What’s a Gig?

Author: Patricia Lezynski

Whip thy Gig.

Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost has been translated into numerous versions because of its unique dialogue but making it open for interpretation. In the Verse translation Pedant says the line: “Thou disputest like an infant: go whip thy Gig” (1403). Pedant is mocking Page for arguing like a child as he calls him an infant. His immature actions give Pedant the opportunity to make fun of him. Referring to his childlike behavior, Pedant also remarks that Page should go play with a gig. At first glance, I assumed gig was a horse because that is one of its many definitions. When I looked up “whirligig” in the Oxford English Dictionary, it gave the definition that it can also mean a “a toy consisting of a small spindle turned by means of a string.”

Most of the different Shakespeare versions use the line “go whip thy Gig” because it is precise and there is no other accurate description than this. In the late 1700s, gig also became known as a horse or horse carriage and that definition has stuck with that word to today. Gig being referred to as a spinning top is an earlier definition dating back to before this play was written hence why Shakespeare used it. I believe Shakespeare choose to use this term instead of saying a spinning top in order to captivate the reader’s attention. It still does to this day because we do not see the word gig used in this context very often.

God’s Grace

Author: Joseph Wozniak

The translation of Shakespeare’s writing is interpreted in multiple ways. The same play can read differently, and the reader translate how they want. In the first translation I read from the verse library from Villanova was “God give him grace to groan.” (Shakespeare 1007). This first translation as seen as Berowne is saying oh here comes another to professor their forbidden love please God gave some type of grace so that he can moan or groan about it later. I see it as a sympathetic interpretation and a lot different from the other translation of Love Labor’s Lost Shakespeare world’s article.

In Shakespeare’s world translation his quote is stated “God give him grace to groan!”. This interpretation is with an exclamation point at the end of the quote rather than a period. It emphasizes that God please just give him grace don’t let him moan or groan about it just let him get on with the issue and not regret. It has a similar interpretation, but the punctuation is where it changes because it can either mean get on with the issue and almost annoyed how the King has to say his love after Berowne. Or it can me God I swear if you don’t give him grace for being compassionate, I am going to be upset.

The last translation I read was from oxford scholarly edition. The last translation was similar to rest besides the spelling “God giue him grace to grone.” Why is this translation spelled differently? Was it translated during an early time period? This question arises because you read the same text to compare and wonder the difference. The time period where this was read must have been close to Shakespeare’s time where that language stilled existed. It has the same meaning as the first translation, but it still gives us a new way of reading into this translation of Love Labor’s Lost.


Alternate Meaning for the Word Jew

Author: Amanda Pokoj

Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost, has been translated into numerous versions that include a variation in word use. The line, “My sweet ounce of man’s flesh, my incony Jew! Now will I look to his remuneration” (Shakespeare 3.4.115) contrasts through different versions of the play. In the New Oxford Shakespeare Edition (Modern Spelling) and the Villanova Emends & Reads Shakespeare Edition, the words, “Jew” and “Jewel,” are interchanged in this line. The word, “Jew,” can been used to describe a person of Hebrew descent, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. In today’s society, due to historical reasons and distasteful humor, the phrase has become seemingly offensive to those of Hebrew lineage. The majority of these vulgar jokes are fueled by dishonest associations that have accumulated over long periods of anti-Semitism. The stigma of the phrase has led our society to deem the term, “Jewish,” as a safer, more respectable term to define someone of Hebrew descent.


However, Shakespeare’s use of the term, “Jew”, in his play, Love’s Labor’s Lost,apparently denotes a positive connotation. In both versions, the terms “Jew” and “Jewel” precede the term, “incony”, defined as “rare, fine, delicate, pretty” (OED). The line following the term, “Now I will look to his remuneration,” once again signifies a positive connotation of the phrase, “Jew,” with the mention of a reward. Using these context clues within the text, we can determine that the phrase was viewed as a complimentary term during the author’s time, rather than an offensive slang word for someone of Jewish descent. Additionally, we can conclude that the term is used in a positive light by defining the word, “Jewel,” which is used in place of it in another version. Today, when we think of the word “Jewel,” we think of a highly valued gem. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Jewel” as “an article of value used for adornment, chiefly of the person,” or “a precious stone,” further proving “Jew’s” endearing connotation in this line.


Before and during Shakespeare’s time, the term “Jew” was also used in a phrase, “Jew’s eye,” meaning a “proverbial expression for something valued highly” (OED). As Shakespeare used this phrase in other works, such as Merchant of Venice, it is possible that this is the meaning of “Jew” that he meant to offer in this line from Love’s Labor’s Lost. As he follows the word “Jew,” with a line that highlights the worthiness of a remuneration, this suggests that the “Jew” in this line is someone valued highly for their actions and deserving of a reward. Today, we associate the word, “Jewel,” with a highly prized treasure of great worth, which explains the reasoning behind the two terms being interchangeable in this line of the play. By closely dissecting this line, it is evident that Shakespeare’s intent was to describe someone highly valued for their actions and worthy of a reward.

Shakespeare Interpretations: One Word, Many Different Meaning

Author: Taniya Gray

There are many variations of Line 2035 “your lion, that holds his poleaxe sitting on a close-stool” of the Shakespeare’s play Love Labour’s Lost. Within the Malone’s translation, the word ‘poleaxe’ is ‘poll-ax’ (pg. 169), Oxford’s Critical Reference Edition is ‘polax’, Oxford’s Modern Critical Edition is “poleaxe’, Shakespeare’s words Original Text is ‘pollax’, and Shakespeare’s words Modern Text is ‘pole-axe’. These variations all have different meanings and different emphasis on certain ideas, so I will be explaining that.
The word ‘Poleaxe’ means the weapon used in close combat, and the variations ‘polax’, ‘pollax’, and ‘poll-ax’ are very similar in this meaning. There is an emphasis on the etymon Poll, which means “The top of the head, the crown, the vertex” and it is mainly used in references to animals. I found this interesting because the animal referenced in the play is a lion, and lions are seen as a sign of strength and leadership. Within the context of the play, Costard states this line after Alexander (played by Nathaniel) is overthrown, and I saw this as a transition of leadership from the noble (Nathaniel), to the common person (Costard). Also, as stated on the Oxford Dictionary website, these forms were mainly used in the United States in the 20th century, which has a more modern and practical approach to leadership.
The ‘poleaxe’ and ‘pole-axe’ variation have a slightly different meaning than their counterparts listed above. There is an emphasis on the etymons pole, “a stake, stave, or stick, regardless of length or thickness”, and axe, “A tool or instrument for hewing, cleaving, or chopping, trees, wood, ice, etc.”. I found these definitions to be more straight forward which leads to less interpretation of the actual meaning. But, also on the website it is states that “it is unclear whether the compound originally denoted an axe with a special kind of head, or one for cutting off or splitting the head of an enemy.” This is interesting because the weapon ‘poleaxe’ was used specifically between enemies, which gives Costard and Nathaniel’s relationship a little bit more depth. This spelling of the word is mainly used in older English texts (17th century), which can explain the enemy aspect of the meaning because everything was so divided during this time period.

The Significance of Love

Author: Michael Reilly

In Love Labour’s Lost, lines 1113-1251, a central piece to understand is the importance of love in the characters’ lives. While they make a pact to swear off the pursuit of love, the need for love in their love is revealed over the course of the play, in both translations, especially through the words of Berowne. In lines 1140-1162, the hardship and suffering of Berowne’s need for love is shown through the exposure of his letter. In both translations of the play, there is great significance in lines 1140-1162 concerning Berowne’s love that lies within him. It is important to know that Berowne’s letter professing his love is revealed to the King, and as a result he rages about the purpose that love gives him in his life. While Berowne is the single character that deeply explains the importance of love that is pivotal to the theme of the play, other characters, such as the King, also feel similarly, as shown later in the play.

In the verse text and The New Penguin edition, there are not many distinct differences in the words of Berowne’s outburst. Further, the differences that are present in both texts contribute to the overall message that this passage is to represent. Both emphasize the that without love, Berowne feels pain and emptiness in his life. Berowne, in both translations, criticizes the King for transforming into a “gnat.” While gnat is defined as a ”bug”, it is also seen as a person of little significance (Oxford English Dictionary). He then mentions other people, such as Hercules, Solomon, Nestor, and Timon, as characters performing joyous actions, thus differing from the Kings life of unhappiness because of his hidden love. Also, in the verse translation it writes “You found his Mote, the King your Mote did see” and the other says “You found his Moth, the King your Moth did see” (Oxford English Dictionary). A moth is defined as “an insect or maggot”, while a mote is “a particle of dust” (Oxford English Dictionary). The importance of these two translations is that they are mainly synonymous. A large part of Berowne’s rant is attacking the King for being a coward by not revealing the love that he possesses, but instead being a hypocrite in reprimanding Berowne. Berowne stresses that the King should be respected less, as shown through the little significance that bugs and particles of dust hold.

You’re a Fool if You Read This

Author: Toni-Lyn Turner

Upon reading this without context, it seems as thought the character speaking is being insulting towards others. The word fool can have a negative connotation to it. However, for centuries, and still today, the word fool has more of a playful and humorous tone. Such is the case with this lemma from the text. When Rosaline calls the men fools, she’s referring to how foolish they were to believe that they could trick the Queen and her ladies by wearing masks.

Notice that before indirectly calling the men fools, Rosaline says that she wouldn’t dare call them fools. This is probably because she understood that her comment could have been taken the wrong way. By adding that she doesn’t wish to call them fools, she takes away the negative tone from the word. There is irony however in her statement. She says she doesn’t want to call them fools but does it anyway, just not in a forward manner.

This lemma doesn’t have some underlying or hidden meaning. The character means exactly what she says. She does however do this with the intent of letting the men know the ladies were not amused by their disguises and to make mockery of them as well. The subtle way she does it stresses the different meanings the word fool can have. It also serves to make the men think of what they’ve done.

What is sowla?

Author: Atira Meade

“Sowla, sowla” is a term that is now obsolete, and used to be a cry or call for attention according to Oxford English Dictionary. (910) The inclusion of this word is included in all versions, with a slight spelling variation, sowla and sola.The dismal of the “w” is just a reflection of language changing over history, such as when “u” translates to “v”, in the title Loue’s Labour’s Lost or when the characters have slightly different spelled names such as the Princess being the Queen or Costard being shortened to Clo., which is short for clown: Costard the Clown.  

Sowla can be roughly translated to “hey there” or “yo”. It is sort of like a greeting simply meaning to get someone’s attention. This cry is only found written by Shakespeare in Love’s Labour Lost. It is found at the end of Act 5 (in VERSE) after Costard describes Berowne as a simple fellow and  one that caring and loves hard. After shouting and saying sowla Costard exits the stage running. So, if you ever want to get someone’s attention do not say excuse me, or hey you, or yo, just simply say “sowla” with confidence!


Subscribe to twitter or subscribe your name

Author: Emma Blaustein

In our age of technology, many people associate the word subscribe to signing up for something in order to receive notifications or alerts. However, the term “subscribe” used within Love’s Labour’s Lost is used in a different way. The more traditional meaning of subscribe would be to sign one’s name, consenting or agreeing to something (OED). This fits in the context of the line in Love’s Labour’s Lost where the men are writing, or subscribing, their names to agree to the contract. The way the term subscribe is used today is a more modernized, adapted version of how it was used in Love’s Labour’s Lost. 

In both cases, the term is being used to sign up to something. However, in the modern times, most people identify this as a technological subscription whereas in the past the term would be viewed as a literal signature agreeing upon the given terms. Subscribe is also viewed upon as a more formalized way of agreeing to something where you would typically provide a signature. Within the play, the scene in which subscribe is used is during a formal agreement by the men to abide by the contract they were presented with. The play’s setting is during a time period in which society was much more formalized than it is nowadays. The term subscribe emphasized the formality of the men signing the contract. 

The word subscribe, along with many other words within Love’s Labour’s Lost, have developed and changed in meaning over the years. Where subscribe was used as a more formal term implying an actual signature on a document back when Love’s Labour’s Lost was written has now adapted to a more informal, way of “signing up” for something. 

What is a Dishclout and a Favour?

Author: Cole Ritota

A dishclout, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “A ‘clout’ or cloth used for washing dishes,” (OED). Despite the difference in spelling in other versions of the text, such as dish-cloute found in Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, the meaning of the word remains the same. It is important to keep in mind that in 1598, when Shakespeare wrote this play, a dish cloth was not something thought as being a clean object by any means. It was most likely just an old, dirty rag that was used for cleaning.

Favour is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, “Something given as a mark of favour; esp. a gift such as a a knot of ribbons… or in medieval chivalry by a lady to her knight, to be worn conspicuously as a token of affection,” (OED). Similarly to dishclout, favour is also spelled differently in the Oxford Scholarly Editions Online and the Shakespeare’s Word’s translation. In both cases, favour is spelled fauour, and appears to just be a different way of spelling the word and the meaning remains the same. A favour could really be anything

In the play, Boyet is referencing Braggart as the individual wearing the dishclout from Jaquenetta. Shakespeare intended this to be a humorous line in the play by using these two contrasting words that don’t exactly fit together. Braggart is a knight, so it would be fitting for his lady, Jaquenetta to give him a favour. However, a dishclout is not a typical favour a lady would give to a knight. This can be seen as an insult to Braggart in that he is not what would be thought of as a usual handsome and respected knight, and he is not worthy of a precious favour from his lady. It can also be interpreted as an insult towards Jaquenetta saying that she does not have the means capable to offer a more precious favour to her knight. Either way, Shakespeares play on words here was intended to create a comedic part in the play.

Difference Creating Meaning

Author: Rylie Edwards

In the beginning of the lines Rosaline and Katherine discuss Berowne and Dumain. They share their opinions on the two men and their feelings towards them. Meanwhile the Princess is hesitant about her feelings towards the King and does not want to give him the letter from her father. The King tries to charm her and the ladies when entering. Boyet then proclaims to the princess that the King wants the women to camp in the field. In the Verse text he describes it as “To let you enter his unpeeled house” (line 451). The word unpeeled means “stripped of” or “closed off.” Boyet describes how the King wants them to go to the field almost as if it’s a battle. The diction is harsh as if the King has alternative intentions. When using “unpeeled” one can interpret that the land the King asks them to go to is stripped of authenticity. It also means closed off to everyone. The palace cannot be entered by anyone because of the contract.
In a modern version of Love’s Labor’s Lost, it states “his unpeopled house.” The difference of spelling between unpeeled and unpeopled creates similar, but different meanings. As stated previously the original text’s meaning is “stripped of.” The definition of unpeopled would be “without devoid or lacking retinue.” The modern text gives a clearer explanation of why the women must go to the land. The King will not break his oath for the women. He is making them meet in the land outside of the court, where it is “unpeopled” or without servants. The modern text allows the audience to observe the King’s loyalty to the oath. However, the modern translation is incorrect by saying “unpeopled.” This is because Shakespeare did not mean that the land is vacant, it is that nobody is allowed in there.
In the Oxford Scholarly Edition, the original and modern texts are the same spellings as in the previous text. The only prominent differences between the modern and original text are different spellings. This, however, can stray the audience away from the author’s initial meaning of the words. Both meanings create different interpretations of the text. The unpeeled and unpeopled example helps emphasize the King’s true personality. His controversial disobedience to the contract and his strange request of the meeting in the field shows his character. One must focus on the original text’s meaning because the modern text is incorrect with it’s translation of the word, “unpeeled.”