Of his bones are coral made = His bones are made of coral;

Discussion in 'English Only' started by nkaper, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. nkaper

    nkaper Senior Member

    The Tempest: Act 1, Scene 2

    (the 1st and 3rd line are original, 2 and 4 from a plain version)
    Full fathom five thy father lies;
    Five whole fathoms down your father lies;
    Of his bones are coral made;
    His bones are made of coral;

    Could somebody explain how is it grammatically possible that "Of his bones are coral made;" should mean "His bones are made of coral;" ?
    To me the original sounds to mean "coral (is it a plural noun, by the way?) are made of his bones".
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Florentia52

    Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    It means his bones became coral: coral is made of his bones. We don’t use “coral” as a plural noun, but Shakespeare was writing more than 400 years ago and apparently did.
  3. The Newt

    The Newt Senior Member

    USA / EEUU
    English - US
    Shakespeare's use of "are" in that line has apparently been the subject of much discussion by commentators over the centuries. To our ears it does sound odd.
  4. dojibear

    dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    I agree with OP. I don't think "His bones are made of coral" is an accurate translation. I think "Coral is made from his bones" is the meaning.
  5. nkaper

    nkaper Senior Member

    The source I copied the text from is a compilation of all Shakespeare's works in the original and plain texts, it is nowhere on the internet so I gave a link to just the original.
    Thanks to all for the replies. I see that texts in plain versions are not always correct.
  6. AnythingGoes Senior Member

    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    The "plain versions" you've found are someone's translations into modern English. There's no way to know how accurate they are without knowing the translators' credentials.
  7. Chasint Senior Member

    English - England
    When I first read it (without thinking about it), I read those two sentences as equivalent. Only after thinking did I see a problem.

    For me it's a simple reordering:

    Of (his bones are) coral made. ---> His bones are of coral made.
  8. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I think it's wrong, too. The coral eats at his bones and uses those resources to grow itself.

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