A feast of languages
[To Moth] Chirrah!
Quare chirrah, not sirrah?
Men of peace, well encount'red.
Most military sir, salutation.
[Aside to Costard] They have been at a great feast of
and stol'n the scraps.
O, they have liv'd long on the alms-basket of words.
The schoolmaster Holofernes and the braggart soldier Don Armado
engage in their favorite affectation: perversion of speech and
indulgence in "ink-horn terms"—studied archaisms and foreign
importations. Holofernes' mixing of Latin ("Quare," which
means "why") and English is typical, as is Armado's affected "Men
of peace," his euphemism for "civilians." Moth (Armado's page) and
Costard (a country clown) deliver their common-man's diagnosis of
this linguistic disease: the pedant and the braggart have, like
poor beggars, stolen the leftovers from some big "feast of
languages." Their mottled patchwork of dialects is like an
indiscriminate hodgepodge of discards from discrete courses. An
"alms-basket" is a basket used to collect charitable donations for
the poor; Armado and Holofernes have long dipped into it for their