Much of what’s posted here – to TMCnet’s Education Technology vertical Web site – revolves around how institutions are leveraging new technologies to boost students’ math and reading scores, streamline communications and deploy faster emergency response services.
We’ve written articles about video games that complement middle school math programs, Web-based data management in high schools and lecture streaming at universities.
All valuable material, and appropriate for the site.
But what could be more instructive than a technology that delivers the works of the playwright who – along with the translators of the King James Bible – invented modern English?
Enter Readdle.com’s “Shakespeare” application (stage left) for the iPhone (News - Alert) and iPod Touch.
Before we get into the application, a few words on William Shakespeare. Widely regarded as the greatest writer in English, the poet still wouldn't have carved out his right to appear on an education site had his influence not been so great. With a background in Greek and Latin that at least one contemporary dismissed, and a smattering of European languages, Shakespeare – literally – created the language we use.
Though pronounced differently – far differently, in some cases, even from modern British English – Shakespeare’s influence on the language we speak and write is immeasurable. The poet used 17,677 words in his works, and invented about 1,700 of them, including 'accommodation,' 'control,' 'critic,' 'dishearten,' 'hurry,' 'lapse,' 'pious,' 'road' and 'suspicious.'
The great novelist Charles Dickens drew 25 of his titles from Shakespeare’s works, and scholars have identified 20,000 pieces of music linked to them, including two operas by Giuseppe Verdi, “Otello” and “Falstaff.”
And it was Shakespeare – not Led Zeppelin – who first said “all that glitters isn’t gold.” Other originally Shakespearean phrases include “break the ice,” “catch a cold,” “fancy-free,” "a foregone conclusion," “hot-blooded,” “lackluster,” “naked truth,” “one fell swoop," "wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve" and "with bated breath."
Now, to the free application.
Compiled using PlayShakespeare.com’s free library, it includes the full text from 40 plays, the Bard’s six poems and 154 sonnets, a searchable concordance, a text resizing option, historic art for each work and an optional landscape view.
Like most of us, even in this information age, I prefer to read Shakespeare in book form – and not one of those thick, single volumes printed in 6-point font on tissue paper and cost $199 in eye exams afterwards. A new set of Shakespeare’s plays in separate books routinely costs upwards of $300.
As an amateur philologist and rabid anglophile, I own those volumes – but I don’t take them with me to work, when I travel or anywhere, really, beyond the living room.
The iPhone and iPod Touch are another story, so let’s get into the application itself.
First off, the application’s offering of six different font sizes is a major plus – the largest size, particularly in landscape view, is as large as any printed volume.
After selecting a play, the user comes to a menu – just as a table of contents in a volume of Shakespeare’s work – to go to either a listing of the characters (dramatis personae), or a specific act. Once inside the play, a user may scroll to the next act by selecting a forward arrow on the touchscreen.
Looking for a particular quote? Users can go to a search option to find words within particular plays, such as finding the word ‘free’ in “All’s Well That Ends Well,” shown below.
For those of us concerned with education, it’s nice to know that this application is out there. I just used the search tool to find an appropriate quote to end this article – one of my favorites – from Act V of “Julius Caesar”:
For ever, and for ever, farewell, Brutus!
If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed;
If not, ‘tis true this parting was well made.
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan