Other verbs like 'methinks'?

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bearded

Senior Member
Hello everyone
I know that methinks is an old English word that means 'it seems to me', and I have read a couple of threads about it. Since it appears inevitable to me, though, that a popular interpretation of methinks refers to a modified (slang?) expression of I think, I wonder if, along that line, also any other verbs have ever been used in the same altered way - perhaps satyrically - like mefears, mebelieves, etc.
For your kind replies I thank you in advance.
 
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  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In fact 'methinks' was never slang. Here is an excellent explanation:

    methinks (v.) Old English me þyncð "it seems to me," from me (pron.), dative of I, + þyncð, third person singular of þyncan "to seem," reflecting the Old English distinction between þyncan "to seem" and related þencan "to think," which bedevils modern students of the language (see think). The two thinks were constantly confused, then finally merged, in Middle English. Related: Methought.
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Thank you, Biffo, I had read that. That is why I mentioned a' popular' (mistaken) folk interpretation. I cannot imagine that all people would know etymologies, but rather that they could consider methinks as an altered form of 'I think'. My question is precisely: once the origin of methinks has been misunderstood, have other verbs been used (in jokes, satyrical works etc.) in the same way as the presumed 'think'? Sorry if my initial question was not clear enough.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you, Biffo, I had read that. That is why I mentioned a' popular' (mistaken) folk interpretation. I cannot imagine that all people would know etymologies, but rather that they could consider methinks as an altered form of 'I think'. My question is precisely: once the origin of methinks has been misunderstood, have other verbs been used (in jokes, satyrical works etc.) in the same way as the presumed 'think'? Sorry if my initial question was not clear enough.
    Ah, I see.

    I am not aware of any such cases. Are you just hypothesising or do you have texts that prompt the idea?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Yes, there was the word "meseems" which has the same meaning as "methinks" and is even rarer. But it was still in poetic use in the 19th century, as for instance:
    The tropics vanish, and meseems that I,
    From Halkerside, from topmost Allermuir,
    Or steep Caerketton, dreaming gaze again.

    From Songs of Travel, R.L. Stevenson
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I am just hypothesising. (No polemics, but if I already had texts, I would not ask). Thank you.
    I had to ask because just occasionally an OP will hold something back only to reveal it halfway through the thread as though it was a trump card. Yes, that really does happen!

    Clearly you are not such a person :) I'm glad.

    The thing about putting forward a hypothesis is that the onus is on the proposer to bring evidence in its favour.
     
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    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, there was the word "meseems" which has the same meaning as "methinks" and is even rarer. But it was still in poetic use in the 19th century, as for instance:
    The tropics vanish, and meseems that I,
    From Halkerside, from topmost Allermuir,
    Or steep Caerketton, dreaming gaze again.

    From Songs of Travel, R.L. Stevenson
    Interesting.

    meseems (v.) late 14c., me semeth, from me (pron.) + seem (v.).

    This looks like another valid use, not a mistaken one as I believe we are being asked about. What do you think?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England

    bearded

    Senior Member
    It is all very interesting, thank you. I was hoping to find something mock-modern rather than mock-archaic.:D
    @ Keith: can you please quote some examples of the uses in modern fiction, as you mentioned? Thank you.

    In a Shakespeare work (Coriolanus) there is also one example of methink, which makes me suppose that, already then, the expression was felt as a corruption/alteration of I think.
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wonder if, along that line, also any other verbs have ever been used in the same altered way - perhaps satyrically - like mefears, mebelieves, etc.
    Have you tried Googling it? Here is one for a start: me fears i'm in a silly mood.... http://www.huggies.com.au/forum/6-g...ssion/2547782-so-whats-everyone-up-to-tonight

    I also enjoyed these (genuine old ones) from the OED
    me arghes and me grulleth for I am afraid.
    me longs/longeth for I long for
    me marvels for it is a wonder to me.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...In a Shakespeare work (Coriolanus) there is also one example of methink, which makes me suppose that, already then, the expression was felt as a corruption/alteration of I think.
    I have more faith in Shakespeare than that! There are some 150 'methinks' in his works and only one 'methink' that I know about. I'll bet a pound to a penny it was a transcription error somewhere along the line. The original Coriolanus is lost.

    List of 'methinks' in Shakespeare.
    http://www.rhymezone.com/r/ss.cgi?q=methinks&mode=k
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    All Shakespeare's originals are lost, except three pages possibly by him from a play called Thomas Moore. So the printed version is the original as far as we're concerned.

    But changing I think to methinks wasn't a common fault of the copyists and print-setters. We may consider it as a deliberate archaism - he often did that for certain characters. In Hamlet, Queen Gertude famously says "Methinks the lady doth protest too much".
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    All Shakespeare's originals are lost, except three pages possibly by him from a play called Thomas Moore. So the printed version is the original as far as we're concerned...
    In that case methinks I can claim to be right. :p

    Shakespeare's First Folio
    This is the first collected edition of the plays of William Shakespeare, published in 1623, only seven years after his death.
    http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/landprint/shakespeare/

    "me thinkes"
    Coriolanus | Act 2, Scene 3 (Page 629)
    http://lf-oll.s3.amazonaws.com/titles/1136/02Coriolanus_Bk.pdf

    Picture
    http://tinypic.com/r/261hjs7/8
     
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    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I wonder if, along that line, also any other verbs have ever been used in the same altered way - perhaps satyrically - like mefears, mebelieves, etc.
    In addition to think and seem, there is the verb list, meaning "to be pleasing to." "Me list(eth)" is a very antiquated expression -- one which has not survived in the way "methinks" has -- meaning "I please, choose, like, care, or desire." The OED gives the following citations, among others: 1526 Tindale Matt. xx. 15 Ys yt not lawfull ffor me to do as me listeth with myne awne.; 1584 Peele Arraignm. Paris i. ii, Me list‥ This idle task on me to undertake.; 1633 P. Fletcher Poet. Misc. 64 When me list to sadder tunes apply me.
     
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