Emily’s Editorial: The Ever-Changing English Language


Emily Stocksdale, Literature Editor

After enduring multiple class periods filled with harshly mispronounced words and stilted sentences, I have grown to dread the daily reading of The Taming of the Shrew in my language arts class.  While Shakespeare is a wonderful writer and this particular play is no doubt entertaining, I cannot stand listening to other students as they fumble through the various words and phrases as if they were in another language.  Certainly the play would be much better received if we were to read it on our own or listen to it on a track.  Why, then, are we still reading it out loud?

It is interesting to me that we harp so much on keeping the original wording of literature intact.  This tendency no doubt contributes to many people’s inability to read and understand text such as Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew; since we no longer speak in the same manner or with the same phrases, such literature can be hard to understand and, in effect, to read aloud.  However, all of this trouble could be mitigated if we simply converted such works to a more modern form of our language.  Is it so blasphemous to rewrite Romeo and Juliet or even the Bible in a way that is more easily understood by the modern English speaker? Granted, some of the beauty of the original work may be lost in translation but is it better for high school students to be turned away from Shakespeare simply because much of his writing is a bit more difficult to understand than other classic—and more modern—literature? I do not suggest that we alter the plays completely, but I do find it interesting that we continue to struggle around outdated language when the whole point of the work can be found in a million more important components, such as plot and tone, which may not even be understood because of confusing diction.