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Think On My Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language (2008)

af David Crystal

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1213230,438 (3.86)10
'You speak a language that I understand not.' Hermione's words to Leontes in The Winter's Tale are likely to ring true with many people reading or watching Shakespeare's plays today. For decades, people have been studying Shakespeare's life and times, and in recent years there has been a renewed surge of interest into aspects of his language. So how can we better understand Shakespeare? How did he manipulate language to produce such an unrivalled body of work, which has enthralled generations both as theatre and as literature? David Crystal addresses these and many other questions in this lively and original introduction to Shakespeare's language. Covering in turn the five main dimensions of language structure - writing system, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and conversational style - the book shows how examining these linguistic 'nuts and bolts' can help us achieve a greater appreciation of Shakespeare's linguistic creativity.… (mere)
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A lively introduction to Shakespeare's language, creating a greater appreciation of his linguistic creativity.
  Roger_Scoppie | Apr 3, 2013 |
The basic premise is that Shakespeare's plays do not need to be dumbed down or "translated" into modern English to make them accessible to students, because the language of Shakespeare is not that different from modern English - not enough different to really cause a problem. Crystal then does a detailed analysis of the points of difference between the English of Shakespeare's time and modern English, with some very interesting statistics, thanks to modern computer analysis of the plays.

I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in the subject. It was very readable, and I found it quite fascinating. As an added bonus, it has a list at the back of "false friends" - words whose meaning has changed radically since the 16th century. ( )
  staffordcastle | Apr 30, 2009 |
This book is described as a book that can help us understand Shakespeare's writing and language. The first few chapters were fairly interesting. The first looks at some of the myths and realities, breaking down ideas such as Shakespeare being an inventor of words, and having one of the largest vocabularies. It then goes on to explain the printing process that was around at the time, and explains how there are actually various version's of Shakespeare's texts.

After that, however, it goes into far too much detail, and I'm afraid it completely lost me! There are chapters dedicated to spelling and punctuation, and for the casual Shakespeare reader, it's just too much depth.. it loses the interesting points, and reads more like a text book.

For anyone actually studying Shakespeare, or someone with an indepth knowledge, this may make a interesting collection to their texts. For the casual reader, however, it hits the wrong note.
  michelle_bcf | Sep 8, 2008 |
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(Preface) The title of this book means what it says: it is an exploration of Shakespeare's language, not a comprehensive survey.
(Chapter 1) There is a story that, if you travel into the most isolated valleys of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern USA, you will find people who still speak the language of Shakespeare.
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'You speak a language that I understand not.' Hermione's words to Leontes in The Winter's Tale are likely to ring true with many people reading or watching Shakespeare's plays today. For decades, people have been studying Shakespeare's life and times, and in recent years there has been a renewed surge of interest into aspects of his language. So how can we better understand Shakespeare? How did he manipulate language to produce such an unrivalled body of work, which has enthralled generations both as theatre and as literature? David Crystal addresses these and many other questions in this lively and original introduction to Shakespeare's language. Covering in turn the five main dimensions of language structure - writing system, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and conversational style - the book shows how examining these linguistic 'nuts and bolts' can help us achieve a greater appreciation of Shakespeare's linguistic creativity.

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