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

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0062  Sunday, 7 February 2010

 

[1] From:     Duncan Salkeld < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:     February 5, 2010 5:41:07 AM EST

     Subj:     RE: SHK 21.0058  Shakespeare's F Words

 

 

[2] From:     John Drakakis < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:     February 5, 2010 5:57:35 AM EST

     Subj:     RE: SHK 21.0058  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         February 5, 2010 5:41:07 AM EST

Subject: 21.0058  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0058  Shakespeare's F Words

 

>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?

 

William's exchange with Evans in MMW 4.1.45-6 alludes to the 'focative' case, with a bawdy pun on the shape of carrots. After Monsieur Le Fer has been captured, the Boy in the short quarto of Henry V (1600) asks, 'What's French for fer, ferit and fearkt'. So it seems quite plausible that ??I' fecks' may well carry similar innuendo ??-- either authorial or possibly a trace of stage improvisation.

 

Duncan Salkeld

Senior Lecturer in English

University of Chichester

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         February 5, 2010 5:57:35 AM EST

Subject: 21.0058  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0058  Shakespeare's F Words

 

I suppose it's a question of when the 'f' word in its modern guise came into common currency. In Dekker's 'The Shoemaker's Holiday' it is the word 'firk' that is much closer, and if I recall correctly Ancient Pistol uses it in 'Henry V'. It is certainly in circulation by the time of Rochester in the later 17th century, but is it there as early as Chaucer, and is there a Germanic version that may go back even further? I'd be surprised if 'fecks' (which I have heard in modern usage as an obscenity) would have been associated with the 'f'word, partly because of the context in which it appears. But then, context is everything isn't it?

 

Cheers,

John Drakakis

 

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