Nicholas Lezard warns that dumbing down Shakespeare to contemporary language actually removes all value from the work. He’s refering to the UK equivalent of an ebonics translation, but doesn’t his reasoning mean that translating the Bard to ANY language would in essence be killing its worth? Without the language, is Shakespeare “nothing special”?
Apparently he’s also trying to get gangstas n hoodies and people who can only communicate by text into Shakespeare. Yes, fine, and someone called Jacqui O’Hanlon, the RSC’s director of education, has broadly welcomed the book, saying, “Shakespeare is much more than a masterful story teller, it’s the way he uses his stories and the language he uses.”
The two striking things about this statement are (1) its total linguistic and even syntactical poverty, and (2) the fact that it seems to contradict completely the thrust of Baum’s project. Yes, it is about the language Shakespeare uses, and while we appreciate that it’s not easy for modern ears (the miracle is that so much of it is comprehensible after 400 years), without the language he is nothing special.