Archive for the Language Category

A Drinking Club with a Shakespeare Problem

Posted in Language, Performance with tags , , on 2014/03/20 by mattermind

When I was in college learning German, students were given the opportunity to participate in an informal gathering called Stammtisch. What it amounted to was a group of students and teachers meeting informally at a local pizza joint (I love you, Track Town) to drink vast quantities of beer (a short walk from campus) and speak volubly without any inibriation inhibition.

For those at home wondering, it worked more or less. There’s nothing like a little buzz among friends to open up lines of communication in a foreign tongue. Or even your own. Especially kids made self- conscious by a profound language with incredibly long nouns and multiple-clause sentences with the verb stuck all the way at the end.

Which is not to endorse alcohol in academic pursuits – or any pursuits for that matter – other than an honest good time.

I was reminded, sigh, of those nostalgic college years as I stumbled upon news of Drunken Shakespeare. While I have no doubt that the Bard imbibed from time to time, I assumed (accurately, it turns out) that the title may have more in common with my collegiate German obsession than Shakespeare’s personal drinking habits.

Thus, I promulgate the news that Drunk Shakespeare is on tap to unleash a new round of dramaturgical shenanigans. A self-proclaimed “drinking club with a Shakespeare problem,” they mix alcohol and acting to no doubt outrageous effect.

Here is a LINK to the full description. But for those desiring a li’l nip, here is a reasonably sober description:

” For over four-hundred years, the Drunk Shakespeare Society has been meeting and drinking. And drinking, and doing DRUNK SHAKESPEARE.

The membership invites audiences to join them for a meeting in their society lounge. The evening begins with one actor drinking more than a sophisticated amount of alcohol before attempting to lead the cast through a Shakespeare story in sixty minutes. The results are messy, outrageous, and the evening devolves into debauchery.”

Sounds like the prefect prescription for those who take their Shakespeare a wee bit, ahem, too seriously.


Shakespeare & the King James Bible

Posted in Context, Language, Shakespeareana with tags , , on 2014/01/19 by mattermind

King James


Anyone even vaguely familiar with the Christian Bible knows that there has never been a translation yet that surpassed the King James.

What nobody ever mentions – and something I had never before considered – is that the KJV Bible was created and produced at the very pinnacle of Shakespeare’s career. Not by him, of course. Though there are legends about his alleged involvement.

But how many people, when they praise the unmatched linguistic beauty of that bible, know it sprang from the very same time and place as Shakespeare?

This is from Wikipedia:

The King James Version (KJV), commonly known as the Authorized Version (AV) or King James Bible (KJB), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611.

Now that I know this, it makes me wonder how much of Shakespeare’s eloquence was “in the air” during that momentous decade of literary achievement… not to take anything away from him, but rather to better understand the context of early 17th century England.

UPDATE: Thanks to Karla Tipton for alerting me to a documentary called The Story of English. The following is an excerpt from episode 3 titled “Muse of Fire” dealing specifically with the English language around Shakespeare’s time:

The documentary in its entirety may be viewed HERE.

Who knows how destiny ultimately works, or why certain people happen to be born at just the right moment in time. Such questions are not mere idle speculation. Famous authors and philosophers such as Hegel and Leo Tolstoy famously pondered whether great individuals make history or whether history makes great individuals.

It’s fun (and unnerving) to consider such possibilities as: had William Shakespeare never been born, would history have invented somebody else just like him? Or: if William Shakespeare had written in any other age, how would his work have sounded?

With the coincidence of Shakespeare’s career high point occurring exactly during production of the King James Bible, it’s tempting to imagine that Shakespeare had a hand in the KJV. And it turns out that such legends exist.

From Wikipedia:

For several decades a popular rumor has persisted that William Shakespeare placed his mark on the translated text of Psalm 46 that appears in the King James Bible, although scholars view this as unlikely. By coincidence, the 46th word from the beginning of Psalm 46 is “shake” and the 46th word from the end (omitting the liturgical mark “Selah”) is “spear”. Shakespeare was in King James’ service during the preparation of the King James Bible, and he was 46 years old in 1611 when the translation was completed.

I need to investigate further. But now and forevermore, Shakespeare and the King James Bible will be linked together in my head and heart, if only by a bizarre coincidence of time and space.

In a related note, I do not believe in coincidence!

Wolf of Wall Street Sets F-Bomb Record

Posted in Language on 2014/01/04 by mattermind

According to Time Magazine (which cites Variety, who should know) Martin Scorsese’s new film has broken a dubious record by uttering the F word an astounding 2.81 times PER MINUTE.

If you assume that books are better, the source material upon which the film is based uses it over 730 times. I can’t even imagine.

Find out more HERE

And for those wondering what this has to do with Shakespeare, I’m assuming that anybody who loves him cares about language, especially in the arts.

If not, feel free to let me know in the comments. Please refrain from dropping any more f-bombs.