The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1722  Tuesday, 12 September 2000.

From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Sep 2000 01:07:43 -0700
Subject: 11.1712 Re: Authentic Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1712 Re: Authentic Performance

Since I far from being a linguist, I hesitated to mention Hebrew
relevance Here  although I am convinced that it pertains to a valuable
source for textual researches. (It is also a path for determining
Shakespeare's involvement in the KJ bible and  proof that he wrote the
Funeral Elegy.)

Many critics cite Shylock's name as an example of how Shakespeare wanted
people to feel about the character. They say that the 'lock' in the name
was on account of Shylock's 'miserliness'.  Never mind the explanation
(which I think is spurious ) although interpretations surely must be
taken into account - but in regard to 'lock': is it indeed with a strong
final K?  Considering normative Hebrew I believe that it should be
pronounced rather as in the Scotch loch. However you may regard the
character, it is fair to suppose that Shylock's mother did not think in
the same way and that she chose a name for her baby from normal sounding
Hebrew nomenclature. A good Hebrew name for Shylock might be the name
for messenger. Shaliach.  The final letter is a chet and it sounds
similar to the Scotch ch. Other interpretations strengthen the

One immediately hears the Hebrew 'shai' which is a gift. The next
syllable, LaCh means to you (fem.).( It is a chuf ending which in sound
is like the Scotch ch) Shylock makes many contributions but the one he
is keen on delivering is to Jessica. Another way of reading, I concur,
is to combine Hebrew with English, making a present  which is locked, or
undisclosed. It is an undisclosed gift of interpretation to the
audience. There is also 'sh-li'. my own, that is locked, Shylock's
assets are locked before the court unlocks them. But to finish off the
word with a hard K after syllablizing sh'l plus vowel is unpleasant.
Much sweeter is a deep, soft ch.  S. J.  Shoenfeld  mentions the
Biblical David's adversary in life, mad King Saul, in Hebrew 'Shaul'.
However the word for borrower 'Sho'el' is written like Shaul, both
containing the consonant stem for Shylock. The ending then becoming a
grammatical suffix (which I have already described for the feminine. In
the masculine there is an added pen ultimate sound,  but not the final
Scotch ch.) This meaning is united specifically by the Duke's judgment,
to another connotation that can be found in books on Hebrew law.  The
'Shalish', again with the same consonants, literally the third party, is
he that holds a bond in a litigation between a creditor and a debtor.
Here the letter shin with its sh sound is even softer.  Sir Israel
Gollancz points out that Shylock comes from the Hebrew word 'shallach'
meaning 'cormorant' which according to the Elizabethans meant usurer,
"in the same way that we use the term vampire." Again it would be a
Scotch ch.

However there are hard final K's in Hebrew and in English  We see it in
the name of Yorick -  not an English sounding name. In Hebrew ( with a
kof)  it can mean more than one thing depending upon how one chooses to
pronounce the vowels (since they are not written). Yet all these
variations suit the nature of  the king's jester. 1. Yarak, 'spat out'
or 'thrown out':  Yorick is thrown out of his grave and his nature
during his lifetime was to blurt out harsh words. 2. Yareek, 'to be made
empty': By his removal, the grave is made empty as well as the enclosure
of his skull. "That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once." 3.
Yarok, 'green': The worldly remains of Yorick is moldy. His nature was
jealous, for he is carefully depicted to have Robert GREENE's fiery
nature, the king's own jester indeed, who had  contended with the
burgeoning play write, William Shakespeare: "he has borne me on his back
a thousand times".

Not to make this too long, I speculate that English final ks could have
been usually  pronounced by Shakespeare in the Scottish manner, and that
perhaps only for special, foreign names or in sarcasm would a hard k be

Florence Amit

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