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’.
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