Writing Frog

By Loren Leah

I don't know about the rest of you, but one of my biggest pet peeves in a Chrono Trigger fanfic is when the author makes a stab at writing Frog's Middle English dialect, and absolutely flubs it. So, I've decided to write this little thingie to try and help some of you guys out there.

Before I begin, lemme reiterate that Frog speaks Middle English. Believe me. Middle English is thees and thous and the sort of stuff characters would say in Shakespeare. Actual Old English looks more like German, and is in general just hard for modern English speakers to read. So, Middle English. (Don't feel bad if you didn't know the difference; I've made the same mistake myself in the past.) Now that I've got that little aside off my chest...

"Magus, thine sword Masamune shall defeat ye"
Or, Proper Use of Pronouns

'Thine' means 'yours'. Let me repeat this. 'Thine' = 'yours'. ('Thy' also means 'yours'. They're interchangeable.) So how do you say the words 'my' and 'mine' in Middle English? Actually, they're exactly the same. ^^ ('My' and 'mine' are also interchangeable.)

And guess what? Frog shouldn't always and exclusively use thees and thous in place of the modern 'you', either. Let's take a look at the following example of a fanfic scene:

Frog walked up to Queen Leene and bowed deeply.

"My queen!" he said reverently. "'Tis my greatest honor but to serve thee!"

Leene scowled, grabbed the nearest large trout, and proceeded to whack her knight upside the head for being so disrespectful.

If you've ever studied a foreign language like, say, Spanish or something, you have probably noticed that they have different pronouns for different levels of politeness. (i.e. in Spanish, 'tu' is informal, and 'usted' is formal; or there's all the pronouns in Japanese; etc....) Middle English had the same thing. So, 'thou' is informal speech. When talking to somebody important like his Queen, Frog ought to be calling them 'you', which is formal.

"Ah, thy beauty is like a summer's day"
Or, Making it Sound Good

Well, the art of writing good dialogue is a subject for another tutorial entirely. But for the purposes of writing semi-authentic Middle English, my best advice is to read as much of it as you can (or as much as you can stand, whichever is the case ^_^;). I apologize if you hated Shakespeare in your high school English class, but experience is the best way to get a feel for writing Frog's speech properly. If that's too much work for you, I guess you could always ask somebody who knows the lang age a bit to look your work over and make sure Frog sounds as authentic as possible.

"Crono, wilt thou spar with me?"
Or, Let's Practice Rewriting a Scene

If you know a little about Middle English, but you aren't totally comfortable writing it, you might consider this technique: Write Frog's dialogue in modern English first, then go back and 'fix' it. So, let's have a look at another scene.

Frog drew his sword and walked slowly toward Crono.

"Wanna try your luck with me?" The knight slid into fighting stance with an amphibian grin on his face. "I'm going to kick your butt!"

Crono laughed. "We'll see about that, Frog."

"Don't underestimate your opponent, kid! I've seen plenty of good fighters in my lifetime who got beaten just because of their* overblown egos."

Now that you've written your dialogue, just go back and figure out how to make it into semi-convincing Middle English.

Frog drew his sword and walked slowly toward Crono.

"Dost thou wish to test thine luck with me?" The knight slid into fighting stance with an amphibian grin on his face. "I shall smite thee!"

Crono laughed. "We'll see about that, Frog."

"Underestimate not thy opponent, lad! Many a fighter I hath seen in my span of years who wast defeated simply through his* overpowering vanity."

Don't be afraid to get a little creative. Hey, haul out a dictionary if you have to. :)

*Notice that in the modern English version, "their" has become an acceptable substitute for the non-PC "his", or the overlong "his or her". However, in Middle English, the male "his" and related words were always used as the default pronouns where gender was unknown/varied. Something to watch out for.

"But... but... I understand thee not!"
Or, If You Could Use Some More Help

Any more questions? Feel free to ask. I don't know everything--far from it--but I'll try to help you out with what meager knowledge I do possess. And since I know there'll be at least one person wondering: I may be willing to proofread the Frog-speech in your fanfic, if you ask nicely, and if I like the story. Never hurts to ask, though. n_n

I hope my little mini-FAQ was helpful. However, if you're sitting here at the end of it thinking, "I could've written a much better guide than this," well then... do so! I'm sure everyone in the CT fandom will appreciate it. ^_^

~Loren Leah

IcyBrian's Fanfic Resource -- Chrono Trigger
IcyBrian's Fanfic Resource

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