Understanding Shakespeare*s language

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UNDERSTANDING
SHAKESPEARE’S LANGUAGE
Translating Today’s Lingo into
Shakespeare’s Language
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For this activity, you and a partner will pass notes to one
another. You will be writing a SILENT conversation.
We will then translate this into a Shakespearean conversation.
Try to keep this conversation short, about 6 exchanges.
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Example
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What do you want to do after school?
I don’t know. Do you want to come over to my house?
Okay. Can we play with your Playstation?
Sure, what game do you want to play?
Halo 3, because you can play by yourself or with other players?
Good, I’ve been wanting to play you. I bet I beat you.
You talk smack!
Got your example?
…let’s move on to translating!
Translating the Nouns & Pronouns in
Our Silent Conversations
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When “you” is used as a singular subject in a
sentence, it becomes “thou” – “Thou art a villain.”
When “you” is used as an object in a sentence, it
becomes “thee” – “Come, let me clutch thee.”
When you is used as a plural pronoun (you all), it
becomes “ye” – “Ye shall know me.”
When “your” is used as a possessive pronoun, it
becomes “thy” – “What is thy name?”
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EXCEPT when “your” is used as a possessive pronoun
before a pronoun that begins with a vowel sound (think
“a” versus “an” – “a dog” versus “an airdale”), it
becomes “thine” – “To thine own self be true”
Translation of Our Example
What do thou want to do after school?
• I don’t know. Do thou want to come over to my house?
• Okay. Can we play with thy Playstation?
• Sure, what game do thou want to play?
• Halo 3, because thou can play by thine own self or with
players?
• Good, I’ve been wanting to play thee. I bet I beat thee.
• Thou talk smack!
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other
Give it a Try on Your Conversation
Here’s the key again:
• When “you” is used as a singular subject in a sentence,
it becomes “thou” – “Thou art a villain.”
• When “you” is used as an object in a sentence, it
becomes “thee” – “Come, let me clutch thee.”
• When you is used as a plural pronoun (you all), it
becomes “ye” – “Ye shall know me.”
• When “your” is used as a possessive pronoun, it
becomes “thy” – “What is thy name?”
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EXCEPT when “your” is used as a possessive pronoun before
a pronoun that begins with a vowel sound (think “a” versus
“an” – “a dog” versus “an airdale”), it becomes “thine” –
“To thine own self be true”
What about verbs?
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Usually they simply add an -est or –st to a verb
These endings were often used with the 2nd person pronouns (you, your, yours).
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Ex. “Do” changes to “dost”
The verb “are” changes to “art.”
Other verbs sometimes take the ending –th
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Ex. “Has” changes to “hath”
Person Case
Singular
Plural
1st
I love
we love
2nd
thou lovest
ye love
3rd
he loveth
they love
What about verbs?
What dost thou want to do after school?
• I don’t know. Dost thou want to come over to my house?
• Okay. Can we play with thy Playstation?
• Sure, what game dost thou want to play?
• Halo 3, because thou canst play by thine own self or with
players?
• Good, I’ve been wanting to play thee. I bet I beat thee.
• Thou talkest smack!
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other
Try your own!
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Usually they simply add an -est or –st to a verb
These endings were often used with the 2nd person pronouns (you, your, yours).
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Ex. “Do” changes to “dost”
The verb “are” changes to “art.”
Other verbs sometimes take the ending –th
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Ex. “Has” changes to “hath”
Person Case
Singular
Plural
1st
I love
we love
2nd
thou lovest
ye love
3rd
he loveth
they love
Another Complication: Inverted Syntax
Normal Syntax:
Subject Verb Object
I
ate the sandwich
Possible Variations:
• Ate the sandwich I.
• Ate I the sandwich.
• The sandwich I ate.
• The sandwich ate I.
• I the sandwich ate.
Why does Shakespeare Invert?
“Dismayed not this our captains . . . ?”
(Macbeth I.ii.37-38).
Alternative: “Did this not dismay . . .”
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Rhyme scheme
Place metrical stress where he needed it
Transitional device to bridge two sentences
Shift emphasis of the verb to the end of the
sentence (The ball John caught)
More Practice…
Original Sentence: I lost my homework.
Rewrite #1: ______ _______ _______ _______
Rewrite #2: ______ _______ _______ _______
Rewrite #3: ______ _______ _______ _______
Rewrite #4: ______ _______ _______ _______
Practicing Inversion
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Write down your own sentence
Invert your sentence in four different variations.
More Practice…
Return these sentences to standard subject–verb-object
• Not too difficult is this!
• Practice it takes
• Learning you will
Shakespearean Words
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anon—right now, OR “I come right away”……. “Anon, good
nurse! Speak!” art—are, OR skill……“Thou art dead; no physician’s
art can save you.”
dost or doth—does or do……“Dost thou know the time?”
ere—before……“We must leave ere daybreak.”
fain—gladly……“I fain would bake Mr. Love cookies if I could get an
A.”
fie—an exclamation of dismay or disgust……“You cheated? Fie upon
it!” OR “Fie! Are you mad?”
hark—listen……. “Hark to the owl,” OR “Hark! The herald angels
sing!”
hence—away…..“Get thee hence, beggar!” OR “We must hence
before the army arrives.”
hie—hurry……“Hie thee hence, or lose your life!”
hither—here…..“Come hither, young lad.”
thither—there……“Look to the east—thither doth the sun arise.”
Shakespearean Words
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hath—has……… “He hath killed many a man.” OR “He hath a horse.”
ho—hey (roughly equivalent). “Lucius, ho!” [Brutus calling his servant]
mark—pay attention to…….. “Mark my words.” marry—indeed……“He says
I should respond quickly; marry, I want to.”
pray/prithee—a polite way of asking something……“I prithee answer the
question.”
saucy—cheeky; sassy……“Hence, thou saucy boy!”
thee—you……“When will I see thee next?”
thou—you……“Thou art a villain.”
thy—your……“Thy name is more hateful than thy face.”
whence—from where…….. “Whence came that news?” OR “Return to
whence you came.”
wherefore—why……“Wherefore dost thou leave?” OR “Romeo, Romeo,
wherefore art thou Romeo?” [As in, “why can’t you be someone else, whom
my family doesn’t hate?”]
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"To thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the
night the day, thou can'st not then be false to any
man." Hamlet, Act i, Sc.3
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"To thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the
night the day, thou can'st not then be false to any
man." Hamlet, Act i, Sc.3
if you are true to yourself as sure as day will follow
night you will be true to others.
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"What is best, that best I wish in thee." Troilus & C, Act
ii, Sc.2
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"What is best, that best I wish in thee." Troilus & C, Act
ii, Sc.2
I wish the best for you
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"Safe may'st thou wander, safe return again!"
Cymbeline, Act iii, Sc.5
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"Safe may'st thou wander, safe return again!"
Cymbeline, Act iii, Sc.5
May you travel safely and return again
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"Give me thy hand, 'tis late; farewell, good night." Rom
& Jul, Act iii, Sc.3
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"Give me thy hand, 'tis late; farewell, good night." Rom
& Jul, Act iii, Sc.3
Give me your hand, it is late. Goodnight.
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"This above all: to thine own self be true." Hamlet, Act i,
Sc.3
Translating Early Modern English in Modern
English
"This above all: to thine own self be true." Hamlet, Act i,
Sc.3
Above all else, be true to yourself.

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