October 7, 2015

Why stop with Shakespeare?

The American Association for the Advancement of Learning has decided that the mathematical language of physics is too difficult for today's students to understand.  In order to attract more students to science majors, the Association recently announced that, over the next three years, it will commission 36 physicists to translate all of basic physics into plain English, so as to make the discipline accessible to the widest possible audience.
     A typical example of proposed translations considered by the Association is the differential equation known as Newton's Second Law of Motion
translated as
If you push harder, the damn thing will move faster.

The above announcement would be easy to dismiss as yet another absurd and unfunny mental burp of Boom's deranged mind if it weren't for this very real news item in today's New York Times:

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has decided that Shakespeare’s language is too difficult for today’s audiences to understand. It recently announced that over the next three years, it will commission 36 playwrights to translate all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English.  ...  Other venues, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the University of Utah and Orlando Shakespeare Theater, have already signed on to produce some of these translations.  (James Shapiro, "Shakespeare in Modern English?", The New York Times, October 7, 2015.)

Since 'modern English' beloved by 'today's audiences' is rapidly becoming Twitterglish, I expect the announced translations, when published, to look something like this:

How is my fantasy about translating physics into 'accessible English' more absurd than this reality?


Jon said...

"A Facelift for Shakespeare" at http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-facelift-for-shakespeare-1443194924 may be worth reading.

Dave MacD said...

This has probably been done, but I'm too lazy to google it. The modern translations should be tweeted from a network of Twitter accounts in real time.

laybl said...

'scuse me, you bloody, rotting corpse, that I'm too chicken to get tough with the guys who killed you...

Living or dead, wotthehell...Am I a better person if I take this shitty life, or pop a couple pills to end it all?

O Romeo, Romeo, why couldn't you change your name? Izzy sounds nice...

Who the hell is Hecuba? What's that hambone gettin' so worked up about? She ain't even real!