Shakespearean impacts on modern English language

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When people talk about legacies, what do they imply? For many, a legacy refers to an intangible imprint created by a specific individual, owing to a series of astounding actions or ideas affiliated to that individual. In the English and Literature scenes, William Shakespeare’s literary arts legacy lives on to date. Indeed, the majority of learners have had to contend with some of his works that are particularly based on plays or sonnets in further advancement of the diverse school curriculums. Shakespearean language forms are not only used in modern intentional and accidental speaking forms, but they are also deployed in modern plays to depict 17th and 18th-century life attributes (Lima 104). Scholars and theatrical managers tend to incline their productions based on the Shakespearean English owing to the lingual-cultural niche that it has impacted over time.

William Shakespeare’s use of the English language has a profound distinction and as such, it’s thought of the sauce that spices up the English language to date. In fact, many individuals, particularly non-readers of Shakespeare do not fathom the immortalization that they instigate on Shakespeare and his lifelong legacy. To date, individuals are actively involved in the use terms coined by William Shakespeare. The English language learners and overall fraternity of English users owe a great debt to Shakespeare for pioneering a culture of .lingual and semantic affiliations (Lima 104). The analysis will look into the profound impact that Shakespeare has for long generated in the English and Literature scenes through the open spectrum of a variety of a sonnet plays by Shakespeare. Thus, the analysis will incorporate the various aspects of language that comprise Shakespearean language such as phonology, pronunciation, and syntax in relation to the modern forms of English language expression. Most importantly, it will observe Shakespeare’s witty play of words to coin phrases and words that have channeled through the portal of study into modern English literature. Before the entrance of Shakespeare into the English and Literature scene, the English language was characterized by a non-stereotyped and arbitrariness aspect. However, after William Shakespeare’s entry into the English and Literature artistic scene, primarily characterized by plays in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the English language began to gain aspects of standardization. Indeed, the majority of vocabulary developed by Shakespeare were utilized by scholars in their consequent use of the English language. Furthermore, some of his words were incorporated into modern dictionaries. In addition to his development of new English terms, Shakespeare was instrumental in pioneering modern forms of poetic models and grammatical constituents. For instance, he pioneered the term “obscene,” as observed in  Love’s Labour Lost, Act 1.

In order to venture into Shakespeare’s diverse use of language, it is important to accustom oneself to the basics and building components of language. Language is a model coined ideograms designed to develop a communication model. In addition, an arbitrary communication system has to meet some standards to be identified as a language. The main ideograms of language that make up the facets of language encompass gesticulation or inscribed representation of deeds, ideas, and occurrences revolving around users of the language. Additionally, a language has to provide a sense of relevance and understanding to its affiliated users. On the other hand, a language communication system must have the capability to infuse various components of its make up facets to produce meaningful content. In the case f language use, content refers to the developed messages incorporated out of combining language facets. In the Shakespearean literary arts dimension, there exist instances of phonological aspects that we can relate to in the modern 21st century English. The ancient Elizabethan language deployed by Shakespeare conveys a portal into the brinks of modern English usage.

Phonology

Phonology is an instrumental aspect of the world of linguistics as it offers a platform upon which coherent language forms are derived and consequently put into practice. The phonological aspect of language encompasses the articulation of vowel and consonantal sounds to produce meaningful output (Kiparsky, 2014). On the other hand, it may be viewed from another spectrum that dictates the pitch, rhythm and tonal variations present in a specific language communication system.

Pitch

The aspect of tonal variation in Shakespearean English has been instrumental in the formation of modern forms of English through the use of a comma symbol. For instance, in the tragic play “Antonio and Cleopatra,” Cleopatra is observed actuating this aspect through her statement to Antonio;

“I do not like the matter, but…. (Kiparsky, 2014)”

The statement is found under Act two of the play and is a depiction of Cleopatra’s anger upsurge towards a messenger who had brought new that her lover, Antonio had married off another wife, Octavia while in Rome. In the modern world, when people differ about ideas but are obliged to submit to contradictory systems, they often incorporate the use of “…, but…” to express their disguised internal agony. As a result, such statements also carry a form of tonal variation from high to low pitch utterances. On the same note, another instance of total tonal variation includes Cleopatra’s dialogue with Maecenas;

“Cleopatra: Didst heare her speak? Is she shrill tongu’d or low?

Maecenas: Madam, I heard her speak, she is low voic’d”

In this case, Cleopatra’s egoistic nature splurges her to use a high pitch to denote authority. On the other hand, Maecenas, her subordinate utilizes a low formal note, to denote a sense of reverence and respect. Modern English conventions are mostly embedded towards the use of tonal variations especially in delivering speeches. In this light, depending on the context of the speech, a speaker is able to forge various aspects of tonal variations. In modern churches, for example, preachers are often observed raising their tones during the delivery of sermons in a bid to induce the message to the congregation. However, prayer time often offers a platform for low pitch and tempo as congregators murmur humility prayers to their deities.

Rhythm

In the English language, rhythm is denoted as a factor that mostly is mostly associated with the regularity or irregularity of word patterns present in the flow of communication. Rhythm is an essential facet of the English language in that it fosters fluency in communication practices. In spite of the fact that rhythm is greatly determined by the “stress” aspect, the specific words in an utterance greatly determine the rhythm aspect of a language. Rhythm is most evident in the articulation of lengthy and multifaceted sentences.  Shakespeare’s most conspicuous deployment of rhythm is most evident in his other play; Hamlet:

Polonius:  …Well spoken, with good accent, and good discretion (Kiparsky, 2014)

In this scenario, Polonius was addressing his daughter Orphelia with regards to her warning her about relations with her potential lover Hamlet. In this light, the term “accent” has been used to imply articulation of words and therefore, the entire statement is pronounced with a relatively lower speed to achieve his intentions of convincing Orphelia.

Morpheme development

The Elizabethan form of English as used by Shakespeare indicates the presence of numerous links with the modern English. The close relativity between the two forms of language speaks volumes about the cradle of the English language. A deeper scrutiny of some of the terms employed by Shakespeare in advancing his plays reveals the close ties between the two forms of language. Shakespeare’s wordplay remains very relatable in modern times. The main reason why moderners still refer to the use of Shakespeare’s terms is due to the fact that majority of them were coined from existing word vocabulary and annexed to form a standard form of communication. For instance, the phrase “good riddance” is common in modern-day rhetoric. However, many fail to realize that the term was coined by Shakespeare in his Troilus and Cressida play;

Thersites: I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, ere I come any more to your tents: I will keep where there is wit stirring and leave the faction of fools.
[Exits]
Patroclus: A good riddance (Kiparsky, 2014)

The term “riddance” appears to have its origins from the word “ride.” And combinatively annexed with the suffix “ance” after addition of an extra “d” morpheme just as seen in the term “clearance.” The term is extensively used to imply “discard” or to do away with something. In a bid to further strengthen the argument about Shakespeare’s mastery in coining terms, Shakespeare was committed to deriving words out common notions to befit an extremist aspect in terms of provoking his audience’s thoughts. Additionally, Shakespeare was intent on formulating a sense of unfamiliarity and eccentricity at the same time.

Phrasal Connotations

By far, this facet of language assumes the largest base in terms of the correlation between Elizabethan and modern forms of the English language. Modern English greatly borrows from the Shakespearean use of catchy terms and phrases. The educational curriculum is majorly responsible for the advancement of these phrasal connotations in that Shakespeare’s incorporation into modern curriculums fosters the passage of these terms from one generation to the other. Some of Shakespeares’s phrasal assertions have been adopted for formal and informal communication (Sebek 2016). With regards to theatrical plays, Shakespeare’s method of delivery possesses a unique essence that equates the balance between his language and a vast audience reception that has taken lasted for over three centuries. First, the majority of Shakespeare’s acts and consequents stage acts pioneer their assertions with the pronoun “I.” The use of the pronoun “I” offers a direct reference to the casts confined in the play and as such, acts as the portal to some of Shakespeare’s catchy wordplay forms (Sebek 2016). Furthermore, a distinctive aspect appears in most of his play bundles in that some pioneer with the term “I pray for you…” To explain, the majority of plays in his time did not idealize the use of the statement and as such, Shakespeare is set apart as a critical and creative thinker all in one.

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One of the most conspicuous phrases in modern times that was coined by Shakespeare is “Pay the devil his due” found in his play Henry 4,part 1,Act 1,Scene 2.

Orléans: And I will take up that with “Give the devil his due. (Lima 104)”

In both contexts, the phrase is used to imply “pay what you owe.”The phrase is particularly catchy owing to the mention of the word “devil” and as such, provokes thought as to what one could possibly owe the devil (Cohn 2015). The brilliance in wordplay is attributable to the mystery creation aspect and as such, various audiences hold on to Shakespeare’s witty coinage of weird and bizarre terms. The clinging has projected a long-lasting effect over the years and hence, subdued over the hearts of literature lovers. Consequently, the use of such similar terms is illuminated in modern conversations. For instance, peers may be conversing about owing a debt to some staunch creditor. In this light, the creditor may be a bank that charges high-interest rates compared to other banks. As a result, the peers may advise their peer friend with the use of the “pay the devil his due” quote to warn them against going into logger’s heads with the creditor. In this light, the “creditor” is symbolized as the “devil.”Failure to clear the debt may mean that the debtor would have to contend with dire consequences. In this light, the “devil” is idealized through the biblical allusion scope whereby he hurts individuals by instigating negative deeds upon them.

Another example of phrase coined by Shakespeare is “all that glisters is not gold.” As depicted   in Shakespeare’s play, “The Merchant’s of Venice.”

O hell! what have we here?
A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
There is a written scroll! I’ll read the writing.
All that glitters is not gold;

However, modern English connotates “glister” as “glitter.”The wordplay incorporated in the phrase is indeed a mixture of mystery and a touch of luxury. From ancient times, gold was considered a commodity for the affluent. The term was meant to warn people about taking caution of glittery things as not all were valuable. In modern language use, the term is utilized to warn individuals from attaching themselves to Ponzi and pyramid schemes in the commercial world. Ideally, Ponzi schemes are advertised as profitable models but are only baits to rob affiliates off their financial and physical assets.

Double entendre

Double entendre refers to the use of words that possess double meaning forms.  Shakespeare is vocal in advancing literary ideas through the use of double entendre. In Shakespearean language, the second meaning often connotates some sexually inclined notions. Double entendres are often mistaken for puns. However, puns differ from double entendres in that they incorporate the use of a single unit word. On the other hand, double entendres are capable of incorporating phrases in their disposition. Relatively, a double entendre is capable of harboring a pun within it. One perfect example of double entendre utilized by Shakespeare is sound in Twelfth Night; Act 1; scene 3 particularly during the conversation that takes occurs between  Sir Toby, Maria, and Sir Andrew.

In the play, Sir Toby summons Sir Andrew to come in and greet Maria by deploying a sexual pun based coined from the word “accost.”

Sir Toby: Accost, Sir Andrew, accost (Sebek 2016)

The term accost implies a formal salutation but could also imply open confrontation especially to fulfill sexual favors.

Another form of double entendre utilized in the same play and encompassing the same characters is when Maria shakes hands with Sir Andrew. As such, Maria asserts, “It is dry sir.”In the Elizabethan era, an individual with a dry hand was considered impotent. That is, unable to sire children. Thus, the assertion by Maria had some sexual connotation to it.

Poetry

The absence of exemplary poetry in Elizabethan poetry also created a niche for the advancement of Shakespearean language.

In his poems and plays, Shakespeare developed numerous words, often annexing Latin, French, and native forms. Indeed, Shakespeare’s impressive growth of the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, comprises words such as pageantry, radiance, and schoolboy and stillborn. For instance, Shakespeare’s poem, “The Rape of Lucrece” explores the aspect of lust in a special use of vocabulary that other members in the same scene cannot contend with at that particular time. For instance, a few lines in the poem spit some lines; “For the nightly linen that she wears

He pens her piteous clamours in her head,

Cooling his hot face in the chastest tears

That ever modest eyes with sorrow shed

O, that prone lust should stain so a pure bed (Sebek 2016).”

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Musicality

The use of music in a play is particularly important in that it is also a language with its own form of syntax. When annexed with the language used in plays, it serves the primary purpose of appealing to the audience’s emotions. Shakespeare’s plays incorporate musical aspects and as such allow the development of appeal to potential audiences. For instance, Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night” begins with the line “if music is the food of love, play on” and later in the play, music popped up when Benedick and Beatrice were being tricked (Lindley, 2014). On the other hand, in his other play “Antonio and Cleopatra,” Cleopatra is often observed requesting for music. In actual performance of the plays, music proves an instrumental tool in the development of appeal and thus attached to the audience through the aspects of rhythm and repetitive rhetoric (Lindley, 2014). Additionally, musical aspects improve audience engagement into the play and consequently improve liveliness in its performance.However, in a play like Midsummer night’s dream, music is literary used as an illusionary tool that actually sends individuals to sleep. The comparison idealizes the importance of  Shakespearean lingual facets over other writers’ writing styles and hence the distinction as the best English and literature writer for the past four centuries to date. Musical aspects improve audience engagement into the play and consequently improve liveliness in its performance.

Conclusion

In the English and Literature sphere, William Shakespeare’s literary arts legacy lives on to date. Shakespearean language forms are not only used in modern intentional and accidental speaking forms, but they are also deployed in modern plays to depict 17th and 18th-century life attributes. To date, individuals are actively involved in the use terms coined by William Shakespeare. The English language learners and overall fraternity of English users owe a great debt to Shakespeare for pioneering a culture of .lingual and semantic affiliations. Language is a model coined ideograms designed to develop a communication model. Language has to provide a sense of relevance and understanding to its affiliated users. In the Shakespearean literary arts dimension, there exist instances of phonological aspects that we can relate to in the modern 21st century English. The phonological aspect of language encompasses the articulation of vowel and consonantal sounds to produce meaningful output and is mostly viewed from another spectrum that dictates the pitch, rhythm and tonal variations present in a specific language. In the English language, rhythm is denoted as a factor that mostly is mostly associated with the regularity or irregularity of word patterns present in the flow of communication. The main reason why moderners still refer to the use of Shakespeare’s terms is due to the fact that majority of them were coined from existing word vocabulary and annexed to form a standard form of communication. By far, the connotation facet of language assumes the largest base in terms of the correlation between Elizabethan and modern forms of the English language. Some of Shakespeare’s phrasal assertions have been adopted for formal and informal communication. In his poems and plays, Shakespeare developed numerous words, often annexing Latin, French, and native forms. Additionally, the absence of exemplary poetry in Elizabethan poetry also created a niche for the advancement of Shakespearean language.Further, Shakespeare’s plays incorporate musical aspects and as such allow the development of appeal to potential audiences. For instance, Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night” begins with the line “if music be the food of love.

Did you like this sample?
  1. Cohn, Ruby. Modern Shakespeare Offshoots. Princeton University Press, 2015.
  2. Kiparsky, Paul, and Gilbert Youmans, eds. Rhythm and Meter: Phonetics and Phonology. Vol. 1. Academic Press, 2014.
  3. Lima, Christina. “Shakespeare’s English: A Practical Linguistic Guide.” (2015): 103-105.
  4. Lindley, David, ed. Shakespeare and music. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.
  5. Sebek, Barbara, and Stephen Deng, eds. Global traffic: discourses and practices of trade in English literature and culture from 1550 to 1700. Springer, 2016.

 

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