Shakespeare's Language

The way he and his people spoke

The Challenge

The English that was spoken and written by the people of his time was almost impossible to understand. People wrote how they wanted to and many play writes would use the spelling they wanted to. This causes problem with actors reading the plays and us now, trying to understand. For example when one of Shakespeare's characters talks it is difficult to understand and many assume this is because of his madness.
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His Play Language

Many say Shakespeare did not use specific stage directions to his actors, yet the plays are littered with them. Many times the actual story is very different from the actions of the stage actors. When Leontes is arguing with his wife because he thinks she is cheating on him her character uses very open body language which is opposed to his thoughts on the situation. He actually limited his vocabulary for each of his plays to create a challenge for himself. He had a remembered vocabulary of 29 000 words (many were single words in variant forms and this number was rounded) so this obviously meant he had to limit thousands of words. Imagine if had let the words flow.
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The English Language

As I previously mentioned Shakespeare's English was an odd collection of strange spellings and made up words.Shakespeare himself made up many words. These include the words encave and enmesh. He was a very creative man and this was not a stretch to see him penning new words into being. Among his most popular were the words addiction and assassination. Shakespeare did not improve the problem of disorder in the English language and in fact probably made it worse, but you can always thank him for some of the fantastic words he created.

Punctuation & Grammar

Shakespeare used silence in his plays to emphasize breaks in dialogue. For example when someone was done talking he would put large gaps in between the next person speaking. This showed the actors when they should speak.

Another way that he could have shown brief breaks was to use a colon. In his time a colon was used to indicate a break larger then a comma but shorter than a period, or full break. The meaning of colons have changed over time and may have contributed to some English confusion.