Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Appreciating Shakespeare's Language

When Shakespeare wrote his sonnets and plays, the language he used was popular and would have been easily recognized by seventeenth century audiences. However, in the twenty-first century, we have a more difficult time comprehending the words Shakespeare used. What we must remember is that Shakespeare’s words can be easily “translated” into modern English, and once we become familiar with these words, it becomes easier to read and understand the language, and then we are able to appreciate the story Shakespeare is trying to tell.

Below is a list of common words found in Shakespeare’s works, along with a modern “translation” of the word or phrase.

1.    mark: pay attention to                            2.    attend: listen to
3.    nay: no                                                   4.    withal: with
5.    discourses: speaks                                 6.    an: if
7.    will: desire                                             8.    thither: there
9.    anon: at once                                         10. thy: your
11. thou art: you are                                     12. woo: to court a woman/man
13. soft: hush                                                14. methinks: I think
15. dispatch: to send away or to kill
16. nought: nothing                                      17. marry: of course; indeed
18. good-den or do-den: Good Evening
19. hap: lucky                                               20. maid: an unmarried young girl
21. humor: mood or moisture                       22. wot: know
23. stay!: wait!                                              24. hie: go
25. tidings: news 26. pray: beg                     27. decree: order
28. resolve: plan                                           29. foe: enemy
30. coz: cousin                                             31. hither: here
32. plague: curse                                          33. adieu: goodbye
34. woe: grief                                               35. heavy: sad
36. counsel: advice                                    37. thee: you
38. sirrah: fellow                                       39. would: wish
40. doth: does


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