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The language of shakespeare

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The language of shakespeare

Postby Gillian05 » Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:01 pm

Any negative views on the language of shakespeare? (Speech topic) Any help welcome! :?
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Postby M. Henri Day » Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:53 am

I hope you weren't too disappointed, Gillian05, by the fact that no one here on the Agora seems to have been able to help you with the topic of your speech (are you studying rhetoric ?). Have you given the speech ? How did it go ?...

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曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby tcward » Mon Oct 31, 2005 4:13 pm

I must admit that I've been quite busy over the last few weeks and didn't take the time to even ask this back when it was posted. What does the question even mean?

-Tim
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Postby Stargzer » Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:55 pm

Well, not much I can say about the Bard;it's been way too long since high school English. :)

I was a chemistry major in college and managed to escape English courses; as a science major with a high Verbal SAT and a larger-than-expected freshman class, they exempted me from the freshman English requirement (too many freshmen, too few spaces). I did take a linguistics course in the spring of 1970, but I didn't learn much, at least not much I can remember. All I remember is that the professor did not like Pei or Chomskey, but did like Allen Walker Read. Due to circumstances beyond his control, the entire class, except for the lone English major, elected at the end of the semester to take the class pass/fail, no term paper, no exam. Since he gave no quizzes or graded homework, the only thing he could grade us on was our attendance at class, which he had said in the beginning was part of our grade. That was probably the only positive thing President Nixon ever did for me. :wink:
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:33 pm

Neither snide, nor inane, Larry, the above posting must be one of your best efforts ever ! I was so thoroughly confused after reading it - what is he talking about ? - that I sat still as a mouse (a rat ?) in enthralled admiration. And that final period - in the context a real doozy ! Guess I'll have to doff that hat again....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Stargzer » Tue Nov 01, 2005 5:41 pm

As with much in life, mon ami, nothing is ever really simple. It's a bit of a stream-of-consciousness journey from Shakespeare to high school to college, a journey which takes but scant microseconds in wetware, but which takes much, much longer to document and report. I shall endeavor to explain a little more history. At least this is the Res Diversae forum! :) So, settle back into the time machine as we hurtle back through the decades . . .

From the Wikipedia article on the Vietnam War:
In 1970, Prince Sihanouk was deposed by Lon Nol in Cambodia, who became the chief of state. The Khmer Rouge guerillas with North Vietnamese backing began to attack the new regime. Nixon ordered a military incursion into Cambodia in order to destroy NLF [National Liberation Front or "Viet Cong"] sanctuaries bordering on South Vietnam and protect the fragile Cambodian government. This action prompted even more protests on American college campuses. Several students were shot and killed by National Guard troops during demonstrations at Kent State.



From Wikipedia's Kent State Massacrearticle:
Aftermath and long-term effects

A photograph by photojournalism student John Filo which was taken shortly after the shooting depicts a teenager identified as Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over Jeffrey Miller's body as she cries in despair. The photograph, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Filo while still a student at Kent State, became the most enduring image of the tragedy (illustration above) and one of the most enduring images of the anti-Vietnam War movement in general. It gave the impression among many observers that Vietnam protesters included not only hippies, but also "decent suburban kids". (Vecchio was a fourteen year old runaway hanging out at campus.) The photograph was distributed around the world and solidified anti-war feelings.

In response to the attacks, President Nixon gave a speech, saying "This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy." Many students felt that this placed blame for the tragedy on the protesting students and not on the guardsmen. In the following days, Nixon repeatedly expressed regret for the tragedy and invited some of the Kent State students to the White House.

Shortly after the shootings took place, the Urban Institute conducted a national study that concluded the Kent State massacre was the single factor causing the only nationwide student strike in history - over 4 million students protested and over 900 American colleges and universities closed during the student strikes.

There was wide discussion in some ranges of the press as to whether these were legal shootings of American citizens or not, and whether the protests were legal or not. These debates served to further galvanize uncommitted opinion by the terms of the discourse. The term "massacre" was applied to the shootings by some individuals and media sources, as it had been used for the Boston Massacre of 1770, in which five were killed and several more wounded.

The shootings led to protests on college campuses throughout the United States, causing hundreds of campuses to close because of both violent and non-violent demonstrations. The Kent State campus remained closed for six weeks. Just five days after the shootings, 100,000 people demonstrated in Washington, D.C. against the war.


The shooting also led to the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song Ohio:

Music

The best known response to the Kent State University tragedy was probably the protest song "Ohio", written by Neil Young and performed by the folk-rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Written and recorded within weeks of the incident, the song begins:

Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'.
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin'.
Four dead in Ohio.
Crosby, Stills, and Nash (without Young) visited the Kent State campus for the first time on May 4, 1997, where they performed "Ohio" and several other songs for the 27th annual commemoration.


While all this happened, I was a typist on the campus' daily rag, called Today (our motto: "All the news that fits, we print"). Unlike the "official" college weekly, this paper was run by sophomores, i. e. all the editors were sophomores--upper-classmen could be reporters and so on, but editorially, things rolled over every spring to the incoming freshmen to keep things fresh. When the turnover came, I was selected Monday Editor (a bad day to try to fill a paper--the reporters were usually too busy partying on the weekend to write anything). As the call for a strike came, we newly-minted editors were sitting around to decide the paper's policy. The consensus among us was that it was probably a collosal waste of time, because nothing we could do could really affect the war. (I think we were right.)

Just as we were about to begin writing an editorial, the out-going Managing Editor burst in and announced, "That's it! Hold the presses! The Faculty Senate just voted--we're on strike!" And so it began.

Now comes the fun part, and the part that was beyond the professor's control:

Because of the disruption caused by the strike, the Faculty Senate decided a few days later how to handle the academic problem of grades for the spring semester. They ended up offering a set of eight options for students to choose from. One could be graded on:

1. All work done before May 8, no term paper, no final exam.

2. All work done before May 8 with a term paper, with no final exam.

3. All work done before May 8 with no term paper, with a final exam,

4. All work done before May 8, with a term paper and a final exam.

Any of these options could be taken for a letter grade or on a pass/fail basis, yielding the total of eight options.

As explained in the previous post, everyone in the linguistics course opted for Option 1 on a pass/fail basis, except for the lone English major, who felt his standing with the English Department would be affected by a pass/fail grade. When the prof said, "But I don't have anything to grade you on!" we reminded him that at the beginning of the term he said our attendance at class would be part of our grade. Since we were all there almost all the time, he had to give us a passing grade. "But, but . . . ." "The Faculty Senate says you have to do it." "But, but . . . ."

And so ended my college English experience, with a Pass in Linguistics thanks to President Nixon.

Oh, yes; I forgot: I should also like to thank Mr. Nixon for creating the chance for me to see my first, but sadly, only, Grateful Dead concert, across town at Whoopee Tech. :wink: And thereby hangs another pair of stories (and one looked like a nice pair, indeed!) :twisted:
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
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Postby Xiroteos » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:37 pm

I read somewhere that in today's society that Shakespear's plays would be considered racist, certainly the Jewish Shylock is portrayed in what today might seem racist terms, but was accepted in that time. Othello was another possibility for having seemingly racist overtones, but since he managed to survive after he killed his wife, I'm hard-pressed to see how that is racist except in reverse-- They do say that what's sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. but I digress.
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what's going on.
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Postby Stargzer » Tue Nov 01, 2005 8:44 pm

Xiroteos wrote:I read somewhere that in today's society that Shakespear's plays would be considered racist, certainly the Jewish Shylock is portrayed in what today might seem racist terms, but was accepted in that time. Othello was another possibility for having seemingly racist overtones, but since he managed to survive after he killed his wife, I'm hard-pressed to see how that is racist except in reverse-- They do say that what's sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. but I digress.


Sometimes, Digression is the better part of Valor on this board. :wink: Welcome aboard, Xiroteos!

Synopsis
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. [ :lol: ]

Outline
Othello, a Moor who has just eloped with the white Desdemona when the play opens, leaves Venice to command the Venetian armies in Cyprus, accompanied by his new wife and lieutenant Cassio. The treacherous standard-bearer, Iago, plants Desdemona's handkerchief on Cassio, managing to convince Othello that his wife has been unfaithful with the lieutenant. Othello kills Desdemona out of jealousy, before Iago's wife eventually reveals that Desdemona's affair was but an invention of Iago's. Iago immediately kills his wife also, and Othello then commits suicide in grief.


I can't speak for all of the Bard's works, but Othello seems not so much racist as just (!) a mere tragedy. Follow the link above for more details on Othello.

But yes, Elizabethan times, as well as other times, were, shall we say, different from today in some ways, and not so different in others (there are some who I think should have been left behind in the Dark Ages).

At least one of Grimm's Fairy Tales is anti-semitic.

Racism is not the only thing polite society would take offense at in Shakespeare's works. I understand there are many double-entendres and other language that would have him up on sexual harrassment charges. But then, someone has to entertain the boors amongst us.
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
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Postby Xiroteos » Tue Nov 01, 2005 9:29 pm

I only mentioned Otello because a white man was writing about a black guy,
no matter what the plot; in these circumstances, if the black man was a bad guy it's not pc.
A paranoid is someone who knows a little of
what's going on.
-- William S. Burroughs
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Postby gailr » Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:00 pm

Stargzer wrote:Racism is not the only thing polite society would take offense at in Shakespeare's works. I understand there are many double-entendres and other language that would have him up on sexual harrassment charges. But then, someone has to entertain the boors amongst us.

I've tutored a couple kids with impressive math/science credentials whose teachers had concerns with their reading levels; I always plunged them into Shakespeare as quickly as possible, casually pointing out some of the jokes if they need a little extra help. It opens their minds to learn that young adults of 400-500 years ago were also under the delusion that they were the first people in history to perceive the stupidity and duplicity of authority figures, to be anxious over social pressures up to and including turf wars, or to discover the joys of drinking, music, and amorous pursuits. (Then we do the 1001 Nights so they learn to approach unfamiliar names and words calmly, instead of panicking and just randomly slinging around letters and syllables.) It is gratifying when when the result is (1) a call that the local community theatre is performing 12th Night and would I like to go with? and (2) seeing them come out of college with that math or science degree, supported with sufficient language skills to order a beer wherever they may find themselves in the world, and to interview well enough to land a job they want. Image
Thanks, William!

-gailr

[disclaimer: "William" refers not only to the putative historical personage, but any and/or all others who may or may have not collaborated on producing the astonishing body of work so abscribed.]
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