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Shakespeare’s language
 

Shakespeare’s language

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Background on Shakespeare's language, including tips

Background on Shakespeare's language, including tips

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    Shakespeare’s language Shakespeare’s language Presentation Transcript

    • Shakespeare’s Language
    • The Elizabethans
      • They loved language
      • Even poorly-written plays usually rhymed and alliterated
      • Sound of language was more important than logic of sentence structure
        • E.g. they changed word order or repeated words for emphasis
    • William Shakespeare
      • Introduced nearly 3,000 words into English
      • His vocabulary is upward of 29,000 words (quadruple that of an average well-educated person!)
    • So… why is it so hard to understand?
      • Many words have shifted meaning since Shakespeare’s day, or have fallen out of use
      • Letters, syllables, or whole words were sometimes omitted
        • 'tis: it is o'er: over ne'er: never
        • e'er / ere: ever oft: often e'en: even
      • Word order was more flexible.
        • I ate the sandwich. I the sandwich ate. Ate the sandwich I. Ate I the sandwich. The sandwich I ate. The sandwich ate I.
      • Pronunciation was quite different from ours, so Shakespeare’s perfect rhymes usually are imperfect rhymes to us
        • love / prove
      • Shakespeare wrote dramatic poetry most of the time, but sometimes included prose
        • Poetry was mostly in blank verse (unrhymed lines of iambic pentametre)
        • Poetry was sometimes in rhyming couplets, sonnet form, etc.
        • Poetry usually used for passages of high feeling and increased intensity
        • Prose often used for wit and play, or lower-status characters
    • Some Tips
      • Thou vs. You
        • Thou = an informal address to one's friends or social inferiors
        • You = a formal address to strangers and social superiors
      • Forsooth = No kidding
      • Marry!, By my faith = Wow
      • Alack, Alackaday, Alas, Fie, Out upon it! = Darn it!
      • God's wounds, S'wounds, Zounds = swearing
      • Prating = Babbling, talking too much
      • Perchance = Maybe
      • Forswear = To lie or cheat
      • Betimes = Very early in the morning
      With thanks to: http://www.bardweb.net/language.html Best, Michael. Shakespeare's Life and Times . Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria: Victoria, BC, 2001-2005. <http://ise.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/>. http://www.shakespearehigh.com/classroom/guide/page1.shtml http://www.krucli.com/shakespeare_intro's.htm
    • What do these two passages have in common?
      • Lord Chief Justice: &quot;Your means are very slender and your waste great.&quot; Falstaff (an obese and high-living man): &quot;I would that my means were greater and my waist slenderer.&quot;
      Romeo and Juliet: Mercutio is a young man with wit and little seriousness. As he lies dying: &quot;Ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man.&quot;
    • They both contains puns.
      • Lord Chief Justice: &quot;Your means are very slender and your waste great.&quot; Falstaff (an obese and high-living man): &quot;I would that my means were greater and my waist slenderer.&quot;
      Romeo and Juliet: Mercutio is a young man with wit and little seriousness. As he lies dying: &quot;Ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man.&quot;
    • What device is Shakespeare using in these passages? &quot;Death, death, O amiable lovely death.&quot; &quot;Parting is such sweet sorrow.&quot;
    • They are both oxymorons. &quot; Death , death, O amiable lovely death.&quot; &quot;Parting is such sweet sorrow .&quot;
    • What do these passages illustrate?
      • Shylock, a character in The Merchant of Venice , feels mistreated and says: &quot;You foot me as you spurn a stranger cur.&quot;
      When Cleopatra thinks she is the victim of some fast talk from Antony, she says: &quot;He words me, girls, he words me.&quot;
    • They both are inventive with language.
      • Shylock, a character in The Merchant of Venice , feels mistreated and says: &quot;You foot me as you spurn a stranger cur.&quot;
      When Cleopatra thinks she is the victim of some fast talk from Antony, she says: &quot;He words me, girls, he words me.&quot;
    • What do these passages illustrate? King Henry IV, who was not fat, was called &quot;portly.&quot; In The Merchant of Venice , a servant who intends to hurry tells his mistress he will go with all &quot;convenient&quot; speed. When Antony makes an alliance with Octavius in Julius Caesar, he calls him his &quot;competitor.&quot;
    • They contain words that have shifted meaning. King Henry IV, who was not fat, was called &quot; portly .“ (stately; imposing) In The Merchant of Venice , a servant who intends to hurry tells his mistress he will go with all &quot; convenient &quot; speed. (near at hand) When Antony makes an alliance with Octavius in Julius Caesar, he calls him his &quot; competitor .“ (one who strives in common/agrees)
    • What are these passages examples of? King Henry IV says the soil of England will no longer &quot;daub her lips with her children's blood.&quot; In A Midsummers' Night Dream , the course of young love is described as &quot;swift as a shadow, short as any dream, brief as lightning.&quot; In Romeo and Juliet , Romeo says, &quot;But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.&quot;
    • They all use metaphors. King Henry IV says the soil of England will no longer &quot;daub her lips with her children's blood.&quot; In A Midsummers' Night Dream , the course of young love is described as &quot;swift as a shadow, short as any dream, brief as lightning.&quot; In Romeo and Juliet , Romeo says, &quot;But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.&quot;
    •