On planet Gereon Ghosts meet "partisans" that speak language other than Low Gothic. After a bit of concentration, Gaunt recalls that he was learning something similar in scholam

Gaunt’s brow creased as he concentrated. He could almost see old Boniface now, smell the musty scholam room, Vaynom Blenner at the desk beside Gaunt, doodling cross-eyed eldar on the cover of his slate.
“No looking at your vocab primer now, Scholar Gaunt,” Boniface called. “Parse the verb form now, young man! Begin! ‘Ayeam yclept… Heyth yclept…’ Come on, now! Blenner? What’s that you’re drawing, boy? Show the class!”
“Histye, soule,” Gaunt said, more deliberately now. “Ayeam yclept Gaunt of Tanith His Worlde. Preyathee, hwat yclepted esthow?”
“Cynulff ayeam yclept,” the partisan replied. “Of Geryun His Worlde.” His voice dripped like glue in the sweaty air.
“Histye, Cynulff,” said Gaunt. “Biddye hallow, andso of sed hallow yitt meanye goode rest.”

There are more examples later on, i.e:

“Preyathee, soule,” Gaunt asked, tapping the bow. “Hwat yclept beyit?”
“Reynbow, beyit,” Eszrah replied. He was delicately picking meat from a spindly frog-bone with his small, white teeth.
“Reyn-bow, seythee?” Gaunt repeated. Eszrah nodded. “Thissen brande sowithe yitt we shalle reyn yron dartes thereon the heddes of otheren kinde, who gan harm makeyit on us.”
A rain-bow, to rain quarrels on the heads of the enemy. Gaunt smiled. He’d seen that. Emperor bless the nightwalkers.

While of course this might be completely fictional language, it does sound look similar to Middle English. Could someone with more linguistic skills confirm or deny it?

Edit: TvTropes describe it as an example of "Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe":

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.

So I guess question is answered.

1 Answer 1


Your friendly amateur linguistic anthropologist is here to answer simply....ish.

Alright, so first things first. Let's define Middle English.

enter image description here

Thanks google! To be more precise (or at least more verbose) Middle English is the culmination of Norman French and Olde English. This happened because William the great big ol' Conqueror better known as the Duke of Normandy and William I of England (all these titles belonged to the same dude) invaded the island of Britain from his home base back in northern France. The English were stubborn, the French were arrogant and no one wanted to give up their root language...so old French and old English had a verbal baby and voila, Middle English was born.

So this.

enter image description here

Became this:

enter image description here

You can see the Germanic influence of the Anglo-Saxon root language shift to take on some of the romantic parlance of the French. Good luck picking out what the Old English is saying (It's an excerpt of Beowulf, there are lots of spark notes) but the middle English is a little easier to understand as our common modern English comes from this. Excess letters have been dropped, the thorn (the symbol for the 'th' sound) disappears, the 'eth' also goes away, but the big thing to note is declensions (which help know what the word is ding in the sentence you are reading, provided you can read the sentence).

So what separates Middle English from modern? Well, there are four big things.

  • Spelling (No one really agreed on spelling yet...)
  • Latin (rather than German)
  • Punctuation (The punctuation mark hadn't been invented yet)
  • Lacking in the Shakespearean "thee/thine/thou"

Alright, so let's take a piece of the literature that you used.

“Parse the verb form now, young man! Begin! ‘Ayeam yclept… Heyth yclept…"


Okay, written language is broken down into two parts, grammar and punctuation. Let's break down the punctuation first.

Alrighty. So we can see that while the speaking is talking in their regular language, everything is normal grammatically. There is familiar punctuation and most notably an exclamation point. Yay!

Moving on, the most noted punctuation is that of the ellipsis, which is ancient Greek in origin, and this fits Middle English, but originally meant the omission of a word (or even a phrase). I do not think that is what it means here.

However! It was, according to Cambridge, originally used 1588 edition of the Roman dramatist Terence’s play Andria, this means that the punctuation of your piece is not Middle English.

But what about the grammar, the words? Arguably the more important part of this question. The speaker is asking the student to parse the verb, or break down the verb in the sentence.

I CAN say that "yclept" IS a Middle English word meaning to 'call or name', the student begins to do just that, call and name.

Thissen means you or yourself

Preyathee is a bastardization of 'prithee' (though that's not Middle English, just archaic)

While I wont go and break down and define each and every word (I do have a day job) I can say that there are plenty of words here that are found in Middle English, but not all.

What I think is that this particular writer did use Middle English as inspiration, but did not stick to the language in its entirety.

  • It's the Black Library, who could refuse? Aug 29, 2016 at 23:45
  • 1
    Your image for "Middle English" is a phonetic (IPA) transcription, not actual Middle English.
    – Junuxx
    Aug 29, 2016 at 23:49
  • Also, the Middle English example consists almost entirely of Germanic words. Except for "age", I guess.
    – Junuxx
    Aug 29, 2016 at 23:51
  • Yes, it is phonetic, but it is still an accepted example of Middle English. And there is still a lot of Anglo-Saxon roots in Middle English, so many of the words are Germanic since the language comes from the Völkerwanderung Aug 29, 2016 at 23:54
  • No, it's not Middle English. Despite spelling variations, that's not how they would ever write it, those are not even the characters they would use.
    – Junuxx
    Aug 29, 2016 at 23:55

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