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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.Read more
- Explains clearly the terms required to understand Shakespeare's language, assuming no prior specialist knowledge
- Includes many examples from Shakespeare's plays and poems, providing essential context for the reader
- Contains a lively and original A-Z Appendix of Shakespeare's 'false friends' - words which seem familiar to us today, but in fact have a completely different meaning
Reviews & endorsements
'In this authoritative and attractively written book David Crystal asks all the right questions about the language that Shakespeare used and the ways in which he used it. Here is a linguist who knows not only how words work but how they work in the theatre. Anyone who cares for Shakespeare will be informed and entertained by this intriguing and wide-ranging study.' Stanley WellsSee more reviews
'… a fascinating and very readable book … one that could be recommended to the Shakespeare novice.' Stratford-upon-Avon Observer
'… he explores Shakespeare's linguistic art his grammar, his poetic brain and the ways in which he manipulated ordinary words, his building blocks, into the breathtaking poetry we have today.' Stratford-upon-Avon Herald
'An accessible book examining the 'nuts and bolts' of Shakespeare's language thus seems timely, and David Crystal … is just the man to write it.' The Times Higher Education Supplement
'Crystal's new book is a summation of his work on Shakespeare over many years, essentially a user-friendly book about language. An invaluable resource particularly for work in both language and literature at A Level.' Keith Davidson, Committee for Language in Education
'David Crystal once again offers an incredibly learned overview of linguistic issues in an accessible, engaging, and thought-provoking book on Shakespeare … The book is invaluable, in that it is accessible, highly enjoyable both to the specialized reader and the broader audience; and in that it argues persuasively that it is impossible to get very far in appreciating Shakespeare if his language is not looked at within the context of early modern linguistic practices.' Iolanda Plescia, Memori Di Shakespeare
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- Date Published: February 2008
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521876940
- length: 268 pages
- dimensions: 224 x 144 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.46kg
- contains: 4 b/w illus. 2 tables
- availability: Available
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.
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