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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: February ::
Shakespeare's F Words

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0058  Thursday, 4 February 2010

 

From:         Jack Heller < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 3, 2010 2:47:32 PM EST

Subject:      Shakespeare's F Words

 

Colleagues:

 

I have been pondering "I' fecks" in _The Winter's Tale_, 1.2.120, when Leontes is mocking his own son's childishness in identifying him as a bastard. Given the sexual language in the context and given the rarity of the word "fecks," (usually annotated as 'in faith'), it seems to me that "fecks" may be a pun for both "faith" and another familiar word with the letters f, c, and k. (I am not trying to be entirely coy here, but I recognize that the word in question will alert many spam filters.)

 

I recognize that I am speculating a bit, but Shakespeare has used similar punning before, such as the foot/foutre pun in _Henry V_. (In fact, I've heard "foot" used in Louisiana by those too reticent to use the common English word.) Iago's use of "fig" seems related, as does "fug," though I can't find what play I've seen that in. These words seem also similar to the use of "freakin'" and "friggin'" in movies that are edited for television. So, the question: Is it reasonable to read "I' fecks" as I am suggesting?

 

Jack Heller

 

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