Similarity Chain


they have so fraied us with bull beggers, spirits, witches, urchens, elves, hags, fairies, satyrs, pans, faunes, sylens, kit with the cansticke, tritons, centaurs, dwarfes, giants, imps, calcars, conjurors, nymphes, changlings, Incubus, Robin good-fellowe, the spoorne, the mare, the man in the oke, the hell waine, the fierdrake, the puckle, Tom thombe, hob gobblin, Tom tumbler, boneles, and other such bugs, that we are afraid of our owne shadows.


Reginald Scot,  Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584


Michael Ostling and Richard Forest, Goblins, owles sprites’: Discerning early modern English preternatural beings through collocational analysis


Interesting discussion on the use of these ‘similarity chains’  in the above source. I have always found such things fascinating. This one seems intended to be read some look as if they were designed to be spoken and heard.

I always wonder if they may have something to do with rhetorical styles used by preachers (I have no idea) ?

My training in learning to speak in a declamatory style always kicks in when I come across these passages. Its a challenge to get the inflection range right but for some reason you always want to try and bring it to life in speech.

 I suppose here you want to make every link in the chain come alive as a distinct being in the mind of the listener.

Scot is concerned with disenchantment but placing such a spell on an audience demonstrates that such things live on the breath and are alive in such moments. Can be used to illustrate what such things are and where they come from.





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