This page pulls together a bunch of Shakespeare translator resources from across the web to help you translate Shakespeare into modern English, and in some cases modern English to Shakespearean-style language.
Shakespeare wrote in early modern English, which means many of his words have evolved in their meaning over the last 400 years. At times this makes it difficult to fully understand his works…which is where sites like NoSweatShakespeare, and other Shakespeare translation sites come in. The resources below should help you understand Shakespeare at a much more granular level. If you’re aware of any other good translation tools, please do let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page!
Shakespeare’s Words Translated:
- Shakespeare dictionary – find all of Shakespeare’s tricky words with an explanation in modern, simple English.
- Old EnglishTranslation allows you to translate words from old English (defined here as spoken between the 5th and 12th century in what is now England and Southern Scotland) to modern English, and vice versa. A straight-up English translator, highly recommended.
- ShakespeareWords.com is the online version of the well-known language companion, allowing you to search for any word or phrase in Shakespeare’s works to get its modern-day meaning, in their glossary.
Shakespeare’s Sentences and Phrases Translated:
- One of the few modern English to Shakespeare translators is LingoJam – type in your English and get fun translations into Shakespeare’s language.
- SpeakShakespeare claims to be a Shakespeare translator but the jury’s out as we’ve been unable to get any decent results from it.
Shakespearean English Translation Software:
- Want to translate Shakespeare on the go? This nifty app available from itunes is a Shakespeare translator for your iphone.
- Download Babylon Translation, a Shakespeare translator software that translates Shakespeare to English, but multiple languages.
And of course we have a whole lot of Shakespeare translation resources right here on NoSweatShakespeare!
- All about Shakespearean insults
Why was the English language so creative in Shakespeare’s time?
Shakespeare’s era was after old English and firmly in early modern English. Around this time there was a huge inflow of other European vocabularies into the English language as a result of Renaissance cross-pollination. This created new variations for English words, and allowed endless possibilities for Shakespeare.
In Love’s Labours Lost he is able to exploit multiple meanings of one word to create a sentence like ‘Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile.’ – ‘intellect,’ ‘wisdom,’ ‘eyesight’ and ‘daylight’. (It’s worth checking out this article on Shakespeare original pronunciation to understand the ways in which Shakespeare used pronunciation as well as the words themselves to get his characters’ meaning across.)
If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: If you pardon, we will mend: And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue, We will make amends ere long; Else the Puck a liar call; So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.
If she cannot entreat, I can compel.
When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.
That will be ere the set of sun.
Where the place?
Upon the heath.
There to meet with Macbeth.
I come, Graymalkin.
Fair is foul, and foul is fair.
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
o deadly sin! o rude unthankfulness
Why, man, he doth bestride the nerrow world like a colossus, and we petty about to find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Pray, giveth me tidings of thy mother.
such smiling rougues as these like rats oft bite the holy cords attwain which are to intruse t’unloose smooth every passion
Thou beggarly flap-mouthed bag of guts
No beauty across the land compares to the one at your right hand.
“Two faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel will amend. For give the dry Fool drink, then is the Fool not dry. Bid the dishonest man mend himself; if he mend, he is no longer dishonest; if he cannot, let the botcher mend him. Anything that’s mended is but patched; virtue that transgresses is but patched with sin, and sin that amends is but patched with virtue. If that this simple syllogism will serve, so; if it will not, what remedy? As there is no true cuckold but calamity, so beauty’s a flower. The Lady bade take away the Fool. Therefore, I say again, take her away.”
Twelfth Night: Act 1, Scene 5