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date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article notes that, in encounters with Shakespeare's texts, in attempts to explain his language, one needs to be aware of the cultural scene of language as a critical part of the historical. It suggests that Shakespeare's English comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor, is a good place to begin such a process, by addressing ‘miscomprehension sequences’ within the play, and between the readers and the play. The analysis consists of four parts: first, an overview of how the Windsor community in the play negotiates language change; second, the example of Mistress Quickly's resourceful meaning-making in the extended miscomprehension sequence of the Latin lesson; third, an account of how the interaction of orality and literacy in Shakespeare's day shaped language use and word coinage; and, fourth, Shakespeare's interest in language change associated with miscomprehension sequences across media, or ‘speaking in print’.

Keywords: language games, Merry Wives, miscomprehension sequences, language change, Shakespeare

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