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Shakespearean Language

Year 9 Macbeth Intro

Graham Rutland

on 7 January 2015

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Transcript of Shakespearean Language

LO (3-lesson): Apply the 2nd person familiar pronoun, verb form, sentence structure and verbal expression of Early Modern English to Modern English
Shakespearean Language
Work in pairs and write down short answers to the following question:

Students ALWAYS groan when they get told the class is going to read a Shakespeare play.

What is it you find most offputting about Shakespeare's work?
What language did Shakespeare and the people around him speak?

Hands up!
Did anybody say 'the language' or
'the words'?
Sorry, you're wrong!

Shakespeare actually spoke a version of English that is closer to our own than you think.
Old English?
c. 450-1150 AD
Late 11th-Early 15th Century
OLD English - I bet you can't read this (although anyone who can speak German has a big advantage!)
Middle English, whilst still not the easiest to read, is a lot closer to Modern English, and easier to understand than Old.
Where did 'English' even
come from?
Did you say 'England'?

Wrong again!

Try Germany!
Modern English enters usage.
Shakespeare helped create
the very language we speak
If you put your hand up for any of
those phrases, you can speak Shakespearean. Apart from a few small changes down the years, you and he speak the SAME language!
For once, I am happy for you to pass notes to one another - in fact, it is vital to the task!

BUT, for this game to work, it really DOES need to be done in SILENCE.

Write and pass a note to your partner to start a conversation. Write your response and pass it back to keep the conversation going. Make sure to use the words 'you' and 'your' a lot.


A: What do you want to do after school?

B: I don't know. Do you want to come to my house?

A: Ok. Can we play with your Xbox?

B: Sure, what game do you want to play?
Passing notes...
If talking in the 1st person (I, me etc.) or 3rd (he/she/it), little has changed for pronouns since Shakespeare.

The only difference is that you can say 'mine' as well as 'my' (e.g. my Xbox, mine Xbox)

The 2nd person however is a little bit different, but really only when you are talking to one person.
e.g. Thou are annoying me.
Thou are my friend.
e.g. Ye be quiet, 9A!
Ye are all invited!
e.g. I have a present for thee.
I will come with thee.
Same as Modern English! This is how all the 'th' words disappeared!
Same as Modern English! This is how all the 'th' words disappeared!
e.g. Where is thine sister?
Can we use thy PS3?
Go through your conversation and change any
uses of 'you' and 'your' to the correct Shakespearean
A: What do THOU want to do after school?

B: I don't know. Do THOU want to come to MINE house?

A: Ok. Can we play with THINE Xbox?

B: Sure, what game do THOU want to play?
Does it sound a bit weird?
It will. You are using Shakespearean pronouns with Modern verbs. We can fix that right now.

Take any verb EXCEPT infinitives (to play, to come, to do) and add -st or -th to the end. Sometimes you will need to use
-eth or -est instead. If you aren't sure, try each one until you end up with the easiest word to read!
A: What DOST THOU want to do after school?

B: I don't know. Do THOU WANST to come to MINE house?

A: Ok. Can we PLAYEST with THINE Xbox?

B: Sure, what game do THOU WANTST to play?
Now we will hear some of your conversations!

The truth is, you already knew how to speak the same English that Shakespeare did. It just needed a few changes!
Time to hear some of
the conversations!
WITHOUT looking at your book, what can you remember? 'Translate' these sentences from Modern into Early Modern (Shakespeare's) English!

1) You said you would do it.
2) Can I come with you to your house?
3) You are all fantastic. I wanted you to know I am proud of your work.
Take a brief trip
back to the Murder Scene...
What can you remember about complex sentences?

because it is raining

we can't go out

How many different sentences can we form with this pair?
Hopefully you remembered: 2! 'Because it is raining, we can't go out' and 'We can't go out, because it is raining'!
Shakespeare's sentences are no different.
Open the envelopes - try and reassemble the sentence so that it makes sense...

This is the order in which each sentence is written in Shakespeare's plays.

1) A glooming peace this morning with it brings. (Romeo and Juliet)

2) That handkerchief did an Egyptian to my mother give." (Othello)

3) Thy shape invisible retain thou still. (The Tempest)

Many languages that influence English (like Latin) had NO rules on word order

puella portat aquam
puella aquam portat
portat puella aquam
portat aquam puella
aquam puella portat
aquam portat puella

Are ALL Latin for the SAME THING:
the girl carries the water!
If you ended up with a different order to Shakespeare, that is fine. Your sentence isn't worse, just different! It means you have understood the order of a Shakespearean sentence and will be able to pick through others more easily!
Return to yesterday's silent conversations and change the word order so that they still make sense but sound more authentic!


A: What after school dost thou wanst to do?
B: Know I do not. To my house dost thou wanst to come?
A: Okay. With thine Xbox can we playest?
B: Sure: To play what game dost thou wantst?
Time to listen again!

How successfully has each pair...

...used the 2nd person pronoun?
...used verb inflections?
...used an unusual word order?

The truth is, you already knew how to rearrange word order in sentences, especially if you speak a second language or can write in complex sentences!
Time to hear some of those
conversations again!
Reassemblest this Shakespearean sentence so that it still maketh sense!

self true this be above
thine own to all
Shakespeare endeth up with "This
above all: to thine own self be true."
Art there a modern phrase like this?
Remember thou well, it is okay if thou endeth up with something different!
I have given you a list of Shakespearean words.

DON'T try to learn them - they are rare even in Shakespeare's plays.

That doesn't mean that you can't take a look through them.

1) EXPAND your conversations into full pieces.
2) Use at least TEN Shakespearean words or phrases. You may need to start again, which is fine.
3) EXTENSION: See if you can work in any Shakespearean insults!
Prithee, now wouldst we hear of thine brave conversations. Be not a recreant; perforce, to perform are all affined! Anatomize but tax not your fellow wenches and caitiffs!

It turns out you could speak Early Modern English all along!
One last performance!
'Translateth' these sentences to Early Modern English.

Forgetteth not the order to change, thine 'you' or 'your' to replace and thy verbs to end -th or -st.

Thou wilt need thy vocabulary list to help thee.

1) Maybe we could play with your Xbox until later.
2) I will analyse your handwriting in detail.
3) Yes, you are a handsome man!
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