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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Parallel Texts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1039  Monday, 7 May 2001

[1]     From:   Andrew W. White <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 May 2001 11:31:39 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1028 Re: Parallel Texts

[2]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 May 2001 13:42:20 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1028 Re: Parallel Texts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew W. White <
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Date:           Friday, 4 May 2001 11:31:39 -0400
Subject: 12.1028 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1028 Re: Parallel Texts

A couple comments:  I get the impression that "an" is still used in the
sense of "if" in parts of Scotland, and I know it is used that way in a
number of folk songs that, to my hearing, date from well after
Shakespeare's time.  That "and" meant "if" in Shakespeare's day proves
my point, of course -- how many teenagers are going to gather that on
first reading, or sitting in the audience?

Karen Peterson's remarks are well taken -- to clarify, when I say
"another language" I am not talking in academic/linguistic terms, I am
just dealing with a common perception, particularly among young people,
that Elizabethan English is quite different.  Shakespeare's English is
much easier to understand at some basic level than Chaucer, and that's
demonstrably true.  But I have often tripped up, as an actor, over
phrases where the English seems perfectly clear, taken word for word,
but taken as a whole makes no sense in a modern context because the
meanings of certain words have changed so drastically.

When Hamlet says "Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely",
the word "merely" should give us pause.  We now take it, commonly, to
mean "only" in the sense of "in a small way" where in Shakespeare's
sense of the word, which we can maybe render as "precisely", Hamlet
means that Claudius & Co. have taken over _everything_.  How we can hear
that speech and get the original word's meaning without going through
some mental gymnastics -- an exercise Elizabethans did not have to go
through?  Moreover, 'tis' sounds artificial, as do "thee" and "thou" --
we commoners hear poetry and artifice, where the Elizabethan commoner
would have heard nothing remarkable at all, just regular usage.  If we
can't distinguish between what is art and what is not, how well do we
understand this stuff?

My more basic point is, we don't problematize the process of gathering
information through Shakespeare's language; we're so used to sitting
down with annotated editions, time after time, we forget that a live
audience's first encounter with the plays, let alone a young student's
first encounter with a text , is far more complicated than we give
credit.  And to paper over the natural difficulties audiences and young
readers face, well, that courts disaster, and reinforces the perception
of Shakespeare as dated or, as another thread has put it, "boring".

Cheers,
Andy White

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Friday, 4 May 2001 13:42:20 EDT
Subject: 12.1028 Re: Parallel Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1028 Re: Parallel Texts

 Karen Peterson-Kranz writes:

>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.

Here's the citation. I had already looked it up for another list member
who contacted me privately.

Billy Houck

The Shakespeare Parallel Text Series
ROMEO AND JULIET
edited by Janie B. Yates-Glandorf, Ph.D.
Cover Illustration by Heather Cooper

Copyright 1985 by
The Perfection Form Company
1000 North Second Avenue
Logan, Iowa 51546

ISBN 0-8124-0953-1

Page 71
Act II, Scene ii
line 35:
JULIET
Romeo! Romeo! Where are you, Romeo?
Reject your father and refuse his name.
Or if you will not, just swear to be my love, and I
will no longer be a Capulet.

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