The Merry Wives of Windsor
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault:
she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.
So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise. (3.5.33-35)
Okay. We've seen how Shakespeare mocks foreigners in this play by making them "hack" the English language to bits with their "funny" accents and their tendency to use the wrong words when they talk. But the play is also full of English characters that have some language issues. Here, Mistress Quickly is trying to say that the servants mistook their "directions" from Mistress Page but she ends up cracking a dirty joke without realizing what she's done. Whoops. Of course, Falstaff can't resist cracking a dirty joke of his own when he says "So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise." (Translation: Falstaff regrets being sexually aroused by Mistress Page's promise to have an affair with him.) By the way, it's pretty obvious that Falstaff is the character with the best command of the English language in this play. So maybe he really is the protagonist, after all.
You do ill to teach the child such words: he teaches him to hick and to hack, which they'll do fast enough of themselves, and to call "whorum." Fie upon you! (4.1.54-56)
We've already seen how Mistress Quickly tends to talk dirty unintentionally. Here, we see that she also has a habit of mishearing filthy words in other peoples' language. When Evans gives little William a Latin grammar lesson, Mistress Quickly misunderstands the entire event and accuses Evans of teaching Willy a bunch of dirty words while encouraging him to "hick and hack" and call "whorum" (drink and have sex). But what little Willy is actually learning is pretty basic Latin pronouns: "hic" and "haec" for "this" and "that," and "horum" meaning "of these" or "of this." Not too dirty.
I will never mistrust my wife again until thou art able to woo her in good English (5.5.128-129)
Translation: the day Evans will be able to seduce his wife with "good English" is the day when pigs fly. I.e., never.