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Evie

Wherefore art thou allowed to get away with it?

I have just been reading an item about an online game on the Shakespeare Country tourist website that has attracted 22 million players.  The site is run by my county council, so I took an interest...but was also attracted by the game's name.

The game is called Romeo, Wherefore art thou?  and you have to guide Romeo to find flowers for Juliet.

Clearly my council thinks 'wherefore' means 'where'...it's quite sad.  Even in the BBC item I read, no one questioned it.  I hope I might have misunderstood the purpose of the game, and it really is based on the correct meaning, but it doesn't look like it from a vague attempt to play the game myself.

Sorry, not much to do with anything, but needed an outlet for my frustration!  Use Shakespeare as a tourist attraction, but let's not bother to worry about what he actually wrote...
TheRejectAmidHair

Re: Wherefore art thou allowed to get away with it?

Evie wrote:
Clearly my council thinks 'wherefore' means 'where'...


Well, you must remember that language is a fluid thing. It’s always changing and evolving. That’s the beauty of it. It’s not frozen in ice. It’s nor carved in stone. (Or should that be “curved in stone”? Who cares!) That’s the delight of language. Let’s not be pedantic. It’s bad being a pedant. Let’s delight in language. Being pedantic is bad. Let’s play with it. Let’s find new meanings in words. Let’s not be stuffy about it. Stuffy. You don’t want to be stuffy. Let’s … blah blah blah…. You’re stuffy. I’m not. I’m pretty cool in fact. … blah blah blah … [continued ad nauseam]
Evie

You're right, Himadri.  What was I thinking.  Or why was I thinking.  Or where was I thinking.  The whys and wherefores are unimportant, silly me!  Wink
county_lady

Rolling Eyes Hi Evie and Himadri, and thanks for the laugh.
But I wasn't tempted by the game.
Caro

I suppose I shouldn't take this seriously, but language does change and words do lose their earlier meanings or just get lost.  Which is more or less what has happened to 'wherefore'.  Apart from in 'whys and wherefores' it really is only needed in present-day life to understand Shakespeare.  If SS wasn't still read in the original no one would in the least expect non-linguists to know the meaning of many of his words - they would be treated as part of a foreign language as Chaucer is.

In general we don't expect people to know the precise meaning of 16th century words.  "Nice" for instance is a word which has changed so much over the years that knowing just which meaning it has in earlier writings needs context.  I heard the other day that in Shakespeare's day it had 16 meanings which was possibly the reason he used it so little.

Aside from that it is quite possible that the council did know and were just punning on the 'where' part of it.  It fitted what they wanted to do, so they used it.  

Cheers, Caro.
Evie

I am quite serious in my annoyance - this is  specifically using the quotation from Shakespeare as the name of a game about Romeo and Juliet, and I am cynical enough to think it is just ignorance on the part of the person who devised the game.  It is such a basic error, being such a famous quotation, that I see no justification for it, I'm afraid!
TheRejectAmidHair

Hello Caro, Yes, I do agree that language changes, and that it has changed significantly since Shakespeare’s time. When Othello tells Desdemona that he will kill her “presently”, he means “immediately”, not “in a while” And no, I wouldn’t expect most people to know that. However, my heavy-handed satire above was aimed not at those who are unaware of the intricacies of Shakespearean language, but at those who seem to think that the fact of language changing is an excuse for ignorance and sloppiness.

To take my example, if I really were to say “curved in stone” rather than “carved in stone”, you may be charitable enough to think that I’d made a careless error; or you may be less charitable, and think I was ignorant, and didn’t know the difference. But if I were to say that “curved in stone” is perfectly correct because, don’t you know, language is changing, then I do feel you’d be quite justified in thinking I was of order.

The bottom line seems to me to be that language is primarily for communication, and that for communication to be effective, we must have at least some measure of common understanding of what words and phrases mean. If I were to insist that “curved” and “carved” are essentially the same thing, then we no longer have a common understanding on what those words actually mean. Language changes, yes – but I don’t really see why that should excuse ignorance and sloppiness.

On the question of “wherefore”, I really would expect any educated person to know that meant “why” rather than “where”. I’m sure you do, for a start! – especially as your own English, as evidenced by your posts on this board, bespeak education and scrupulousness. If you and I can use English correctly (well – most of the time in my case! Very Happy ), why should we not expect it from others?
Caro

I only know it, though, because it is used in that one phrase in Shakespeare.  I can remember not knowing it and realising at some stage that it didn't mean 'where'.  I wasn't that young and I was an English student.  (Didn't study Romeo and Juliet at school, though, so it had never come up for me before that.)

I doubt that most people I know would realise it means 'why' or 'for what reason'.  I do have a degree in English, not everyone does.  I am sure a person with a scientific background would be amazed at my ignorance in that area and wonder how anyone could not know the basics of what they do.  

Sloppiness is not necessary, but I have heard enough idiots (NZ idiots, not overseas ones) talk of the New Zealand accent as 'lazy speech' to be a little impatient at people who set themselves up as authorities on language when they really have no idea what they are talking about.  it irritates me quite a lot, but I do believe attitudes are changing a little about this.  People still moan about our accent but at least they seem to be realising it is nothing to do with either laziness or carefulness - speech patterns are mostly copied.

This is somewhat off the topic, sorry.  

Cheers, Caro.
Evie

Yes - but that's why it annoys me that one place where it should be used correctly has perpetuated the wrong meaning - I am less concerned about the word itself than that it promotes the incorrect understanding of Shakespeare's play.  It is fundamental to one of the themes of the play, after all, and Stratford council should care about making Shakespeare better understood, not making him more obscure.  22 million people playing the game will be encouraged to take the wrong meaning, and the play won't make sense!  angry3

End of grouch.
county_lady

Evie I share your irritation that the quotation can be used in such an incorrect way but am also quite sure that the person(s) involved in setting up the website didn't realise that or perhaps worse did but thought it didn't matter.
Evie

Have you tried the game, county lady?  I should find the link.  It's not exactly Super Mario, but it is strangely addictive...but then I have an addictive personality!
Evie

Here is the link to the game, in case anyone wants to have a go!

http://www.shakespearegame.com/
county_lady

Evie I'm avoiding it, I have already got many time wasting addictions. Embarassed
Apple

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
I am quite serious in my annoyance - this is  specifically using the quotation from Shakespeare as the name of a game about Romeo and Juliet, and I am cynical enough to think it is just ignorance on the part of the person who devised the game.  It is such a basic error, being such a famous quotation, that I see no justification for it, I'm afraid!


Or you could have totally the wrong end of the stick and it could be just a play on words, for the "fun" of it!!

I really can't see what you are getting uptight about, its an online game for gods sake just a bit of fun so what if they are using a word wrong and not in the correct context.
Evie

Depends what you think is important, I suppose - it's not just about a game.  We all have different priorities, Apple - no need to have a go, just say you don't think there's a problem, without yelling.
Apple

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
no need to have a go, just say you don't think there's a problem, without yelling.

Eh? I don't get that? what are you on about now? Confused Can you explain please what you are trying to say!?

Firstly I wasn't having a go if I was you would know about it!! Smile  Secondly what do you mean by yelling I don't get that comment at all I was always under the impression that to yell or shout in written context you wrote in capitals for example HELLO!! and forgive me but apart from my example which I have just posted I ain't wrote anything in capitals! Finally I was just saying I don't think there's a problem, that was the whole point I was making!

Just for the record it is now clear I have edited my original post and so there is no misunderstanding I have not added/removed anything I originally wrote, I only corrected a spelling mistake I noticed.
TheRejectAmidHair

Hello Apple, I think the point is - and I agree with it fully - that this online game, although it's no more than merely a bit of fun, is nonetheless an attempt to encourage interest in Shakespeare.

Language is used badly and ignorantly all over the place. I don't think there's any excuse for it: we all have had the privilege of an education, paid for by the taxpayer. Those of us who care about it (and many of us do) often find ourselves gritting our teeth about the various misuses of the English language. It is reasonable, I feel, to expect at least some respect for the English language when one is trying to attract interest in the greatest practitioner of that language. To object to sloppy use of English is not, I think, being "uptight": one is surely entitled to object to the misuse of something about which one cares greatly.
Evie

Apple, if I received your post wrongly, I'm sorry - it's not always easy to judge a tone of voice on a messageboard.  To say 'I don't know what you are getting uptight about' sounded a bit personally aggressive, as did 'for gods sake', which I would only use and expect to hear when someone is pretty annoyed.  And your sentence just runs in one phrase without punctuation, which also made it seem a bit 'in yer face' as my nephews would say.

As well as the point Himadri makes, my reason for being 'uptight' is also specifically to do with Shakespeare - if the town that is so proud of being his birthplace can't even get one of the most famous quotations in all of Shakespeare right, I find that unacceptable.

As I say, what's important to me may not be important to you, but the force of how your post came across stung a bit.  I'm sorry, it was a misunderstanding, based on the fact that you and I have different ideas about language (though also I didn't see why you needed to make it personal), and I apologise for my part in misreading the tone of what you wrote.
Apple

Himadri - Aah I see well thats fair enough then. You know more about the English language than I do.  Smile and yes I suppose if you carely so deeply about the English language as you and Evie obviously do it is going to pee you off when mistakes are made and things are not done quite in the totally correct way, but using a word either in ignorance, wrongly or as a play on words for the sake of a bit of a laugh isn't going to have any dire consequences, no-one will die as a result of it! So you do really have to ask yourself with everything else thats wrong with the country, and the world for that matter the misuse of a few words either in ignorance or on purpose isn't really that important. I'm not saying you shouldn't be irritated by it or mention it in passing as a topic of interest but accept that in the big scheme of things its a bit petty to to have a full blown rant about it.

But having said all that - that does not answer the question I have asked in response to Evie's rather confusing comment and I would like her to clarify what she meant please as I don't understand what she is saying I have done.
Apple

You posted while I was typing! Smile

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
Apple, if I received your post wrongly, I'm sorry - it's not always easy to judge a tone of voice on a messageboard.  To say 'I don't know what you are getting uptight about' sounded a bit personally aggressive, as did 'for gods sake', which I would only use and expect to hear when someone is pretty annoyed.  And your sentence just runs in one phrase without punctuation, which also made it seem a bit 'in yer face' as my nephews would say.

As well as the point Himadri makes, my reason for being 'uptight' is also specifically to do with Shakespeare - if the town that is so proud of being his birthplace can't even get one of the most famous quotations in all of Shakespeare right, I find that unacceptable.

As I say, what's important to me may not be important to you, but the force of how your post came across stung a bit.  I'm sorry, it was a misunderstanding, based on the fact that you and I have different ideas about language (though also I didn't see why you needed to make it personal), and I apologise for my part in misreading the tone of what you wrote.


What can I say - thats me! thats the way I talk its not personal and never is I write the way I think and the way I talk straight to the point no messing -  and I have explained this before to you when you have taken offence at something I have written! I use for gods sake in normal speech like bloody and other mannerisms which come into my posts like the overuse of exclamation marks  As for the punctuation this has also been commented on before on the old board, (when we did the christmas shorts the first year, I think it was Dai who commented on it) my idea of punctuation is a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end because I wasn't taught any better and for that I apologise, I do try and remember commas now and again but not always.
Castorboy

The use of a word in print is leading to destruction and death in Malaya as we post. The Moslems are demanding that newspapers do not use the term Allah to descibe a god as that word is the preseve of the Moslem world.
Obviously things are not as extreme as that in the UK at the moment but the use of the correct word in official publications or promotions is important. If a famous quotation is used out of context, for instance, it is easy enough to indicate that meaning. In Stratford the council could have called the game WHEREfore art thou, then everyone would have known it was a play on words. Or in this case also a play online Laughing
Evie

Yes, I still think it's just ignorance, otherwise they would have made it more obvious that they were distorting the meaning.

And I would like to say that I don't mean to criticise your punctuation, Apple, only that it added to the sense I already had of misreading the tone of your post!  I do swear in everyday life, though only when provoked or very steamed up or in a jokey way in particular company, but I wouldn't on a messageboard unless pretty angry, and I just took it the wrong way here.  (I know you don't think 'bloody' or 'for God's sake' are swearing, but I do!)

Anyway, thanks for taking the trouble to sort it out.  I had added a bit to one of my previous posts about my needing to get out more and then deleted it - perhaps that would have made me seem a bit less 'uptight' about the whole thing!
Hector

I'm not overly fussed about the misuse of 'wherefore' to be honest. I'm sure the makers knew the context wasn't correct but it's not a bad play on words for a game where the whole purpose is for Romeo to collect flowers to bring to Juliet. I suppose they could have called it "Romeo's quest to bring flowers to Juliet" but that is just terrible.

Having played the game (well, a couple of levels), you could argue that at no point in the play does Romeo jump on the heads of wild boars or skeletons whilst collecting manuscripts. It doesn't matter. It's just a bit of fun with plenty of links to the 'serious' Stratford pages. If it was misued there then I think I would have a more of a problem.
TheRejectAmidHair

Well, I am not one for games at all. Except for this one, which is great:

http://britishhorrorfilms.co.uk/keepyuppy.shtml
Evie

The game is quite fun - I can't get past level 2, the last part of that always gets me, but I will keep trying!

I admit to being a bit of a pedant where misuse of words is concerned, and particularly when great literature is involved.  I don't like it when no one seems to care!  But Shakespeare will survive, I am sure.   Wink

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