links for 2009-05-22

  • In my opinion, John McWhorter vastly underestimates the accessibility of Shakespeare's language:

    "The problem is whether Shakespeare's English is the language we speak at all. English of the late 1500s presents us with a tricky question: At what point do we concede that substantial comprehension across the centuries has become too much of a challenge to expect of anyone but specialists?

    "There is indeed just such a gap. Shakespeare lovers of all kinds miss much more of Shakespeare's basic meanings than they tend to suspect. Way back in 1898, Mark H. Liddell made this point in the Atlantic, taking as an example Polonius' farewell to Laertes in Hamlet. The speech is full of hidden deceptions, often leaving little more understanding of what Shakespeare said than we would of a Jamaican saying goodbye to his son in patois."

    Really? I don't think Polonius is all that hard to understand. It takes a little effort, but so do many worthwhile things.

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