Stacey asked:

God's teeth! Isn't anyone else bothered by how the inhabitants of London speak modern English? I mean sure, it's maybe a wee bit more formal than Diana's, but otherwise quite obviously not Elizabethan English. (Does Harkness not think we can handle it?)

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K. Cortese Ms. Harkness actually comments on the difficulty of understanding Elizabethan English through Diana whose voice we are reading. No, I can assure you that the majority of "us" cannot handle it and would toss the book aside rather than attempt to plow through it. I've ready Chaucer ONCE because I simply did not want to "handle it". So, no, not bothered at all. In fact, I thought it was rather clever of her to note the character's difficulty with Elizabethan English and how long it took the character to be able to converse and be understood.
Paulien So, if you say that the Elizabethan Londoners' speech should've been written in Early Modern English... Does that mean that everyone at Sept-Tours should've been written in French, Greek and Latin? Because at one point Philippe points out to Diana that they switched those three languages in one conversation.

It's not a point of Harkness thinking we can't handle it (and frankly, did you ever read Shakespeare?? Early Modern English would've made those 800 pages last FOREVER). It's a fantasy novel, not a linguistic research of how the Elizabethans spoke.
Shaye I had a hard enough time grasping the snippets of poetry, so no I was NOT bothered at all. And since 95% of the book was in 1590, it would have made the read regrettably, horrible. I like the story so far and would have had to stop reading.
Liz Ellor The language of Chaucer is NOT the language of Elizabethan-era England. The language of Shakespeare is what we're talking about (and as that is poetic language, it would be rather different than spoken English). It would be insanely difficult to re-create, so I don't blame the author for not attempting to do so. Probably the wisest choice made in the entire series.
Kate I agree with Shaye. I don't know a lot about Elizabethan language, and it would have made the story a lot harder for me to absorb, had the jargon of the time been used more often.
Eva Muhlhause I have to admit I'm glad it's legible, I'm not up for trying to chew my way through 16th century English
Dave Sause Stacey, it seems like nobody but you was bothered.
Joann Dunnavant I think that the series is supposed to be approachable to a larger audience. There are many readers who would lose interest had it truly switched. Look at the reviews. Quite a few people already found the book droll. Just imagine if it were written in the lingo of the period. I agree with K. Cortese- I needed the annotated Canterbury Tales in college because I am just not that sophisticated.
Harkness is a history professor, so I did feel as though I learned so much about Elizabethan England while reading this one. I was constantly steeling away from the book to look up the various "who's who" of characters in the book.
Irene Creveling I am personally grateful she used modern English. This is fiction and i just wanted to enjoy the book and not get brain aneurism in the process. Elizabethan England didn't have dragons either, so what’s your point?
Martha The inhabitants of London don't speak modern English any more than the inhabitants of Sept-Tours or Prague do. You're reading a translation of what they say, not a verbatim transcription.
Jo 'kittykat' Tortitude Not at all. The novel would not have been readable for the vast majority of people for the most part if the language was historically correct.
DeeRae That didn't, but it bothered me a little how receptive everyone was to how brazen, educated, etc. Diana was. I know, I know, it said they didn't like it, but honestly I thought they'd be a lot more miffed.
MJ no, it doesn't bother me.
Lowed I'd have to agree with the four answers Stacey. It will be a struggle for some of us who's not well acquainted with Elizatbethan English.
Robbie G I am grateful that the author DID NOT use Elizabethan language for her Elizabethan characters. It would have made getting through this volume extremely difficult for me and at some point I would have put the book down out of sheer frustration. So...thank you Ms. Harkness!
Michelle Since your question pertains to semantics, Elizabethan English, the English used in most of the novel and that of Shakespeare is Modern English. What we read in literature of the time or in plays like Shakespeare and Marlow are written in a poetic nature, not how the average person spoke.

Had Harkness written this novel as if she were Shakespeare, it would have failed to grasp the attention of the majority of readers.
Virginia LaBella I loved this series & would not have wanted th miss a bit of it to the difficulties of understanding Elizabethan English. You seem to be alone in your thinking.
Genevieve Plante Elizabethan English is way different than modern English, would have be a pain to read that many pages. You don't have to read that far back, just read an Agatha Christie novel, specially the old one in the 30's and you'll have a plethora of expression and words that has different meaning today.

It's a fantasy novel, the main characters are a witch and a vampire so that everyone speaks modern English while they are time travelling doesn't bother me at all.
Meredith While it would have been cumbersome to have everyone speak in a fully Elizabethan style, I agree that having a little bit of flavor of it would have been helpful. Particularly in the audio, the absolute lack of Elizabethan flavor when there's a bit of French flavor, etc., as well as the minutia details of culture Harkness has, having no flavor was odd to me.
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by Deborah Harkness (Goodreads Author)
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