WOTD: Yerk

Yerk yerk yerk! It’s fun to say. It almost sounds like a word Dr. Seuss would write. YERK!

yerk (v.) IPA Pronunciation: yerk
thrust, strike, beat

…and their wounded steeds
Fret fetlock deep in gore and with wild rage
Yerk out their armed heels at their dead masters,
Killing them twice.
- Henry V (IV.vii)

Here’s a tip: Read through a play of Shakespeare without looking at footnotes. You don’t need them as much as you think you do. But keep a notepad handy and write down some interesting or unusual words to look up later. That is, in fact, how I came across this word!

WOTD: Hilding

Here’s a word I was asked to define today while in a rehearsal for a production Romeo and Juliet I am “voice/text coaching,” it’s also another word you can use to badmouth someone.

hilding (n. or adj.) IPA Pronunciation: hilding
worthless, good-for-nothing

Out on her, hilding!
- Romeo and Juliet (III.v)

Thou art a hilding fellow that doth not
Spice up thy language with a Shakespeare diss.

Wherefore art thou ignorant?

If I decided to make a Word-of-the-Millenium category, this word would be the only entry: WHEREFORE.

It means WHY! NOT WHERE! Juliet is asking “Why are you ‘Romeo’? Why not have a different name?” etc. Not “where are you”. This word has been used incorrectly everywhere for as long as I can remember. People love to use Shakespeare quotations to make their essays, articles, speeches sound clever. But many just make themselves look like idiots because they didn’t bother to do their research.

Only a few minutes ago I came across a post online titled “Wherefore art thou, Duncan?” Referring to Duncan Hunter, one of the the candidates in the 2008 presidential popularity contest. I was irked. I hesitated to write to the author and correct him, but I think I will. It’s never to late to be schooled.

It’s really not so hard to remember anyway. WHY? BECAUSE: WHEREfore? THEREfore. WHEREwolf? THEREwolf. So if you’re out and about and you hear another improper use of this word, please feel free to verbally slap the offending party with your superior intellect. Actually, politely correct them. It will go down much smoother for both of you.

EDIT : I sent a message to the writer last night right after this post. Today I got a reply, he’s changing the title. The world is safe again from improper usage of the word, but for how long? Stay tuned next week for the Adventures of BardMan!

Blood and the Bard = Bad?

While reading a post on another Shakespeare Blog (I’m not the only one!) I found an interesting post that sparked some interest: Bloody Good Shakespeare? – The Shakespeare Blog. You should see my reply underneath the post.

The post brings up a good question: “Does blood and gore have a place in Shakespearean production?” My answer: absolutely. Now I’m not a fan of slasher films, I don’t enjoy blood and gore for the sake of having blood and gore. If it’s there for a reason, then sure. There’s also suspension of disbelief to consider. It’s theatre, so not all the bells and whistles have to be there like in film. It all depends on the directors concept.

But some people are uneasy about excessive blood in one of Shakespeare’s works. Not everyone can stand to watch Julie Taymor’s Titus, a very bloody film of Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. But why this unwillingness to see the blood? Shakespeare wrote plenty of action filled plays. The histories are full of large battles between kingdoms, so are many action movies produced today. People don’t mind seeing gruesome killings in Braveheart. What’s the difference?

Many see Shakespeare’s works as “high art,” and “classic poety” which calls for a highly controlled intellectual and, quite frankly, boring experience. NO! Shakespeare’s plays were written to entertain the masses. People like to see a good fight! And quite often the outcome of a fight is blood being spilled. When Romeo and Juliet kill themselves and fall on top of eachother, are we supposed to think “Oh, how beautiful!” I don’t think so. This is a tragedy, not a romantic ideal. If Romeo vomited from drinking the poison, and Juliet bled all over herself, Romeo, and whatever else was around we would be rupulsed! Then their families walk in to a disgusting and tragic scene and realize that the cost of their feuding has been too great.

Now I’m not suggesting that this needs to be done for every production. Not a lot of theatre’s have the proper resources to do that sort of effect. My point is that people can’t be afraid to use blood where it’s appropriate. Shakespeare is entertainment. When you have a violent story, expect to see violence.

WOTD: Sith

Not as in Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the. Hm. If Darth Vader were a Shakespearean character, who would he be? I’ll get back to you on that one. Do you have any ideas? But I digress… on to the word!

sith (conj.) IPA Pronunciation: sith

…I do not know
Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do;’
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do’t.
- Hamlet (IV.iv)

Our modern word “since” is used a conjunction as well as an adverb and a preposition, but all the uses I found of “sith” are a conjunction, but there may be exceptions. But why bother? Students these days don’t learn these parts of speech in school. They are taught, though soon forgotten.

The new year approaches

With 2008 only hours away, a time of reflection seems appropriate. No, I won’t tell you about my year. But I’m definitely thinking about it and I’m sure you’re thinking of yours too. With a new beginning comes new possibilities. Shakespeare wrote about characters who had so much in front of them. The choices they made paved the way to their end. Let us hope that this year will be a comedy! (Not all of them ended in marriage, if you’re not ready for that sort of commitment).

Shakespeare didn’t have anything to say about New Years’ specifically, he wasn’t a holiday-play kind of guy. Oh well. I’ll leave you to think up something clever to say! Let’s try to get some things done that we didn’t make much headway on this year. I’ve got a list of topics I’d like to discuss on this blog. I also have plenty of reviews to write. Happy New Year! Onwards and upwards!

So, on your patience evermore attending,
New joy wait on you! Here our play [or year] has ending.

- Pericles (V.iii)

WOTD: Deceptious

The great part about Shakespeare’s language is that it contains certain uncommon words that are fun on the tongue.

deceptious (adj.) IPA Pronunciation: deceptious
deceptive, deceiving

As if those organs had deceptious functions
- Troilus and Cressida (V.ii)

Deceptious is among the list of words in Shakespeare that is very similar to a modern word that means the same thing, but sound this one out. Play with the sounds! There is a certain severity in this sound that just isn’t present in any word you might normally use. Shakespeare knows how to play with his words to make them, well, speak. Spice up your modern chat with some classic language.

WOTD: Periapt

There is no immediate significance to me choosing the word. It was a completely random selection. Or maybe it was fate. Who can tell for sure?

periapt (n.) IPA Pronunciation: periapt
charm, amulet, talisman

Now help, ye charming spells and periapts
- Henry VI, Part 1 (V.iii)

Joan? That’s not a Shakespearean name. Of course the character is Joan La Pucelle. Perhaps you’ve heard of her? Yes you have! She’s more commonly referred to as Joan of Arc. AHHHH! Now you remember…