Shakespeare’s English Shakespeare did not write in Old English or Middle English. Shakespeare wrote in Early Modern English. Early Modern English is only one generation of language from the English you speak today!
Shakespeare’s Contributions Shakespeare only had an 8th grade education. There were no dictionaries. Shakespeare is credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with the introduction of nearly 3,000 words into the language. His vocabulary numbers upward of 17,000 words (quadruple that of an average, well-educated conversationalist in the language)
A Few Words By Shakespeare Accused Disgraceful Addiction To drug Admirable Excitement Assassination Fashionable Bloodstained Fortune-teller Cold-blooded Gloomy Coldhearted Mimic Deafening Obscene
Phrases Coined by Shakespeare As good luck would have it Full circle Be-all and the end-all Good riddance Break the ice It was Greek to me Eaten me out of house and Heart of gold home In a pickle Elbow room Kill with kindness Fools paradise Lie low For goodness sake Love is blind Not slept one wink
Shakespeare’s English In the England of Shakespeares time, English was a lot more flexible as a language. The most common simple sentence in modern English follows a familiar pattern: Subject (S), Verb (V), Object (O). (Will caught the ball). However, Shakespeare was much more at liberty to switch these three basic components Shakespeare used a great deal of SOV inversion (Will the ball caught).
Shakespeare’s English Switching the S-V-O order to S-O-V made it easier for Shakespeare to rhyme and to manipulate his words to flow easily in poems and plays. Shakespeare could effectively place the metrical stress wherever he needed it most by switching word order Shakespeare also used an O-S-V construction (The ball Will caught) for the same reasons.
Inverted Word Order Lady Montague: O where is Romeo, saw you him today? Right glad I am he was not at this fray. Translation: O where is Romeo; did you see him today? I am very glad he was not in this fight.
Inverted Word Order ―Thouhast by moonlight at her window sung.‖ Translation: Youhave sung at her window in the moonlight. From A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare’s Language in PlaysThe language used by Shakespeare in his plays is in one of three forms Prose Rhymed Verse Blank Verse
Prose Prose is writing which resembles everyday speech Prose is often used by Shakespeare for lower-class characters in his plays Prose lacks meter and rhyme and is informal Shakespeare blends prose with poetry in his plays
Rhymed Verse The majority of Shakespeare’s plays contain rhymed verse which looks like poetry Characters– especially of the higher classes--speak in poetic form Their words have form, meter, and rhyme Rhymed verse in Shakespeares plays is usually in rhymed couplets, i.e. two successive lines of verse of which the final words rhyme with another.
Iambic Pentameter Iambic pentameter is meter that Shakespeare nearly always when writing in verse. Most of his plays were written in iambic pentameter. Iambic Pentameter has: Ten syllables in each line Five pairs of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables The rhythm in each line sounds like: ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba- BUM / ba-BUM
Iambic Pentameter Example Examples of Iambic Pentameter: If mu- / -sic be / the food / of love, / play on Is this / a dag- / -ger I / see be- / fore me? Each pair of syllables is called an iamb. You’ll notice that each iamb is made up of one unstressed and one stressed beat (ba-BUM).
Rhymed Verse in Iambic Pentameter Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mindAnd therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.Nor hath Loves mind of any judgment taste;Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste:And therefore is Love said to be a child,Because in choice he is so oft beguiled. - from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Blank Verse Blank verse refers to unrhymed iambic pentameter. resembles prose in that the final words of the lines do not rhyme in any regular pattern There is meter: a recognizable rhythm in a line of verse consisting of a pattern of regularly recurring stressed and unstressed syllables. Most lines are in iambic pentameter.
Blank Verse BLANK VERSE is employed in a wide range of situations because it comes close to the natural speaking rhythms of English but raises it above the ordinary without sounding artificial Rather than prose, blank verse may suggest a refinement of character. Many of Shakespeares most famous speeches are written in blank verse.
Blank Verse ExampleROMEO: But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,Who is already sick and pale with grief,That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.Be not her maid, since she is envious;Her vestal livery is but sick and greenAnd none but fools do wear it; cast it off. from Romeo and Juliet
Prose, Rhymed Verse or Blank Verse? Juliet: Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day. It was the nightingale, and not the lark, That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear; Nightly she sings on yond pomegranate tree Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
Prose, Rhymed Verse or Blank Verse? Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir? Sampson: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir. Gregory: Do you quarrel, sir? Abraham: Quarrel, sir? No, sir.
Prose, Rhymed Verse or Blank Verse? Full fathom five thy father lies Of his bones are coral made Those are pearls that were his eyes Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea change Into something rich and strange.
Prose, Rhymed Verse or Blank Verse? NURSE: He was a merry man—took up the child. ―Yea,‖ quoth he, ―Dost thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit, Wilt thou not, Jule?‖ and, by my holy dame, The pretty wretch left crying and said ―ay.‖
Prose, Rhymed Verse or Blank Verse? ROMEO: Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiopes ear, Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
Prose, Rhymed Verse or Blank Verse? ROMEO Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too? JULIET Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer. ROMEO O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do. They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.