Warnings for Time Machine Fiction

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English is an evolving language. It’s been evolving ever since someone decided to call it English.

If you wanted a time machine to go back in time within England—lets say to the 19th or 18th Century, then there would be no problems. The people you meet speak more or less the English you speak.

“I, poor miserable Robinson Crusoe
Came on shore on this dismal, unfortunate island which I called,
‘The Island of Dispair.'”
                                    Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, 1719

But slang at the time would be a little more difficult:
Battyfang, Kickerapoo, Land Pirates, Gutfoundered, Nitsqueeger, Whapper.

15th Century is Shakespeare times.
“Thy natural magic and dire property on wholesome life usurp immediately.”
Hamlet Act III

Although Shakespeare did use iambic pentameter rythmns that I want to utilise also. More about that later.

Shakespeare talk is a little harder to follow, but not everyone talked like that, there were words like:
Yantippe, Abbess, Thornback, Barber-monger, Bleater and Brabble… are but a few.

The Great Vowel Shift

Came between the years 1350 and 1700.
Pronunciation: Tea = Tay, Gone = Goan

14th Century people spoke like the Bible:

Now therefore thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.’
                                                       KJV2 Kings 1:4

Common words at the time were:
Cropulous, Hugger-mugger, lettice-crop, petty-fogger, Pilgarlik, mumpsimum.

“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of march hath perced to the roote And bathed every veyne in swich licour, of which vertu egendred is the flour.
Canterbury Tales 1389

11th Century was the Old English

The Lords Prayer
Foeder ure pupe eart on heotonum,
si pin nama gehalgod,
to becume pin rice,
gewarpe din willa,
on eordan swa swa,
or hefonum.

I imagine in 600 years from now this English will be entirely different. So, I wouldn’t want to go back further than the 14th century. Further than that in millions of years. even though the Earth is 3.7 billion years old, I would not advise going back further than 300 million years as the lack of oxygen may become a problem for breathing. Unless you took a breathing mask, but be careful of the radiation as the ozone layer was formed from oxygen. So stay under ground.

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