-ed in archaic English

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

The regular past tense and participle inflection in current English is -ed. This has been true for a long time - but it is not always realized that it represents different sounds (see -ed (phonetic). Before the standardization of spelling in the eighteenth century, these '-ed- sound(s)were often spelled more phonetic ally). Shakespeare and his Early Modern contemporaries often use the clear pronunciation of the -ed to assist the metre, for example, in Mark Antony's funeral eulogy for Caesar:

The good is oft interred with their bones
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, III ii 1620

(with the last vowel realized with the IPA: /ɛ/ sound of 'get' and 'let'). This is a perfect pentameter with ten syllables. Should the participle be read in the modern way, with no vowel, it would be an imperfect pentameter with nine syllables (and a central word that sounds like 'in turd', which is not the effect sought).