Mildly justified in that he's somewhere between Robin Hood and Green Arrow in terms of his gimmick, and has occasionally spoken in actual (mangled) Shakespeare quotes. Now, his excuse for doing that is pretty up in the air.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Rugrats when the parents take the babies to a renaissance fair. Didi takes the babies to "Ye Olde Daycare" and the following conversation takes place:

Didi: Raiseth thy gate, good sir, so I may droppeth off my kids...eth!
Gatekeeper: Yeah, whatever, lady.

The Cavalier: "If thou thinkest thou can stop me, then have at thee!"

  • Lampshaded and nicely combined with Buffy-Speak in the Kim Possible pirate episode.
  • In The Simpsons, Homer became the town cryer of a festival, and would speak in this way whenever he rang his bell. He even refused to listen to Marge at one point unless she (reluctantly) played along.

Homer: Hear ye, hear ye! What's for breakfast?
Marge: Toast.
Homer: I can't understand thee.
Marge: (sigh) Ye olde toast.

    • Also used in the segment where Selma is Queen Elizabeth I. There is a gag using a banner that reads Miſſion Accompliſhed poking fun at a certain premature victory celebration aboard an aircraft carrier.
  • Both Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny of Looney Tunes speak this way in shorts set at the time of Robin Hood.

Bugs Bunny: Lo! The King approacheth!
Sheriff of Nottingham: King indeed. Ha. Dost thou taketh me for a fooleth?

  • SpongeBob SquarePants has the episode Dunces and Dragons, in which SpongeBob and Patrick are knocked back into the middle ages, where everyone adds -eth to the end of their every third word.
    • "Ye Olde Bowling Alley"
    • And then there's Plankton. Just...Plankton. His many hilarious quotes include:


    • and of course:

"Bring it on...eth."

    • Which is a pity, because a previous episode (from before The Movie) was actually pretty good with this.
  • In The Mask animated series, the title character travels back to late 17th century Salem, Massachussets:

The Mask: "Look! She is the witcheth! And she will cast a spelleth on us alleth...eth!"

Question not thine clams, nor, thine jerked beef!

I accuseth thee of beingeth...a witch! ...Eth!

  • The Venture Brothers: Hank Venture thinks Oscar Wilde's last name is simply "the ye olde fashioned way" of spelling "wild", which partially ruins an important riddle he and his brother are trying to solve.
  • In Kids Next Door, the minor villain, King Sandy, occasionally speaks in that form of English, along with his knightly cousins, which is part of the (fake) kingly act he pulls off.
  • In the magical cheeses episode of The Ren and Stimpy Show, the jester Stimpy meets talks this way.
    • Also, in the "Robin Hoek" episode, Stimpy talks this way, especially, "Sticketh them uppeth!" and "Thou may now kisseth the bride."

Doe not call up Any wordes whyche ye cannot putte downe in readable prose, lest Yogge-Sothoth drye yr inke in the pen, & eate yr face.

  1. And that's why there will be no self-demonstration for the rest of this page.
  2. and even then, it had already fallen so far out of favour that "the" was pretty much the only word it was used for
  3. well, at least in typefaces that have proper italics and not just obliques
  4. Use of "mine" and "thine" is only correct when in front of a vowel, e.g. you'd say "mine arms" but "my legs" (cf. a/an)
  5. Brythonic (a variety of Celtic), ancestor of modern Welsh