Weekly Story: Mr. Sheffelde Asks for Eggys

Democratic Thinker, Weekly Story

In 1490, William Caxton—England’s first printer—publishes Eneydos, in the prologue of which he relates a now well-known story of two people who speak the same language but who fail to understand each other.

Mr. Sheffelde Asks for Eggys.


AND certaynly our langage now vsed varyeth ferre from that whiche was vsed and spoken whan I was borne. For we englysshe men ben borne vnder the domynacyon of the mone, whiche is neuer stedfaste but euer wauerynge wexynge one season and waneth & dyscreaseth another season. And that comyn englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from a nother. In so moche that in my dayes happened that certayn marchauntes were in a shippe in tamyse, for to haue sayled ouer the see into zelande and for lacke of wynde, thei taryed atte forlond, and wente to lande for to refreshe them; And one of theym named sheffelde, a mercer, cam in-to an hows and axed for mete; and specyally he axyd after eggys; And the goode wyf anewerde, that she coude speke no frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry, for he also coude speke no frenshe, but wolde haue hadde egges and she but couldn’t get vnderstode hym not And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolde haue eyren then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel.

William Caxton.

Contributed by Democratic Thinker.