'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.
Table of Contents
1. 'You speak a language that I understand not': myths and realities; 2. 'Now, sir, what is your text?': knowing the sources; 3. 'In print I found it': Shakespeare graphology; 4. 'Know my stops': Shakespearean punctuation; 5. 'Speak the speech': Shakespearean phonology; 6. 'Trippingly upon the tongue': Shakespearean pronunciation; 7. 'Think on my words': Shakespearean vocabulary; 8. 'Talk of a noun and a verb': Shakespearean grammar; 9. 'Hear sweet discourse': Shakespearean conversation; Epilogue: 'Your daring tongue': Shakespearean creativity; Appendix: an A-to-Z of Shakespeare's false friends.
David Crystal is a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster. He is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor.