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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1017  Thursday, 3 May 2001

From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 May 2001 12:28:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 12.1006 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1006 Re: Parallel Texts

Although the quality of some 'translations' is truly appalling, let's
not break our arms patting ourselves on the back for sticking to the
original text.  Elizabethan English is another language, from another
time, with cultural references the impact of which can only be
speculated upon.  Let's not mistake a refusal to contextualize
Shakespeare to the best of our ability, with pedagogy.  It's laziness;
and unless we are willing to take the time to define and contextualize
the language -- and yes, that takes time and great effort -- we are
actually better off with a half-cocked modern rendering.

If I had money for every time an _edited_ text, not a translated one,
took serious liberties with the language, I could retire.  Personal pet
peeves include simplistic definitions of "nunnery" ("convent," when both
"convent" and "brothel" are applicable, and used in the same scene), and
the ridiculous habit of rendering "an" as "and", when it clearly should
mean "if."

When even editors can't bring themselves to give Shakespeare to us
straight, who are we to trash those who try to make Shakespeare more
accessible by means of modern English?

[Let the brickbats fly.]

Andrew White
University of Maryland, College Park

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