Let us make a match at tennis

Browsing through John Florio’s English-Italian dictionary and phrasebook, I discovered this charming conversation between the fictional Thomas, John, and Henry. Florio gives these characters typical English exchanges, which he then translates into Italian to enable people to learn the language. Their conversation reveals fascinating everyday detail about late 16th and early 17th century life.

Thomas: Let us goe and plaie at tennis
Henry: One of us must staie out then
John: I will stay out, plaie you two
Thomas: We will cast lotts
John: No, let me be rather a looker on than a plaier
Henry: Go to, since you will have it so, let us two plaie
Thomas: What odds will you give me?
Henry: I will not plaie unless I plaie even hand
John: You may plaie even hand well enough
Thomas: I am content for a set or two
Henry: To what tennis court shall we goe?
Thomas: To charter house court
Henry: Trulie it is the fairest court about London
Thomas: But what shall master John doo in the mean while?
John: I will goe with you to see you plaie
Henry: You shall looke on and be our judge

At the court:

Thomas: What ho boy, bring hither some balles and some rackets
Boy: How manie are you my masters?
Henry: We are but two that will plaie
Boy: Will you plaie in set?
Thomas: Yea marrie, therefore give us good balles
Boy: Here are two dozen of faire and white balles
Thomas: Let us keepe the lawes of the court
John: That is, stake money under the line is it not so?
Thomas, Yea sir, you hit it right
Henry: Here is my monie, now stake you
Thomas: Whose lot is it to plaie?
Henry: Mine, for you are at the house
Thomas: Plaie then, and give me a faire balle

Thomas: A losse: I have fifteene
Henry: Fifteen for fifteene
Thomas: I am thirtie
Henry: Is that balle under or over?
John: Methinks it is under more than a handfull.
Henry: You have fortie then, goe to, plaie
Thomas: And I a dewes then.
Henry: I have the advantage
John: That was a verie faire stroake
Thomas: Everie man is against me.
Henry: I have wonne the first game.
Thomas: This is my woonted ill luck
Henry: I sweate, and am all in a water
Thomas: Let us give over plaie if you will
John: Who must paie for the balles?
Thomas I must, how manie dozens have we had?
Boy: Three dozen and a halfe
Thomas: Here is monie

Henry: Whether shall we goe now?
Thomas: Ile goe home to mine owne chamber
John: What to doo there?
Thomas: To rest a while, for I am wearie.
John: Then let us goe to my lodging.
Henry: It will be best since it is not farre hence.
Thomas: Let us goe apace then, for it is late.

I’ll post more entertaining and illuminating chit-chat from Thomas, Henry, and John soon.

More from Florio – Master Andrew, will it please you to eate an egg? and Will you wear any weapons to daye?

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

  • May 27, 2011 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    Lovely isn’t it. Such a gem. I’ll be posting more soon.

  • May 26, 2011 - 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful. Thank you.

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