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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Henry V Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0328  Thursday, 5 February 2004

[1]     From:   Joseph Sullivan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Feb 2004 09:19:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0310 Henry V Question

[2]     From:   James Doyle <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 19:10:57 -0000
        Subj:   Henry V Question

[3]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 15:12:39 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0310 Henry V Question

[4]     From:   Ruth Ross <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 16:55:33 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0310 Henry V Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Sullivan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 04 Feb 2004 09:19:16 -0500
Subject: 15.0310 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0310 Henry V Question

Sean Lawrence rightly points out what was a self-indulgent overstatement
in my argument when I blurted out that Henry "never once" shows interest
in French.  A few members of the list called me on the error in private
emails as well.  My sloppiness needlessly distracted attention from the
central claim, namely, that Henry is represented on-stage as an
Anglo-Saxon homegrown king rather than a continental multilingual
monarch and that his dogged nationalism is somehow signified through his
choice of language.   As Sean points out, Henry self-identifies as
Welsh.  Henry does woo Katherine by throwing out a line or two in
French.  As he does so, he professes that it is a labor for him.  He
laments that his French will "hang upon my tongue like a new-married
wife about her husband's neck, hardly to be shook off."  As has been
established, the historical Henry spoke French well.  He probably dined
with the French nobility he had imprisoned at Agincourt rather than his
own happy few.  But that is not the Henry we see on the planks.  That
figure claims to be tongue-tied as he recites a couple simple lines in
French.  Moreover, my specific claim was that he had no interest in
French.  I would maintain that he speaks French to win Katherine, not
out of any personal need to express himself in French.  When I was in
college, I asked an MBA student that I had a crush on what I had to do
to get a date with her.  She made me read a book by Adam Smith.  I did.
  I won my date.  But I still cannot claim any particular interest in
Adam Smith.  Gratitude, certainly.  Interest, not so much.  Still, I do
confess my error from my original message.

Joe Sullivan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Doyle <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 19:10:57 -0000
Subject:        Henry V Question

Pace Peter Bridgman, Shakespeare wouldn't have been likely to hear a
Yiddish accent from a Venetian Sephardic Jew, nor would it have been
appropriate for Shylock to use it.  Yiddish came into being in Germanic
areas, among Ashkenazic Jews.  It's a language of Northern and Eastern
Europe, not southern.

James Doyle

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 15:12:39 -0500
Subject: 15.0310 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0310 Henry V Question

 >>But where would WS have heard a Yiddish accent?
 >
 >In bed probably!
 >
 >That is if the Dark Lady was Emilia Lanier, nee Bassano, as many
 >biographies suggest.  The Bassanos were Venetian Sephardic Jews.
 >
 >Peter Bridgman

A Venetian Jew seems to me to have been much more likely to speak
Ladino, the traditional tongue of the Sephardi (based on Spanish and
Hebrew as Yiddish was based on German and Hebrew), Italian, or the
demotic Greek that seems to have been the lingua franca of the eastern
Mediterranean in medieval times.

David Evett

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ruth Ross <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 16:55:33 -0500
Subject: 15.0310 Henry V Question
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0310 Henry V Question

But Sephardic Jews didn't speak Yiddish, a dialect of German with a
little medieval French thrown in for seasoning. Sephardic Jews would
have spoken Ladino, which is derived from Spanish and, perhaps, Portuguese.

Ruth Ross

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