November 26, 2008
Of course, not all of us can understand the language of Shakespeare, also known as Middle English. We have stopped using a large fraction of the now strange-sounding words that were used by Shakespeare and other writers in 16th century England. If you have ever tried to read any 500-year-old pieces of writing, I wouldn’t blame you for giving up after a few sentences. Phrases were worded very differently and lines spoken by actors included words that are sometimes not defined in dictionaries. While I was rewriting A Midsummer Night’s Dream for my school project (read more about how I started that project here), I wanted to use some original quotes from the play, as long as they weren’t too confusing. My aid in this task was a book of the whole play (buy the book here) that had numbered lines; on the right page of the book were the lines from the play, and on the left, puzzling words and/or phrases were translated into more easy-to-understand wording. This helped me choose quotes that I liked and make them easier to comprehend.
I obviously cannot translate the whole play for you on just this website (and especially not all at one time), but what I can do is help you understand parts of it. I am going to post separate sections of the play every week or so and will rephrase unclear words/phrases. This, hopefully, will help you understand more of what the play is talking about. After that, I will show you what my abridged version of the play looks like. Until then, check back every week for translations.