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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1028  Friday, 4 May 2001

[1]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 May 2001 16:23:29 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.1017 Re: Parallel Texts

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 May 2001 10:02:48 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1017 Re: Parallel Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 May 2001 16:23:29 +0100
Subject: 12.1017 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.1017 Re: Parallel Texts

Andrew Walker White wrote:

'... and the ridiculous habit of rendering "an" as "and", when it
clearly should mean "if."'

Unfortunately, it's the other way round!  It was actually "and" in an
obsolete meaning of "if".  The "Shakespearean" "an" is an invention of
modern editors.  (So in my case a personal pet peeve is "and" being
rendered as "an"!)

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 3 May 2001 10:02:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1017 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1017 Re: Parallel Texts

Andrew Walker White writes:

> [Let the brickbats fly.]

Well, no brickbats are forthcoming from this quarter.  The comments on
inadequate editions and over-simplified or misleading glossing, are
probably quite fair, although citations of the guilty editions from
which the examples are drawn would be helpful.

I do question the following:

> Elizabethan English is another
> language, from another
> time, with cultural references the impact of which
> can only be
> speculated upon.

For YEARS I have verbally chastized my undergraduate and high school
students whenever they speak of Shakespeare's language as "old
English."  The assertation that "Elizabethan" English is "another
language" seems to me related to those students' mislabelling.

No, it isn't another language.  It is, for the most part, *modern
English*.  EARLY modern English, to be sure, but recognizably the same
language which is spoken today.  The same cannot be said of actual "Old
English," or even Middle English.  Before I moved into early modern
studies and Shakespeare, most of my graduate study was in Chaucer and
other Middle English texts.  Revisiting Shakespeare after those
experiences, I clearly recall the shock of how "modern," in some places
even "contemporary," the language of the plays seemed in comparison.
Later, I attempted to share this experience with some of my students,
having them read Chaucer's middle English and then comparing it to
Shakespeare.  While the results of this experiment were admittedly
mixed, a fair number of students had a similar reaction: seeing the
modernity of Shakespeare's English.  By saying that his language is
"other" than our own, I think we place an unnecessary barrier between
contemporary readers and the performance or text.

With Andrew Walker White's conclusion to that sentence -- "with cultural
references the impact of which can only be speculated upon" -- I agree
in part.  The cultural references of Shakespeare's language are legion,
certainly.  But "can only be speculated upon" seems unduly pessimistic.
Some of the cultural references are obscure, and all the  connotations,
or "impact", of others may be beyond our ability to recover.  But there
has been a wealth of work done, especially in the past 25 years, trying
to take our understanding of the cultural context to a level BEYOND
speculation.

It is entirely possible I have misread or misunderstood Andrew Walker
White's post.  If that is so, I hope he, or someone else, will point out
my misinterpretations so that I may better understand.

Cheers,
Karen E. Peterson
University of Wales, Lampeter

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