Sunday, December 30, 2012

Recently Read: Shakespeare's Henry V

Needless to say it was excellent, but I think it's been reviewed before so straight on to the few little knick-knacks I noticed.

There was a bit in the play where the French word for God, 'Dieu', was comically confused with the English word 'dew'. This seemed to chime with the idea I had before about the words Jew, Druid, David, etc being somewhat synonymous at sometime (see my last post about the book 'When Scotland Was Jewish'). 'Jew' and 'Dieu' sound almost identical. I wonder if there's any relation? A Google search might enlighten me later.

I also learnt the French word for 'goddess' from the play; déesse.

Another thing I gleaned was that in some of the original Shakespeare texts the word 'Devil' was spelt 'Deule', which seemed interesting. I'm sure it was still pronounced the same and that the 'u' just did the job of a 'v', it would be interesting if the pronunciation was different though.

Oh, and before I forget there was plenty of swear-wordiness and innuendo. There's the infamous scene (III.4) where the French Princess Katherine mispronounces the words 'foot' and 'count' so they sound like the words 'fuck' n 'cunt' - or rather the French words 'foutre' and 'con' which mean the same thing.
See -

There's also a bit later on involving Katherine where she uses another French word that apparently means 'fuck' - 'baisees'.

Katherine: Les dames et demoiselles pour etre baisees devant leur noces, il n'est pas la coutume de France.
Henry: Madam my interpreter, what says she?
Alice: Dat it is not be de fashion pour les ladies of France, I cannot tell vat is baiser en Anglish.
Henry: To kiss.
Alice: Your majesty entendre bettre que moi.

That first line basically translates as "it's not the custom in France for woman to get fucked before their wedding day." From the passage it would seem that English swear words were viewed in much the same way then as they are now. "Swear in French as much as you like, but don't mention the F-word!" The plays of Shakespeare get more like Carry On films each time I read 'em. Anyway, yet more evidence that the works of Shakespeare were never as highbrow as people seem to think they are.

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