Think On My Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language / Edition 1

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Overview

'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 unrivaled body of work, which has enthralled generations both as theater 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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 Wells

"Crystal is perhaps the world's foremost scholar of the English language — and he is certainly the most enjoyable, learned and prolific author writing about the language today...Throughout [this book] Crystal's characteristic conversational tone helps make lucid the sometimes murky waters of linguistic analysis...Essential."
-D.A. Henningfeld, Choice

Library Journal

Here, Crystal (Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language) explains the nature of language and poetic effect in Shakespeare's work, giving a brief and clear description of English prosody and commenting on old (through the 1100s), middle (through the 1400s), early modern (1500-1750), and modern English. Crystal examines the differences between Shakespeare's plays written before and after 1600 to track the playwright's art and development. (He mostly uses the first folio of 1623 but also makes comparisons to the quarto texts.) He explains the nature and use of iambic pentameter and how it works in Shakespeare's plays; gives a good overview of Elizabethan printing practices; brilliantly describes Shakespeare's grammar, spelling, punctuation, pronunciation, and vocabulary; and insightfully shows how the elements of syntax, morphology, and accents combine to form Shakespeare's discourse. The appendix list of "false friends," words that are spelled the same but have different meaning in early modern and modern English, is especially illuminating. A fine introduction to Shakespearean studies; essential for literature collections.
—Gene Shaw

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521700351
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 266
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

David Crystal is a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster. He is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor.

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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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