As you read Act I of Twelfth Night, you'll notice that Shakespeare often uses strange or complex sentence structures. 

Pick one sentence from Act I that you found particularly difficult to understand because of its syntax or word order. Using that difficult sentence, complete the following two activities:

     1. Rearrange the sentence, without changing or omitting any of the words, to make it as clear as possible to a modern-day reader. For example, "So in love with you am I" becomes "I am so in love with you."

     2. Translate the sentence into modern-day English, changing the words but keeping the meaning. For example, "So in love with you am I" becomes "I've got a huge crush on you" or "I love you so much."  (Come up with your own – don’t just steal it from Sparknotes!)


After completing these steps, post a message that includes the following items:
    The original sentence.
    Your rearrangement of the sentence.
    Your translation of the sentence.
    A short paragraph explaining why you think Shakespeare chose to arrange the sentence as he did.

Finally, give another student feedback on their translation.
Tristan
12/4/2012 12:45:50 pm

"Good my mouse of virtue, answer me."
"Answer me my good mouse of virtue"
"Come-on, answer me little girl."
Shakespeare probably arranged the sentence as he did to match the language of his time, the written language at least. He also puts some emphasis on the teasing "my mouse of virtue" by putting it first.

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Emily
12/5/2012 07:58:06 am

The putting "my mouse of virtue" first to tease was a good observation.

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Emily
12/5/2012 07:56:34 am

"Those wits that think they have thee do very oft prove fools, and I that am sure I lack thee may pass for a wise man."
"Those that think they have wits do very oft prove fools, and I may pass for a wise man that I am sure I lack thee."
"People that think they are smart are often foolish, but those who are sure that thery are not smart could pass for very wise."
Shakespeare might have arranged the sentence as he did because maybe the Fool wanted to sound wiser to prove his point and also because that was Shakespearean language.

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12/5/2012 08:19:11 am

Good observation pertaining to the sentence arrangement. I think, also, that your interpretation was accurate. Keep in mind that the Fool is addressing "Wit" when he says "thee." That doesn't really change your interpretation; it just adds another layer to meaning.

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Tristan
12/5/2012 01:18:34 pm

I like how you noted that the sentence arrangement was typical of that day and age, people sometimes forget that part.

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Lacayah
12/5/2012 03:27:39 pm

I was actually having some slight trouble with the last half of this sentence, but that cleared it all up. Thanks.

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12/5/2012 08:07:55 am

"I do I know not what, and fear to find mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind."
"I know not what I do, and fear to find mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind."
"I have no idea what I am getting myself into, and I'm afraid that I may find that I have misjudged this person by lookng at their appearances rather than their virtues."
Shakespeare most likely arranged the sentence this way for dramatic purposes and to place more emphasis on what the speaker is doing rather than on the fact that they doubt it is a good idea. He may also have done so to maintain rhythm here, as rhythm gains particular importance in the place where it is situated.

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Mary Sine
12/5/2012 11:23:39 am

Great job on translating the sentence into modern English, it was pretty confusing on its own. Good observation on how he might have written it that way to maintain the rhythm.

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Hannah H
12/9/2012 04:54:48 pm

Nice translation Hannah! That was a good sentence to pick. I liked how you talked about the rhythm! Because Shakespeare uses Iambic Pentameter, that is huge. It may be a way of him saying what he wants with the right amount of syllables.

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Mary Sine
12/5/2012 11:21:31 am

"I would be loath to cast away my speech, for, besides that it is excellently well penned, I have taken great pains to con it."
"I would be loath to cast away my speech for I have taken great pains to con it, besides that it is excellently well penned."
"I don't want to waste my speech because it is an excellently written speech, and I took great pains to memorize it."
I think that Shakespeare chose to arrange the sentence in this way because of the way that language was arranged at the time, and because he's Shakespeare and he does what he wants with words. The arrangement provides emphasis for the subject of the sentence, the speech, letting the audience and the other character on-stage, how much time was put into the speech to flatter Olivia. The word choice of "con" for describing the memorization of the speech also brings to mind the image of a thief, like the speech was stolen from someone else.

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Celeste Yahr
12/5/2012 11:54:21 am

Nice job Mary! Your translation really helped me understand what he was saying. Also I love the fact that you said he does what he wants because it's true. Also that you then made it serious and explained his good word choice of con. Good job!

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Brady
12/5/2012 12:31:30 pm

The image of the thief was one that I got too while reading this and it really does bring an interesting twist on the line. It makes me think whether this speech was actually genuine or not.

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Celeste Yahr
12/5/2012 11:50:24 am

"Who shortly also died, for whose dear love, they say, she hath abjured the company and sight of men."
"Who shortly also died, she hath abjured the company and sight of men, they say, for whose dear love"
People are saying that she has sworn off men completely.
I think that he arranged it like this so that you know right away it is because of her brother. He wanted that to be the focus. Wanted people to know it was in his honor.

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Kelti Lorence
12/5/2012 03:29:53 pm

Your analysis of the sentence structure was very accurate I believe. Immediately saying someone died definitely caught my attention more than if it started by saying she was abjuring men. Mainly because I wouldn't know what abjure meant without a dictionary so my instinct is to skip over those words and try to find something I understand. Having the main point start definitely put more of an emphasis on it and answered the questions of why she's ignoring men before we even had to ask them.

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Mackenzie
12/10/2012 01:00:46 pm

Nice choice in your translation, Celeste! I agree with the fact that he wrote the sentence this way so people would recognize the death of her brother.

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Brady
12/5/2012 12:28:17 pm

"Lady, you are the cruel'st she alive if you would lead these graces to the grave and leave the world no copy."

"Lady. if you would lead these graces to the grave and leave the world no copy you are the cruel'st she alive."

"You are the cruelest woman alive if you take your beauty to he grave without gracing the world with a child."

Shakespeare arranged these words to emphasize the fact if she wants the world to remember her then she needs to give up her grieving and find a man to have a child with.

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Kendall
12/5/2012 12:39:46 pm

Brady you did a really nice job of rearranging the words and deciphering the meaning. It helped me understand the meaning a lot more.

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Kendall
12/5/2012 12:36:19 pm

"Well, Sir, for want of other idleness, I'll bide your proof."
"Okay, Sir, I will wait on your proof, so that you will then leave me alone."
Olivia will hear what proof he has "that she is a fool" so he will stop trying to cheer her up with his jokes, and she can return to mourning her brother's death.
I believe Shakespeare arranged this sentence as he did to emphasis that Olivia just wants to be left alone. He started the sentence with, "for want of other idleness" showing that His absence will enable her return to her lonesome grieving. It almost seem as if she doesn't want to get over the death of her brother.

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Jonathon D.
12/6/2012 12:08:43 am

Good job on rearranging of the words. It really helped me understand the meaning better.

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Lacayah
12/5/2012 03:24:20 pm

-"I saw him put down the other day with an ordinary fool that has no more brain than a stone."
-"The other day, I saw him put down with an ordinary fool that has no more brain than a stone."
-The other day, I saw him get out-smarted by some guy who wasn't very smart in the first place."
- I think that Shakespeare chose to word it like this in order to suit the language of his time period. I think that he also chose to use the metaphor to show just how little that he thought of the fool's wit.

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Trevor
12/5/2012 04:11:18 pm

I never would have sen the humor in this line if you hadn't translated it the way you did. Nice job.

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Ariana
12/6/2012 02:51:02 am

I agree with Trevor, without you rewriting this I wouldn't have seen the humor!

Kelti Lorence
12/5/2012 03:24:42 pm

"What else may hap to time I will commit."
"I will commit what else may hap to time."

"I will let time tell what happens after that."

I think Shakespear wrote this sentence in this way because it put the main point at the beginning, that she was letting time tell what was going to occur. This allows the reader to focus on the fact that she had no plan and was letting time tell her story, rather than noticing she was committing herself the the course of nature. It puts emphasis on nature's way rather than the character and her decisions.

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Megan W.
12/6/2012 03:29:44 am

Your explanation was really good and interesting by noting that she trusted time rather than her own decisions.

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Trevor
12/5/2012 04:07:34 pm

Viola -“Know’st thou this counry?” Captain-“Ay, madam, well for I was bred and born not 3 hours travel from this very place”

“Do thou know’st this country?” “Ay, well, for I was bred and born not 3 hours travel from this very place, madam”

“Do you know this place?” “Yes, very well. I was born and raised in this country”

Shakespeare rearranged the words in Viola’s line simply to make readers like you or I go back over it again so it takes us twice as long to read his story. There is, however, a reason behind his strange structure and excess information in the Captain’s line. The Captain is trying to sound as smart as possible to this high class woman. He wants to put emphasis on every bit of his expertise of the country.

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Jacob Jones
12/5/2012 04:46:22 pm

I agree that Shakespeare writes the way he does so that it makes the reader reread the text. I also think that the Captain is trying to sound smart to impress a woman.

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Jacob Jones
12/5/2012 04:41:55 pm

That breathes upon a bank of violets, Stealing and giving odor. Enough; no more.
Stealing and giving odor, upon a bank of violets, that breathes no more; enough.
Life comes and goes, like the smell of flowers on a windy day. When someone dies they are not there anymore, like a flower that dies, does not give off odor anymore.
I think that he arrange the sentence as he did, so that it makes the reader have to look for the real meaning of the words, or to match the English that was spoken during that time.

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Jonathon D.
12/6/2012 12:07:42 am

Act 1 Scene 3

Toby: What a plaque means my niece to take the death of my brother thus? I am sure care's an enemy to life.

Rearrangement: What means my niece to take the plaque of death of my brother thus? Care's an enemy to life, I am sure.

Modern Day English: Why must my niece take the death of my brother so seriously? I am sure that grieving about someone is an enemy of life.

I think Shakespeare used this arrangement of words for a variety of reasons. First of all the time period that this was written in was how everyone spoke in that time period. So this type of language actually meant something to the other people in that time period. Second the arrangement of the words can sometimes have a double meaning. We look at a passage and we think it means one thing put it really means something else. This is why Shakespeare used this type of word usage.

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Carley
12/9/2012 11:50:28 am

I like your interpretation Jonathon! Good thinking with your paragraph at the end. Can you think of any specific examples where Shakespeare uses words with a double meaning?

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Ariana
12/6/2012 02:49:15 am

Viola: "I will believe thou hast a mind that suits with this thy fair and outward character."

Rearrangement: "Thou hast am mind that suits thy fair and outward character."

Modern day English: Your mind compliments your good appearance and character.

I think Shakespeare used this arrangement of words to match how people talked in his day but also to add drama and emphasis to the mind. He lists the mind first which emphasizes that back then the mind was more important than good looks.

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Megan Wall
12/6/2012 03:25:38 am

Act I Scene III

Original: "By my troth, Sir Toby, you must come in earlier o' nights; your cousin, my lady, takes great exceptions to your ill hours."

Rearranged: "You must come in earlier o' nights, by my troth, Sir Toby; my lady, your cousin, takes great exceptions to your ill hours."

Today's Language: "Oh my goodness, Toby, you can't stay out so late, it concerns and worries your cousin!"

I think Shakespeare chose to arrange the sentence as he did because by beginning the sentence with "By my troth," it sets the tone that something is going on that is not condoned. As he carries on the sentence with, "you can't stay out so late," he presents the problem and then brings about why his staying out late is a problem, "your cousin, takes great exceptions to your ill hours."

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Mika
12/8/2012 12:03:31 pm

Act 1 Scene

Viola: Make me a willow cabin at your gate
And call upon my soul within the house.

Rearranged: I would make me a willow cabin at your gate
And call my soul out from within the house.

Modern-Day English: I would build myself a little log cabin next to your house
And call my soul out from inside it.

Shakespeare arranged this sentence closer to modern english than most of his sentences. I think it is arranged this way because he wanted this line to stand out from his usual confusingly arranged ines.

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Carley
12/9/2012 11:44:24 am

Act I Sc 2
Original- There is a fair behavior in thee, captain, and though that nature with a beauteous wall doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee i will believe thou hast a mind that suits with this thy fair and outward character.
Rearrangement- Captain, there is a fair behavior in thee. And nature, though with a beauteous wall, doth close in pollution. Yet I will believe thou has a mind that suits thy fair and outward character.
Translation- Captain, you look to be a nice person. However, people that are nice and attractive on the outside are usually the ones that are corrupted on the inside. But I believe you are good looking on the inside and out.
I think Shakespeare used this language because it is the commonly used language back in the day and Viola is saying this to just a common captain, maybe to identify with him because she is trying to convince him to keep her double identity a secret.

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Hannah H
12/9/2012 04:48:47 pm

Act 1 sc.5
original- Fool: "Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage, and, for turning away, let summer bear it out.
Rearrangement- A good hanging prevents many bad marriages, or turning away and letting summer bear it out.
Translation- A hanging can prevent many bad marriages, and as for being dismissed, may the warm weather make it bearable.
I think Shakespeare arranged these words the way he did because it was just how people talked back then. I think also that the original brings out the "hanging of a bad marriage" more than my translation does, so he may (in some cases, not all) use this language to accent details.

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Mackenzie Cyr
12/10/2012 12:58:24 pm

"Oh, when my eyes did see Olivia first, methought she purged the air of pestilence."
"Oh, when my eyes did first see Olivia, methought she purged the air of pestilence."
"When I first saw Olivia, I thought she made the air around her more beautiful."
I believe that Shakespeare arranged this sentence the way he did to make it fit in with the times language and way of speaking. I believe he also did it to add to the description of Olivia's effect on Duke.

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