Edited by Dirk Delabastita and Ton Hoenselaars
[Benjamins Current Topics 73] 2015
► pp. 61–90
‘Fause Frenche Enough’
Kate’s French in Shakespeare’s Henry V
The English language lesson scene in Shakespeare’s Henry V has attracted more critical attention for its sexual innuendoes than for its political significance even though King Henry was historically instrumental in the demise of French in medieval England. Closely modeled on early modern primers, the language lesson is a stage metaphor of the king’s language policy, and settles old ideological scores by canceling the effects of the Norman Conquest. Traces of insular French in Kate’s morphosyntactic idiosyncrasies serve the political agenda of a play chronicling the process that took the French tongue from authority to disempowerment.