Hello, I'm a playwright working on play set in the latter part of the 19th century.   One of the main characters is Quaker, and I'm wondering what resources there are to make sure that her plain speech is consistent.   

Also, I'd be glad of help to make this accurate.   She's a supporting character, but a major one, and part of her story is her struggle with the way the Quaker church changed here in the midwest (Minneapolis) during this time.    From what I understand, they began to hire preachers, and even became evangelical.   

If this is interesting to you or know anyone who could help, I'd be grateful.   You can find the project here:  http://www.freshwatertheatre.com/mrs-charles/

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Hello, Ruth!

I could send you contact information for Ohio Conservative Friends who grew up using the plain language.  Of course, it would be the 20th Century Ohio Conservative version.

My wife grew up with the Iowa/Kansas version of it, but she died in 2013.

You wrote: "From what I understand, they began to hire preachers, and even became evangelical."  You should consult Thomas Hamm's The Transformation of American Quakerism:  Orthodox Friends, 1800-1907   His account of Gurneyite Friends is much better than his work on Conservative Friends IMHO.  Your group would have been Gurneyite.  From what you wrote, I don't think you have the story quite straight!

Thank you for the information!   I was basing my information on articles from the Minnesota Historical Society.    It really did seem like the congregation made a transition from Conservative to Gurneyite, but I very much could be wrong! This is why I asked for help.   I will definitely read that.  

I would also love a contact for help on fixing my poor attempts.  I really do want to do justice to the character and her faith.

Hello, Ruth!

I don't think that there were ever Conservative meetings in Minnesota.  The meeting would have been Orthodox, more specifically Gurneyite Orthodox.

My wife was born near Paullina IA, approximately 30 miles from Minnesota, I think.  The meeting at Paullina was part of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).  Some of its members might have lived in southern Minnesota at various times.

You would need to contact me through QuakerQuaker, by naming me as a friend.  After I accept your request, we can send private communications.

I don't want to overstate the difference between Midwestern "Plain Language" and Ohio's.  Much of the plain language that I heard in the country near Barnesville OH was slang.  It was the "folk" plain language of the Chestnut Ridge Friends.

I clearly have so much to learn, and I am very excited about it.

I just ordered that book, thank you so much.   I will read it first before I ask further questions, so my questions are more informed!  :)

At some point a transition was made from "thou" to "thee". The book "A Portraiture of Quakerism" by Clarkson says the Quakers were using "thou" at the time of his writing in 1808. So "thee" either was used then but only by the "country folks" - like in Ohio? - or it evolved later. I never hear thou in the current plain language, only thee,  even though thou   is grammatically the correct form.

So the form used in Clarkson's time, and on back, would have been thou for the nominative case (subject of the sentence), and thee for the direct and indirect object, and thine or thy for possessive. Today it is thee for all cases except possessive, which is thine (or thy).

Right?

Barb



Barbara Smith said:

At some point a transition was made from "thou" to "thee". The book "A Portraiture of Quakerism" by Clarkson says the Quakers were using "thou" at the time of his writing in 1808. So "thee" either was used then but only by the "country folks" - like in Ohio? - or it evolved later. I never hear thou in the current plain language, only thee,  even though thou   is grammatically the correct form.

So the form used in Clarkson's time, and on back, would have been thou for the nominative case (subject of the sentence), and thee for the direct and indirect object, and thine or thy for possessive. Today it is thee for all cases except possessive, which is thine (or thy).

Right?

In the slang, "thee" is even used instead of "thy".  For example, "take thee coat; it's cold out there."

Bill - People are always trying to simplify aren't they? Barb



Barbara Smith said:

Bill - People are always trying to simplify aren't they? Barb

Da!

An incident from Ephraim Bowles, his Quaker Heritage, a combination biography/journal of a (primarily) 19th Century Kansas Conservative Friend:

"Father was, of course, known in the town [of Galena KS] as a Friend.  One day someone else went the round [of selling fruit] in Father's stead, and one little fellow inquired, 'How is Mr. Thee?' no doubt quoting the older ones."

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