The Problems of Shakespeare's Language For Students
Students often find themselves puzzled by Shakespeare's language and his inventive use of words. In fact, his contemporaries may well have had similar problems.
One of the most frequent problems students encounter when they first tackle a Shakespeare play is the words. Much of this is simply the passage of centuries: English is a continually developing language, and Shakespeare’s time was one of particular linguistic upheaval. The English spoken in Renaissance London differed widely from our version of it, and indeed from the versions spoken in other parts of England at the time. There have been grammatical shifts as well as a vast change in vocabulary since the end of the sixteenth century: we no longer add “eth” to the end of verbs like “go”, and there is no longer a distinction between the different forms of “you” represented by “thou” and “ye”.