[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 languages,
and stol'n the scraps.

O, they have liv'd long on the alms-basket of words.

Love's Labor's Lost Act 5, scene 1, 32-39

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 hand-me-down discourse.

Themes: language

Speakers: Armado, Holofernes, Moth, Costard

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