Have You Read Shakespeare?

August 9th, 2016

William Shakespeare is considered the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.

Have You Read Shakespeare? | One Hour Translation

Widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, William Shakespeare is considered to be the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. An English poet, actor and playwright, Shakespeare is often referred to as the Bard of Avon and England’s National Poet. He was born in the United Kingdom is 1564 and died in 1616.

Shakespeare: The World’s Most Famous Playwright

It’s more than 400 years now since the death of William Shakespeare, known as one of the world’s most famous playwrights. It makes one wonder why his poems and plays are still read and enjoyed by so many people; plus of course, they’re continuously analyzed and performed by people of all ages and have become an integral part of almost every school curriculum; even though it’s been so long since they were originally published. Certainly, no one would ever accuse Shakespeare’s work of being overrated: perhaps his work has become timeless due to his unique style, but we know that his literature certainly stands out head-and-shoulders above the rest.

The Language of Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s plays are not the easiest to read, that’s true, and perhaps his work doesn’t facilitate easy reading because he used many words which have today become extinct in our everyday language. However, the rhetorical language with its elaborate metaphors never ceases to captivate and amaze readers of all ages, from all over the world. Below we’ve listed some Shakespearean terms which, if you’d never heard of or read Shakespeare before, you may not have ever heard of –

  • Art: Shakespeare used this term as a synonym of the verb to be; and not as a term referring to the human expression of creativity. Most of us have heard this term in ‘Romeo! Romeo! Where art thou Romeo?’
  • Anon: It may sound like ‘a Nun’, but the actual translation is right now or straight away – as in: ‘I come, anon’.
  • Thy: This is used as the equivalent of ‘your’; thy keeper, thy life, thy husband is thy Lord, and so on;
  • Ho: Today we use this word as an insult, but Shakespeare used it as an equivalent of ‘Hey’. ‘Ho, are you there with me?’
  • Hither: ‘Come hither young lad’ - it’s used by Shakespeare as an elegant alternative to ‘here’.
  • Thou: This is simply an old-fashioned way of saying ‘you’. It was used by Shakespeare throughout all his sonnets and plays. Because it was a term used in Old English, we also see it in ecclesiastical language, like ‘Thou shalt not kill’.  There were many different words in Old English that were used instead of the personal pronoun, like ‘Thee’ - ‘He does not care for thee’.

What Did Shakespeare Write?

Shakespeare wrote poems: he also wrote plays which included tragedies, histories, and comedies. Among the comedies he wrote are The Merry Wives of Windsor and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Two of his history plays include Richard lll and Henry V; while some of his most famous tragedies include King Lear, Othello, and Hamlet. Perhaps Shakespeare’s best-known poems are The Sonnets, which were first published in 1609.

Translating Shakespeare

Is Shakespeare still Shakespeare once it’s been translated into a foreign language? What happens to the essence of Shakespeare during translation? We know that a translator is quite capable of retaining the ideas, characters, and story of a play, but what happens to the intricate wordplay used by Shakespeare? Is it acceptable for a different perspective of Shakespeare’s work to appear during translation? Over to you, readers, for the answers to these questions.

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