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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Re: your philosophy
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1195.  Monday, 24 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Nov 1997 10:05:36 CST6CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1189  Re: Assorted Responses to Ham.

[2]     From:   Scott Shepherd <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Nov 1997 15:39:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1189  Re: your philosophy

[3]     From:   Jonathan Hope <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Nov 1997 09:35:50 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1189  Re: your philosophy


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Nov 1997 10:05:36 CST6CDT
Subject: 8.1189  Re: Assorted Responses to Ham.
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1189  Re: Assorted Responses to Ham.

I'd like to support Bill Godshalk's reading of the "your philosopy" as
non-generic; the your/our options provided by the quarto and folio
provide an interesting opportunity for directors and actors. Because of
my own reading (and once, long ago, playing) of Horatio, I've always
argued on behalf of "our" philosophy, because it makes the bond between
Hamlet and Horatio stronger, even at a moment of extreme stress. "Your"
philosophy, depending on how the actor playing Hamlet speaks the line,
could be generic or could be an attempt to alienate _even_ Horatio from
the events in progess. I almost cheered aloud on my first viewing of
Branagh's _Hamlet_, when the choice was "our."

In good fellowship,
Chris Gordon

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Shepherd <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Nov 1997 15:39:45 -0500
Subject: 8.1189  Re: your philosophy
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1189  Re: your philosophy

Well, now, Bill, "This is your argument, isn't it, Jonathan?" is an
insidious example.  It's definitely a non-generic you, but not because
of the name.  "This is your argument, isn't it?" isn't generic either.

For generic you in close proximity to direct address, compare

        Sir, your pennyworth is good, an your goose be fat.  [LLL 3.1]

        Painting, sir, I have heard say, is a mystery; and
        your whores, sir, being members of my occupation,
        using painting, do prove my occupation a mystery.  [MM 4.2]

        Tilly-fally, Sir John, ne'er tell me: your ancient
        swaggerer comes not in my doors.  [2H4 2.4]

It should also be noted that Hamlet can hardly speak to Horatio without
addressing him by name.

Or with epithets like "my self" and "fellow-student," which suggest a
shared philosophy.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Nov 1997 09:35:50 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 8.1189  Re: your philosophy
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1189  Re: your philosophy

Bill Godshalk writes:

>when you (generic you) use "your philosophy" followed by a
>name (in this case, Horatio), doesn't the listener feel (as I do) that
>"your" refers to the person named. For example, "This is your argument,
>isn't it, Jonathan?" I interpret the "your" as a definite reference to
>Jonathan, not as a generic usage.
>
>Is this a general feeling of English users?  Or do I stand alone?

I take Bill's point, but I think it can be either - in some contexts,
the 'your', even if followed by a proper name, can still be generic.
The usage in Hamlet seems to me to be ambiguous - is Hamlet implying
that he has access to a level of philosophical thought that would
include what Horatio's doesn't, or that the philosophy they both share
can't deal with the supernatural?  Pronouns are 'shifters' - that is,
their reference can shift quite startlingly with time and or context -
one of the things that makes them so much fun.

By the way, fans of generic 'your' should check out the Burt Reynolds
character in 'Boogie Nights'.

Best
Jonathan Hope
Middlesex University
 

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