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Shakespearian Grammar
Shakespeare’s writing can be
difficult to read and understand
because of
-archaic words and verbs
-allusions we are unfamiliar with
-unusual sentence structure/word
Archaic words and verbs tenses
• Using thou, thee, and thine
-Means you, ye, and yours
Look at the archaic words handout
Present and past tense verbs
To be
-thou art
-thou wert
To have
-thou hast
-thou hadst
To do
-thou dost
-thou didst
• To allow
– Thou may’st
***notice the endings
-est and ‘st
Sentence Structure and Word
• Current word order often follows the pattern
Dogs do smell fear.
• Shakespearian word order can be any order.
Fear dost dogs smell.
Smell fear dost dogs.
Dogs dost smell fear.
Translating Shakespeare
• Read from punctuation piece to
punctuation so you can translate
manageable parts
• Look at the context of the sentence
Complete the Translating Shakespeare
• Humorous use of a word that suggests 2 or more
meanings sometimes used to create deliberate
confusion or for rhetorical effect
• Usually used as a homonym (when 2 words sound the
same but are spelled differently like soul and sole)
if a word has more than one meaning like grave (serious
or a burial place)
• Walter Redfern (in Puns, Blackwell, London, 1984)
succinctly said:
"To pun is to treat homonyms as synonyms."
Sum Puns
• I wondered why the baseball was getting
bigger. Then it hit me.
• There was a sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center that said 'Keep off the Grass'.
• He drove his expensive car into a tree and
found out how the Mercedes bends.
See Handout on PUNS
Shakespeare Puns
Romeo and Juliet (Act I scene IV)
Mercutio: “Nay, gentle Romeo, we must
have you dance.”
Romeo: “Not I, believe me. You have
dancing shoes
With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.”
Context: Romeo is reluctant to attend a
party because he is suffering from a broken