King Lear's English

Discussion in 'All Other Discussions' started by Rippon, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    I reread Shakespeare's King Lear a while back. I had taken some notes regarding the usage of English. It written and performed in 1606. So, it was near the time of the KJV translation. But I note more differences than similarities with the Anglican Version.

    Of course it uses words such as didst, hath, thy, thou and art. But it also uses a number of contractions that can be easily read by folks in this modern age.

    She'll, We'll, They'll, I'll

    There's, How's, That's, What's, He's, Let's,Who's

    I'd

    Some sample sentences follow.

    I'll do't before I speak.

    Who's there?

    What's that?

    How's that?

    But she knows what she does.

    Smell him that's stinking.

    It's crackt.

    Stand you neat slave!

    He's coming.

    This play is not written in lofty language. There are parts that are hard to understand though. I'll relay them at a later time.
     
  2. Johnv

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    King Lear and the KJV were not written in the same variant of English. King Lear was written in a form called "Early Modern English". It's the form of English used from roughly 1570 to 1650. The KJV uses a mix of Early Modern English and Middle English.
     
  3. Alcott

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    Shakespeare used many 'contractions' that we seldom write today, though some people may pronounce in such a way... "ta'en" [taken], "a'" [as in God a' [have] mercy]" Some of this is from his native 'West Country' dialect.
     
  4. Johnv

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    Good point. Shakespeare uses several contractions that are no longer a part of the English language:

    ope (open)
    gi' (give)
    a' (he)
    i' (in)

    Some others, such as e'er (ever), oft (often) and e'en (even) are used less and less over time, and are likely to be consiered archaisms within the next 100 or so years.
     
  5. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    There is one area in Northern England that still uses "thee's and thou's" and other archaic English forms. East London is famous for word contractions on a daily basis. We drop our h's, so we talk about t' 'ouse for the house, or goin' 'ome.

    Want to talk about reading books with odd language try reading General James Longstreet's From Manassas to Appomattox.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     

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