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A Shakespearian Grammar: An Attempt to Illustrate Some of the Differences Between Elizabethan and Modern English, for the Use of Schools

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12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The classic on its subject 26 septembre 2001
Par Joost Daalder - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Belle reliure
This book should be in print, ready for keen students of Shakespeare to buy. I have a reprint by Dover, which I bought in 1967 and have intensively used; it is still in very good edition, after all those years, and was very cheap when I bought it. An enterprising publisher should do something similar at *this* time! Although Abbott wrote the book well over a century ago, it has not actually dated, but remains the one Shakespeare Grammar used by virtually all scholars and editors for guidance on the subject, and to refer other readers to. The language used by Abbott is not too technical to make his work accessible to university students, as well, though unfortunately these days few people study any kind of grammar. The book does NOT, as one might hope, offer interpretations of all the passages in Shakespeare which are notably difficult because of their grammar/syntax. It DOES, however, very well explain which grammatical features of Elizabethan English differ from our own; why those differences matter; and why we are sure to understand Shakespeare far better if we are aware of them. The material is very well arranged, in clearly identifiable paragraphs. Anyone who bothers to read the book right through will certainly come to understand Shakespeare much better as a result, though most readers will use this guide for reference only, and still benefit. There is also a good and useful section on prosody at the end of the book. Very much worth buying if you can get it, in whatever decent shape; and should be an essential part of any library containing books on Shakespeare. There is, in fact, no competitor or alternative. - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University (South Australia)
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A unique and well informed study 12 juillet 2005
Par Hakuyu - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The great beauty of Abbott's study is that it is pre-eminently readable. Still, there's no pleasing some people. One reviewer has criticised Abbott's book as 'unreadable.' Perhaps it is, if you can't be bothered to stretch your mind to embrace the quite difference nuances of Shakespearian English - as against our own.But - wasn't that the purpose of the book, anyway?

Whoever you are - if you like Shakespeare, your appreciation of his work - plays and poems alike, will be enhanced by digesting the lessons and examples cited in Abbott's book, which has served us valuably since its first appearence - in 1869. It is, admittedly, a painstaking work. As such, it contains an abundance of detail which may - on first sight, seem rather overwhelming. But after all, would any reader be happy to find that the author has reneged on his duties? With Shakespeare, much often hinges on the nuance of simple particles. Abbott has carefully collated material exemplifying Shakespeare's use of grammatical particles and their place in sentence construction - spanning adverbs, adjectives, articles, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, relative pronouns, verbs, inflections, tenses, ellipses, prefixes, contractions, word lengthenings etc. - with supplementary observations about prosody, pronunciation thrown in for good measure.

If certain grammatical useages have left you wondering about the nuance of a particular line or passage in Shakespeare's work, Abbot's study will surely help. Quite obviously, idioms no longer in current use are likely to be among the first we wish to check out. However, more importantly, in a sense, this book will yield unexpected discoveries when it comes to the understandable but regrettable error, of reading a contemporary nuance into terms or idioms which had an entirely different meaning in Shakespeare's age. In short, as against idioms which are unfamiliar and therefore elicit conscious doubt, some of the trickier parts of Shakespeare are to be found in sentences which seem to resemble modern English - but carry another meaning. The fact that Abbott had to devote seven or eight pages to explaining the multivalent potentiality of a simple term like -'but,' is instructive viz. -

"And, but she spoke it dying,

I would not believe her lips.' Cymb. v. 5. 41

- meaning "unless she spoke it dying. . ."

"Have you no countermand for Claudio yet

But he must die tomorrow? " M for M. iv. 2. 95

- meaning 'to prevent that he must die' (or prevent his death).

" It cannot be but I am pigeon-livered"

Hamlet, ii. 2. 605

i.e. " It cannot be that I am otherwise than a coward."

" Her head's declined and death will seize her, but

Your comfort makes her rescue." A. & C. iii, 11, 48

- i.e. "only your your comfort. . . . "

Or consider this use of the relative pronoun:

"I hate the murderer, love him murdered. "

- Rich. 11. v. 5. 40

- which seems to mean "I love the fact that he is

murdered, " when it actually means "I loved him that was

murdered. "

Again, without a primer such as Abbott's, we are unlikely to negotiate our way through the semantic minefield represented by the varied nuances of 'thou, thee and thine' etc. We might suppose that they all signify a straightforward equivalent for 'you' and 'yours' etc. in modern English - but, a repeated use of 'thou' is sometimes pejorative, especially when addressed to strangers, something we would not suspect, unless alerted to this convention. Even more complex, perhaps, is the alternate use of 'thou' and 'you' - in compound sentences. This was not - as we might be tempted to think, a shift between 'formal' and casual forms of address. The 'you' was also formal. In this respect, the subtle nuances of Elizabethan English resemble Japanese, insofar as the stress upon - or relative neglect of - an honorific, can convey approval or contempt, without having to say too much in the process. This is the other side to Shakespearian English, which is not always expressed in 'crisp' epithets of the 'much-ado-about-nothing' or 'all's-well-that-ends well' type. These subtle inflexions are an essential aspect of Shakespeare's English and despite its relatively dated origins, Abbott's study remains one of the best places to look for a guide to the grammar of Shakespearian English.
Thorough and well organized 27 mai 2013
Par R. Magnusson Davis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Though my study relates to the earlier 16th century, this book has been most helpful in helping me identify and understand idioms and obsolete usages of all sorts. Odd pronoun uses, the many unfamiliar ellipses, obsolete senses of words: there is a lot here, and well indexed. The author reveals that necessary fineness of thought that is essential to a good grammarian.
Grammar and its birth in Modern English Essay study 18 mai 2014
Par Raven Saint - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Helped a lot in an essay about the grammar and how it related to modern English grammar. Very good as a source material for Shakespearean English and Grammar College classes.
7 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A difficult approach to a difficult topic 3 avril 2005
Par Wayne Anderson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This book was written by a schoolteacher as a proposed textbook for schoolboys -- in 1870 (at least, the third edition). I will not dispute Mr. Abbott's knowledge of Shakespeare; it is obviously extensive. But the history of the English language is far better understood now than it was in his time, and -- to put it lightly -- this book is long overdue for an extensive overhaul.

Basically, the English language had just emerged, a century before Shakespeare, from its greatest change since the Norman conquest in 1066. By Shakespeare's time it was still in flux, undergoing wild and unpredictable changes, and there were precious few rules governing grammar. Mr. Abbott attempts to impose an 1870's English teacher's concept of structure on a chaotic and glorious phase of the English language, with a predictable result: For every grammatical rule he invokes, he then cites the numerous "irregularities" that break it. The followup is inevitable: he scrambles, proposing numerous rules in an attempt to govern those irregularities, until the proposed structure becomes so unwieldy as to be almost unusable.

In addition, the structure of the book is nearly unreadable, being structured more like a reference work (e.g., a dictionary) than even the workable lesson book for which purpose it was written.

Finally, Mr. Abbott seems oblivious to the fact that what Shakespeare wrote was theatrical English, which, while related to English as it was spoken by Elizabethans as an everyday language, can NOT be taken as a consistent example of the same. Instead, he seems to relate every passage and phrase Shakespeare ever wrote to some grammatical rule, which is implied to be everyday usage.

This is not to say that it has no value. As a reference work, I found the parts near the back of the book to be more useful: it includes studies of transpositions, prefixes and suffixes, contractions, variable syllables, and accent that can be helpful to the study of Elizabethan English. Still, I would recommend checking anything learned from this book against a more contemporary authority, such as Dennis Freeborn or David Crystal.

On the whole, I'd call it a useful but cumbersome reference work, containing some very erudite scholarship, but crippled by its unreadability.
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