How did colonial Americans speak?
May 26, 2014 2:25 PM Subscribe
I am trying to write a story that takes place in 1660s Massachusetts. I have a great plot and characters, but the action stops when they open their mouths. I simply don't know how they spoke. How can I find examples of 17th century English as spoken
by ordinary people?
posted by Biblio to Education (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I think we all have a stereotype in our minds of how early Americans spoke. Lots of thees and thous. I need my characters to sound like people, not cartoons, so I am looking for more.
Speech is obviously hard to come by, since it couldn't be recorded, but surely some enterprising linguistics grad student has come up with something I could go on.
Transcripts seem to be my best bet, and I am reading through the Salem witch trial transcripts, since they contain lots of dialog.
Diaries and letters could help, if they were written by ordinary people, and not highly educated ministers and the like.
I am looking for vocabulary, sentence structure, popular turns of phrase, anything that gets my characters closer to sounding like they belong in 1660.
Obscure books are fine, I have a good ILL system.