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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Qs: French Texts; Shakespeare's Neologism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1164.  Monday, 17 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Roger Batt <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Nov 1997 09:36:13 +0100
        Subj:   Help French Texts

[2]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Nov 1997 10:55:32 -0000
        Subj:   Shakespeare's Neologism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Batt <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 17 Nov 1997 09:36:13 +0100
Subject:        Help French Texts

[Editor's Note: Because Roger Batt currently a member of SHAKSPER,
please send any replies directly to him at <
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 >.
Thanks, HMC]

Dear Hardy,

Some time ago (Feb 97) I expressed an interest in joining the SHAKSPER
Global Electronic Conference; I sent off a biographical note but didn't
hear any more. As it happens I have been very busy and would not have
had time to participate, but I would like a bit of help from you if
possible.

I am going to be directing a performance of Henry V for the Drama Group
of Monaco in the summer in the open air at Roqubrune Castle on the Cote
d'Azur. We are always short of English speaking actors (and I need a lot
of course for a history play), so I have had the idea of performing all
the sections at the French court in French - this means that I can use
some French actors for the French court.

What I am looking for is a translation of Henry V in French on the
internet so I can download it and then "cut and paste" it into the
English script to make a performing edition. Can you ask your
contributors if any of them know of such a translation available?

 Any other thoughts or help that anyone could give me would be
gratefully  accepted.

 Thanking you,
 Roger Batt

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Date:           Monday, 17 Nov 1997 10:55:32 -0000
Subject:        Shakespeare's Neologism

Last week John Velz wrote:

Joseph Crosby suggested that the "rooky wood" in *Macbeth* should be the
*roaky wood*.  Roke or roak is smoke in northern dialect; the allusion
would be to the swirling fog (cf "fog and filthy air" at beginning of
the play) in a thicket of trees at sunset.

I'd always believed that 'rooky wood' meant 'a wood frequented by rooks'
and that is how Riverside glosses the word. Crosby's alternative seems
very attractive. It would be typical of Shakespeare to use roaky to mean
'smoky' while also suggesting the word 'rook' to go with the crow
mentioned on the previous line. Compare Falstaff's:

Give you a reason on compulsion! If reasons were as plentiful as
blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I. (1H4,
2.4)

where 'reasons' probably puns on 'raisins', to go with the blackberries.

OED gives both the above meanings for 'rooky'. For the 'smoky' meaning
the earliest use it cites is from 1691 and appears to regard it as an
alternative spelling of roaky. But for the 'frequented by rooks' meaning
it gives this very passage in Macbeth as the earliest use! My suspicion
is that the word 'rooky' never did mean 'frequented by rooks' and
Shakespeare never intended to create a word with that meaning; he was
just punning as usual. The word was misinterpreted as meaning
'frequented by rooks' by people who did not know 'roaky'. The authority
of a supposed use by Shakespeare was then enough for the word to acquire
that meaning.

This may sound fanciful but I believe things like this have happened. M.
R. Ridley in his brilliant Arden edition of Othello pointed out that the
word 'beetles' as in Horatio's

    ...........the dreadful summit of the cliff
    That beetles o'er his base into the sea,

is unique to the Folio, the other two texts having 'bettles' and
'beckles' (if my memory serves). Ridley points out that OED cites this
very passage for the earliest use and so this could be another example
of the following sequence: (a) early text misprints something so as to
create a new word, (ii) by looking at the context, readers create a
meaning for the new word, (iii) with an authority no less than
Shakespeare behind it, the new word/meaning enters the language, (iv)
result: we get a new word/meaning which Shakespeare never intended.

I'm thinking of starting a collection of words Shakespeare is supposed
to have invented but which were just misprints. Top of the list would of
course be 'Imogen'. I wonder how many women named Imogen over the years
have realised that they were named after a typo!
 

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