Lost Of Meaning In Shakespeare's Translations

1264 words - 6 pages

Any encounter that we might have had with Shakespeare's work via books, theater, or, in a more modern era, films, has probably left most of us more than confused. We know that Shakespeare's plays are extremely hard to understand because of the ambiguity in his topics and the multiple meanings and interpretations that the readers and audience could give to his passages. To make things even harder, the language he used is not the same language we use nowadays. Because of this, many have tried to “translate” Shakespeare’s work into a easy-to-read English, however, when all the factors that make his plays difficult to understand are together at the same time, this becomes a not-so-easy job. ...view middle of the document...

The problem becomes even bigger when all the factors that make Shakespeare’s plays difficult to understand are all together at the same time, and this is when the translators are more prone to make mistakes. When texts are difficult to translate, many of the things that the author wanted to convey originally could be lost. In this case, in the many of the translations of Shakespeare’s plays factors such as imagery, meaning, emotions, pun, ambiguity, etc. are lost from their respective original texts.
In the Elizabethan Age, the time in which Shakespeare lived, individuals showed a lot of respect for their superiors and for people of more power, and this is not an exception in Shakespeare’s plays. Throughout his plays, individuals always show respect for their kings or governors, sons and daughters for their parents, servants for their masters, etc. Respect was not only shown by the way they spoke or the expressions they used, but also by the usage of proper pronouns. We can see that Shakespeare uses two different pronouns when referring to the singular second person pronouns: “thou” and “you.” Both pronouns were widely used by Shakespeare, and in most cases we, the audience, tend to give them equivalent meaning. However, in the Elizabethan Age, such pronouns were used for different purposes in different circumstances. After paying close attention to some passages, we can see that the pronoun “thou” is used by superiors towards their inferiors, and vice versa for the pronoun “you.” As a result, we come to the conclusion that the word “you” is used in formally to show respect, while the word “thou” is used in informal contexts. As a trilingual person, I confirm this interpretation because in French and Spanish, such different in pronouns is still present; “tu” and “vous” are the informal and formal second person pronouns in French and “tú” and “usted” are the ones in Spanish, respectively. In Modern English, this distinction between the formal and informal second person pronoun does not exists, and this is when a translation from Early Modern to Modern English starts losing its “originality.”
Throughout the play Othello, Shakespeare used both pronouns correctly based on the context. For Example, in Act 1, Scene 1, Brabantio refers to Roderigo in the following manner:
In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness,
Being full of supper and distempering draughts,
Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come
To start my quiet.
In the previous passage we can see that the use of the pronoun “thou” is informal. Brabantio, an important Venetian Senator, is talking to Roderigo, s young, rich, buy silly individual who is in love with Desdemona....

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