Video:How to Translate Shakespeare's Top Words and Phraseswith Milo De Prieto
Shakespearean English looks much different than how we speak today, which can make reading his work difficult. Learn some steps to understanding Shakespeare's English in this how-to video from About.com.See Transcript
Transcript:How to Translate Shakespeare's Top Words and Phrases
Hello, I'm Milo for About.com, and today we are talking about how to translate Shakespeare's most famous words and phrases.
Shakespeare is credited with adding thousands of words to the English language, many times by combining others playfully. Many of these words are still in use today. Still there are many that are difficult to understand. One quick and easy way to have access to translations and explanations of Shakespeare's texts is to look on the Internet for online glossaries. But, in general, the more you read Shakespeare's work the more you will become familiar with his use of language, it can be very contextual.
How to Understand Shakespeare's Words and Phrases
To make understanding Shakespeare easier to read, familiarize yourself with Elizabethan language, slang, and culture. With this background knowledge, the text comes alive. If you are trying to decipher a word, analyze the sentence or phrase as a whole, many times you will be able to figure it out by doing just that.
Also understanding the personality traits of the characters will help you decipher the words used to talk about them.
Popular Shakespearean Words Translated
To help you get started we want to share with you some words used by Shakespeare in his work and explain what they mean. Here are a few basic ones to help you on your way:
“Thee” and “thou” means “you” while “thy” and “thine” mean “yours.” The word "you" was used by Shakespeare but it was formal. It may have been used when a peasant addressed a king but never between two people that were equals.
The word "art" used as a verb means "are."
The word "ay" means yes or an exclamation of distress.
The word "would" means "wish."
The word "alas" means "unfortunately."
The word "adieu" means "good bye." You may see some other smatterings of French as well.
The word "sirrah" means "sir" or "mister."
Many times we'll find words ending with -ETH, in these instances look at the root of the word. For example “sayeth” means “say.”
The auxiliary verb "did" was not around, so you will not see it in Shakespeare's work. Instead phrases such as, "Be not afeared," means, "Don't be afraid." You'll also find, "What looked he like?," meaning, "What did he look like?"
Before looking words up, knowing a few basic patterns and words like these and taking a moment to investigate context will speed you on your way.
For more excellent and helpful information on Shakespeare's work, world, and influence check us out at About dot com.