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Shakespeare's language

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Vivien S

on 21 October 2012

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Transcript of Shakespeare's language

Let there be light! language techniques Elizabethan English - language was used to create a certain atmosphere
- often the words indicate the action clearly, nevertheless there are stage directions
- three main techniques of Shakespeare in dramas: Language into drama Why should I care??? Shakespeare's language -sound of language more important than formal structure
- language had to fit the poetic needs (e.g. metre)
- taken from the spoken language of those days
- no necessity of whole understanding, context is important!
- relatively limited vocabulary
invention of new words - In Shakespeare's time language was developing very quickly
- Poets and playwrights made up words, adapted old ones, changed old meanings
- words were taken from other languages (Italian, Greek, French, Dutch, Latin)
- Shakespeare used many compound words, synonyms and extensions of words

Examples: manager, dialogue, sea-swallowed, O'er-prized, buzzer-gossiper, assassin-assassination Inventing Words many words are known today, but in a DIFFERENT MEANING! Examples Shakespeare vs. modern meaning silly





let simple, innocent


dress, garment, clothes



hinder - use of emotionally charged words and phrases
- creates mental pictures in the imagination
- images play a key part in every Shakespeare play
- gives insight into characters' feelings and thoughts
- Shakespeare uses imagery from nature, e.g. sun, moon and stars, the seasons, animals
- Shakespeare's imagery consists mainly of metaphors and similes Imagery he compares society with a colony of honey bees Example from "King Henry V" For so work the honey-bees,
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king and officers of sorts;
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home,
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad,
Others, like soldiers, armèd in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor. (1.2.186) Words of Mark Antony over Caesar's dead body Example from "Julius Caesar" O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood! - Word play and puns were very popular in the Elizabethan Era
- Ambiguity of words was used to cause effects Puns and Word plays Armardo: By the North Pole, I do challenge thee.
Costard: I will not fight with a pole, like a Northern man.

Pistol: To England will I steal, and there I'll steal.

Othello: (carrying a candle and about to kill Desdemona) Put out the light, and then put out the light.

Mercutio: (near to death, he cannot resist making a pun) Ask for me tomorrow, and you will find me a grave man. Examples - Shakespeare introduced nearly 1,500 new words into the English language
- hundreds of Shakespearean expressions have become part of everyday language


It is Greek to me
He wears his heart on his sleeve
It makes your hair stand on end
There's something in the wind
She kills him with kindness
That's too much of a good thing Modern Usage of Shakespeare's Language you use this expression...

...to describe a person who makes his feelings obvious to everyone
...about someone who is too friendly to another person
...if you do not understand something at all
...if something nice becomes unpleasant because you have more than you need
...to express how you may react when something makes you feel afraid
...if you feel that something is not right Now Then Basic Elizabethan Terms Yes
Good morning!
Beautiful young woman
Never Aye/Yay
Nay/Indeed not
God ye good den!
Good morrow!
N'er thou = "du"
thee = "dich" (objective pronoun)
thy/thine = "dein/e" The trouble with the second person I love thee thy before consonants: thy friend
thine before vowels: thine apple different verb endings:
2nd Person:
- st/ -est
"thou lookest"
3rd Person:
"he/she/it looketh" ye = "Sie" (plural pronoun and formal singular pronoun) verbal exchange between two or more characters about their thoughts and feelings
different tones, rhythms and moods
sometimes quite different effects (e.g. a chorus instead of a conversation, dialogue is more like a monologue because the characters speak more to themselves) Dialogue in a Shakespeare play talking to oneself is an accepted convention
soliloquy = internal debate spoken by a character who is (or believes to be) alone on stage
characters tell the truth
feelings and inner thoughts are revealed
characters declare their true nature to the audience Soliloquy Shakespeare creates characters in three major ways:
1. Their actions
2. What is said about them
3. Through their own language
every character has his/her distinctive voice
most Shakespeare characters have different sides to their personality Character Thank you for your attention!

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