While browsing the net, I came across a post on the Shakespeare Blog that had a piece that related to my recent post about translated Shakespeare editions.
The author, a teacher, mentions that she doesn’t use translations at all. That giving one to them is telling students that
…they cannot possibly understand Shakespeare without having it “translated” for them. [. . .] Second, you’re confirming in their minds that Shakespeare really didn’t write in English…
Some say they don’t know how to read old English. I’m sure they mean “English that is old.” Looking to linguistics and a history of our language, Old English was way before Shakespeare. Middle English was also before Shakespeare. During the Elizabethan era the people wrote and spoke Early Modern English. The language has continued to evolve, but is not so different from Shakespeare’s day to today as it was to Old English – which is almost completely unrecognizable as English.
Shakespeare’s language is a puzzle. A scavenger hunt. The fun is in solving it! When I work on a piece of Shakespeare on of my favorite parts is the text analysis and making sense of it. Looking up the words, making sense of the text, researching the history, mythology, characters, looking at the First Folio for the original punctuation and other clues on how to speak the text… and more. It’s fun! It is really like putting a literary puzzle together and that’s just the first step in creating a performance.
Try putting together the puzzle sometime. I have a feeling that you will enjoy yourself. And if you end up doing this work for a performance the experience will be much more fulfilling because of all the work you did. You’re audience will understand and appreciate you much more too!