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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: August ::
Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0424  Monday, 3 August 2009

[1] From:   Alex Went <
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     Date:   Sunday, 02 Aug 2009 21:05:15 +0200
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare

[2] From:   Jack Heller <
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     Date:   Sunday, 2 Aug 2009 15:40:27 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare

[3] From:   Cheryl Newton <
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     Date:   Sunday, 02 Aug 2009 16:47:19 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare

[4] From:   Annie Martirosyan <
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     Date:   Monday, 3 Aug 2009 12:23:36 +0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Alex Went <
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Date:       Sunday, 02 Aug 2009 21:05:15 +0200
Subject: 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare

Interesting. Shakespeare has a good deal to say about mothers, often in 
association with brain function e.g. 'pia mater' (Twelfth Night) and 
'hysterica passio' -- the 'mother' of Lear's invention. Certainly, later 
medical references in the closet scene would suggest that matter here 
could equal 'passion', 'hysteria', or even 'discharge' or 'cess'. Even 
if Shakespeare isn't punning, Hamlet would probably want to: an 
alliterative pun in particular prepares us, tonally, for the probing 
nastiness of the interrogation to come. The only question that remains 
is why he does not say of Claudius's praying "Now, 'father', what's the 
patter?"

Alex Went

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jack Heller <
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Date:       Sunday, 2 Aug 2009 15:40:27 -0400
Subject: 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare

I don't know how many multilingual puns there are in Shakespeare, but 
some do appear in the works of his contemporaries, including one on 
pax/pox in _A Trick to Catch the Old One_.

No doubt, I won't be the only respondent who mentions "foot" in _Henry 
V_. A useful pun to know. As a former resident of Louisiana, I've heard 
"foot" used by people of Cajun heritage for another familiar f word, the 
one indicated in Shakespeare's pun.

Jack Heller

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Cheryl Newton <
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Date:       Sunday, 02 Aug 2009 16:47:19 -0400
Subject: 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare

Aron,

My lonely opinion of a pun is Hamlet's "melt, thaw, and resolve itself 
into a dew," being read, with reference to his self-destructive 
feelings, as "melt, thaw, and resolve itself into adieu." (that is, 
farewell.)

Cheryl

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Annie Martirosyan <
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Date:       Monday, 3 Aug 2009 12:23:36 +0500
Subject: 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0420 Multilingual Puns in Shakespeare

On Shakespeare's Latin play read Professor David Crystal's article 
"Playing with Latin", which is an analysis of the scene in _The Merry 
Wives in Windsor_, as Evans teaches William Latin. Here is the link 
http://www.davidcrystal.com/DC_articles/Shakespeare49.pdf.

Shakespeare's plays are indeed full of language play, last term I 
supervised a third-year student's course paper on wordplays in _The 
Merry Wives of Windsor_, where save Latin play, one can encounter a wide 
range of language play as to a character's social-class belonging. Also, 
there are instances of irregular speech of non-native speakers which can 
perfectly fit into the scope of Ludic Linguistics: for instance, the 
wrong English of Doctor Caius is visualized via spelling -- dat for 
that, etc; Evans, the Welsh parson,  uses functional shifts -- you are a 
very simplicity woman.

Hamlet's line you excerpt as a potential pun is irrelevant here, I 
think. I would not treat it as a pun on Latin "mater" and English 
"matter". There is phonological ludicity in the speech (as Hamlet's 
other speeches), of course, but that is not a pun, really, why should 
Hamlet opt for Latin pronunciation of mother here?

The passage, though, I remember citing as evidence of thou/you 
distinction (including Gertrude's response).

For illumination on words of other languages used in Shakespeare's 
works, like Welsh, French (Henry V's wooing of Katherine of France just 
comes to my mind) etc., go to Professor David Crystal's website of 
Shakespeare's Words http://www.shakespeareswords.com/Topics-List.aspx.

Kind wishes,
Annie

[Editor's Note: For anyone not familiar with it, David and Ben Crystal's 
Shakespeare's Words site is one of the most interesting and most useful 
places I know on the Internet to explore Shakespeare's language. The 
Shakespeare's Words site "integrates the full text of the

plays <http://www.shakespeareswords.com/PlayList.aspx> and

poems <http://www.shakespeareswords.com/PoemList.aspx> with the entire

Glossary database <http://www.shakespeareswords.com/Glossary.aspx>, 
allowing you to

search <http://www.shakespeareswords.com/Search.aspx>

for any word or phrase in Shakespeare's works, and in particular to find 
all instances of all words that can pose a difficulty to the modern 
reader." It is easy to get lost in this site for a couple of hours at a 
time. Enjoy. And thanks to the Crystals for making these tools available 
for free, originally the site was by subscription only. -Hardy]


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