The Language of Salem


Miller used evidence from the real written dispositions (accusations) made by Abigail and Mary Lewis against other citizens of Salem during the witch trials to try and recreate the language used in 1692. Here are some examples:


Miller uses archaic (old) words:

'bid'                               (told)

'Aye' and 'Nay'               (for 'yes' and 'no')

'hearty'                          (well)

'blink'                            (ignore)

'Goody'              (Mrs)

'open with me'                (tell the truth)


Miller alters the normal use of the verb ‘to be’:

'it were' instead of 'it was' and

'there be' instead of 'there is'.


Miller makes use of double negatives – often to add emphasis:

'he cannot discover no medicine'

'I don't compact with no devil'.


Miller changes the normal word order of sentences:

'I like not to search a house'.


Miller uses the second person – ‘you’ – again to add emphasis:

'Let you strike out',

'Be you foolish'.


Miller often drops the final g’ from ‘ing’ verbs: