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The Renaissance Faire Forget-Me-Knot Presents...

Faire Speak

Basic Elizabethan Terms
What everyone should know..
How to Address People
Learn the proper form of address when speaking to almost anyone..
Forms of Elizabethan Speech
A more in depth study of formal vs. informal, verb forms, etc... used in Elizabethan Everyday Speech
The Elizabethan Insult
Learn how to sling 'em with the best of Shakespeare's Rogues and Scoundrels
Basic Gaelic Terms
Anyone playing a Scottish character should learn these basic terms
A Character Creation How-to
A detailed look into how one might go about creating and fleshing out a faire persona.

Basic Elizabethan Terms

At first Elizabethan speech may seem daunting and very unfamiliar. To tell the truth, it can be. The most important part of learning BFA is perhaps patience - don't try to cram it all in in one afternoon. Learn the basics first, try using them in conversation. At faire listen to others and how they speak. Get comfortable with the idea that Elizabethan English, in some cases, is as close to our modern day English as French.

Do not fear, however. What I am presenting here is really just a few basics that any beginner can grasp. If you want a more detailed look into Faire Speak meander your way further down the page and you'll be given plenty of discussion regarding the difference of thee/thou and you/ye, how verbs are conjugated, etc...

"Hello" is an exclamation of surprise, not greeting. You might try "Good Morrow", "God ye good den.", "How now?",
"God save you", or "Good Day"
Instead of "Good Bye" try "Anon", "Fare thee well" or "God save thee!"

It's "Aye" or "Yay" not "Yes."
Try "Nay" or "Indeed Not" for "No".

"You" can be either "thee/thou" or even "you/ye"
"You would" or "You should" best heard as "Thou would'st" or "Thou should'st".

I would "beg your pardon" instead of excusing myself.
In order to get your attention I wouldn't cry: "Listen", but I would say "Hark!"
Say "prithee" or "if it please thee" instead of "please".
A wandering babe would be told to "come hither" not "here."

"A Salesperson" barks louder as a "Hawker". Affectionately you might call your grandfather "Gaffer". A beautiful young woman could be a lusty "wench" or maybe a fair "maiden". Perhaps your pet name for your boyfriend/girlfriend is "Sweeting". A doll might be called "poppet", but so would a child.

Some exclamations:
"Alack!", "Alackaday!", "Alas!", "Fie!", "Out upon it!", "Go to!"
"I'faith!", or "Now, by my faith!"
"Marry!", "'Zounds (God's wounds, pron: ZOONDS)", "Hey-ho!", "God's Death!", "God's Teeth!", or "What ho!"

Instead of a bar you would find the local "tavern" to buy some "Ale".

Some general words to know:

  • Anon - Later
  • As you will - Okay, or whatever.
  • By your leave - Excuse me or please, when in the company of another.
  • Carouse- Party!
  • Chide - Scold or nag
  • Cutpurse- Thief
  • E'en - Evening or even
  • E'er - Ever or before
  • Fie - A curse.
  • Grammercy - Thank you
  • Maid or Maiden - A young woman of upstanding virtue
  • Marry! - An exclaimation of shock
  • Mayhap - Perhaps. Do not mistakenly say "Mayhaps" - there is no plural form
  • Morrow - Days or tomorrow.
  • N'er - Never.
  • Nonpariel - A beauty
  • Oft - Often
  • In Faith - In truth, sometimes just "faith". A mild exclaimation.
  • Perchance - Maybe or Possibly.
  • Poppet - A doll or a young child
  • Pray pardon me - Excuse me
  • Pray tell - Please tell me
  • Prithee - Please, literally "I pray thee"
  • Privy - Bathroom, or more literally, outhouse
  • Stay - Stop or wait.
  • S'wounds! - An exclaimation, like wow. A shortened from "gods wounds".
  • Tosspot- Drunkard
  • Verily - Very, Truly or Truthfully.
  • Wench - A young woman
  • Wherefore - Why
  • Yonder - Over there.

How to Address People

Elizabethan England society was very socially stratified and as such one was always aware of their rank among the larger scheme of things. Based upon one's physical description you can usually find the appropriate method of address: "My Lord", "My Lady", "Good Wife", "Goodly Juggler", etc. The art of addressing people was perfected out of necessity at this time. Remember your rank and how you would react to those of a higher and/or lower station than yourself.

People of the time wore clothes that suited their rank in life, and (fortunately) this makes them easier to identify. When addressing people of equal station you can be less formal. For instance: the Earl of Rycroft might call the Earl of Worth either "Worth" or "My Lord cousin", etc. However a merchant or peasant would call them "Lord", or "My Lord", or "My Lord, Earl".

When addressing a well-dressed, upper class person of whose station you're not certain it is always safe to address them as "Sir" or "Mistress."

Do not assume the rank of the nobility because more often than not you will miss some obscure title and insult the noble. For safety's sake use "My Lord" or "My Lady" if you do not know their name or title. The Queen is referred to as "Your Highness", or "Your Grace''. In the third person, the Queen may be called "Her Highness". Dukes and Duchesses are also addressed as "Your Grace". Office holders may be called "Your Honour".

Forms of Elizabethan Speech

Or, Thee vs. Thou

Formal vs. Informal

Yes, you may not believe it but the English language once had a formal and an informal mode very similar to the romance languages. (Oh, come on tell me you don't remember trying to figure out those damned le's and la's in French class or the different conjugations that went with each mode. I sure do, ughhhh!) Well, for those of you who don't remember the difference between formal and informal allow me to give you a quick overview:

The formal mode is used when you are talking to your superiors, strangers, respected personages, your parents, the elderly, and/or those people you wished to be polite to. If you call a person sir then the address will be you and not thou. When addressing any of these persons the appropriate word is you.

Whom would I use the formal mode with?

  • Your parents
  • Your employer
  • Any noble person
  • Any person you are flattering
  • Horses. Horses because they're noble animals.







1st person



2nd person



3rd person



The informal mode is used when you are speaking with people close to you (intimates), social inferiors, children, etc When addressing any of these persons the appropriate word is thou.

Whom would I use the informal mode with?

  • Your husband/wife
  • Your close friends
  • Your children
  • Your servants
  • Your non-horse pets and animals
  • Any person you are insulting
  • Inanimate objects
  • God. (because presumably, He is your intimate)







1st person



2nd person



3rd person




Thee vs. Thou

You've seen these words numerous times before, I'm sure, and have probably never been able to figure out what the difference is. Well, they're not two versions of the same word. As a matter of fact these two word while having a similar meaning are extremely different. In the informal form of address these words are used in the second person to denote a subject or object.

Thee is objective which means it is used as the object of a sentence. For example, one might say "I love thee," but they would not say "I love thou."

Thou is nominative which means it is used as the subject of a sentence. For example, one might say "Thou art loved," but would not say "Thee art loved."

In the formal mode there is no difference between the objective and nominative cases. For both the correct form is you.

Objective - "I love you."
Nominative - "You are loved."

The Possessive Forms
Most forms change when it comes to the possessive case. All in all, the possessive has mainly stayed the same throughout the years with a few minor exceptions. The informal 2nd person singular "thee/thou" changes into "thy/thine" in the possessive. The informal and formal 1st person singular "I" changes to "my/mine".

Possessive Forms







1st person



2nd person

thy/thine, your


3rd person



How do I tell when I use thy/thine?

Use "thy" when the word following begins with a consonant. Thy cattle. Thy friend.
Use "thine" when the word following begins with a vowel. Thine occupation. Thine apple.

How do I tell when I use my/mine?
Use "my" when the word following begins with a consonant. My sheep.
Use "mine" when the word following begins with a vowel. Mine eyes.

Verb Endings

Perhaps the most difficult part of any language is learning how to conjugate the verbs that you're using with the particular mode. Let's start with a simple verb and learn the different ending and when and where you would use them.

In any language one of the first verbs you learn is "to do", hence it would make sense that we do the same thing here.

  • In the first person, both singular and plural, there are no extra endings. Continue saying these as you normally would in modern-day English.


I do.
We do.

  • The informal, second person singular uses "-st" and "-est" endings.


How dost thou?

  • The formal, second person singular uses no extra endings.


You do.

  • The third person singular uses the "-eth" and "-th" endings.


He doth adore thee.
She doth smile on thee.
He taketh not a name, doth he?

  • In the case of plural subjects there is no need for any additional endings. Continue to say the plural as you normally would.


Do ye?
They do.

Some verb exceptions. "Will" and "shall" become "wilt" and "shalt" when used with "thee" or "thou".

Basic Gaelic Terms (Gaelic for Dummies) V. 1.2(expanded edition)

Note: If you are English trying to gain from this course you have the wrong manuscript, you need Gaelic For Neanderthals.


Item (Gaelic)
pouch, purse
Brechan fileadh
brekan aylee
woman's headcovering
woman's plaide garment

Greetings and Conversational Phrases:

Beannachd De
ben'ach jay
hello (literally god's blessings)
Beannachd leibh
ben'ach layv
goodbye (literally God's blessings)
Ciamar a tha thu
kim a ra a hoo
how are you?
Ciamar a sibh
kim a ra a shiv
how are you (formal)
Tha gu math
ha goo ma
I am good
Tapadh leat
top'a let
thank you (familiar)
Tapadh leibh
top'a layv
thank you (formal)
(Nah Jane chee)*?
Stop it!
Gl mhath
glay va
very good (equivalent to huzzah)
above all (equivalent to god save the queen, i.e. Glorianna Abu!)
I am, my name is......
Slinte mhath
slan'che va
good health (used as a toast)
Na dan sin
naw jeean shin
Stop it!


Pronunciation Translation
O, mo khreach sa as thàinig Oh ma krek sa hanik? my cattle raid has come (it sucks to be me)
(Oh orchs krek sa hanik)*? your cattle raid has come (it sucks to be you)
Shug shug uh huh..yep..whatever you say..I hear you
Pog Mahon poewg maw hone kiss my ass
Mil gun feos turrach na latsa mill gun fay ows turrach na lassa mine's bigger than yours (this phrase is actually Irish)
Sasannach gillie (toiton)*? English boy's asshole (direct insult)


Pronunciation Translation
Uisge oosh ga water
Uisge beatha oosh ga bay'ha whiskey (literally good water)
Alba All bah Scotland
Sasannach sass'e'nack lowlander, southman, Englishman, anyone that lives south of us, it can be used as derragatory.
Gille gil ey boy
Nighean na'hean girl, daughter
Dubh doo black, dark, hidden, secret
Aran a'ran bread ("a" is pronounced as in the english "cap")
bo'w cow
kuew dog


Pronunciation Translation
Teaghlach chugh-luch family
Màthair ma' hair mother
Athair a hare father (the "a" is pronounced as in "cap")
Bràthair bra' hare brother
Piuthar pew-ur sister
Mo bhean mow vain my wife
Mo chairde mow khare-juh my friends
Mo chèile mow khayl'e my spouse (masculine, used for husband)


Pronunciation Translation
Mo leannan mow lawn'en my lover
Mo cridhe mow cry'uh my heart
Mo mhùirnìn mow vurewnin my darling

Gaelic names for the time period**:
Alasdair- Alexander(m)
Anna- Ann (f)
Anndra- Andrew (m)
Brghde- Bridget (f)
Caitlin- Cathleen (f)
Catrona- Catherine (f)
Calum- Malcolm (m)
Coinneach- Kenneth (m)
Daibhidh- David (m)
Dmhnall- Donald (m)
Donnchadh- Duncan (m)
Dghall- Dougal (m)
Dghlas- Douglas (m)
Elasaid- Elizabeth (f)
Esaph- Joseph (m)
Fearghas- Fergus (m)
Iain- John (m)
Iseabail- Isabel (f)
Lachlann- Lachlan (m)
Mairead- Margaret (f)
Miri- Mary (f)
Mata- Matthew (m)
Mrag- Sarah (f)
Muireall- Muriel (f)
Niall- Niall, Neil (m)
Pl- Paul (m)
Raghnall- Ronald (m)
Raibeart- Robert (m)
Raonaid- Rachel (f)
Seumas- James (m)
Sorcha- Claire (f)
Terlach- Charles (m)
Tmas- Thomas (m)
Uilleam- William (m)
Una- Una (f)

Gaelic names for characteristics:
A' chiad- the first (if you're silly enough to name more than one of your children the same name)
rd- tall
Bn- fair haired, skinned
Beag- small
Caol- thin
Dubh- black (can be used for personality or hair coloring)
Dorch- dark (can be used for hair coloring or complexion)
Glic- wise
Goirid- short
Lidir- strong
Liath- grey (of hair)
Mr- big
g- young
Ruadh- red haired
Seann- old
Socair- quiet
Tiugh- thick

*When a word is in parentheses with a question mark after it, it means we don't know how it's spelled in gaelic, we have only heard it spoken, therefore it should not be taken as doctrine.

** during the 16th century, a Scot would not have the basic given name, middle and last. Because most clans lived together and therefore had the same surname, it was necessary to use family lineage names or nicknames to prevent confusion. An example of the first is in the name Iain, if there was not a distinction, there would be many Iain MacIains. So instead Iain would introduce himself as Iain Coinneach Fearghus of the Clan MacIain. The names are his given, his father's name and then his grandfather's. What's the chance of having ten Iains in the clan who also have a father named Coinneach and a grandfather named Fearghus? This also was because Iain wouldn't be anyone important unless he had an important relative, hence he would want to include his grandfather who say was a great warrior in his time. Another common naming process if you traveled often was to take the place name from where you hail. An example is to introduce yourself as Iain s Muile if you are of Mull. The last is to shorten your name among friends who know you with a characteristic. You would not introduce yourself as Iain Ruadh (Iain the Red) to buisness associates or to someone you don't know, but if you have dark hair and your name is Iain and there's another Iain among some cousins of yours that is a red head, your family would probably start calling you Iain Dubh from a young age, not Iain Coinneach Fearghus.

This was composed by Victoria A. Chavez and Melissa L. Holt for the use of historical reanactors only and not meant to be a modern language guide for Gaelic speaking.
Note: I got this from a friend who in turn got it from someone else, so all I can say is that it is not copyright to me.

ã 2003, Suzanne L Gordon.
All information contained within these pages is the intellectual
property of
Suzanne L. Gordon ( unless otherwise noted.