August 31, 2015

Shakespeare and Language.

Hello lovely readers, when I began this blog, I made my infatuation with renowned playwright, William Shakespeare, patently apparent. I was eight at the time when I discovered a dusty copy of Macbeth. With the first act, I was in love.


"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue." 
– Hamlet to the Players, Act 3, Scene 2.



His themes and tales have heavily influenced my own writing and it is thanks to him that I became a storyteller. If there is one thing that intrigued me about the subject of English and literature is the progression of language from century to century and it got me thinking about just how Shakespeare played a key part in the making of our language.

It wasn’t until 1613 (just three years before the bard’s passing) that the very first dictionary was formed. The pioneers of this creation lay primarily in the rights of Richard Mulcaster and Shakespeare – the latter having manifested many a word; some that are most popular in the present such as “swagger” and “irksome.”

But how much do we owe a debt to the bard and his beautiful twining of words into sentences?

London theatre ticket retailers, Leicester Square Box Office, launched an investigation and encouraged theatre audiences to appreciate and understand the influence that historic theatre has on modern society (500 or so years later)!

Having grown up with Shakespeare’s tales and language, I find it easy to lapse into the predecessor to our current linguistics but even I can’t recall just how much the wordsmith shaped our lexis.

In fact, I took part in Leicester Square Box Office’s How Well Do You Know Your Shakespeare? quiz and found myself struggling with some of the questions. In the survey of over five-hundred, the Leicester Square Box Office revealed that the majority of wrong answers were those given to questions which focused on words and phrases that were coined by Shakespeare but are still used today.

Friend and fellow bard lover, Ben Crystal, remarked that “… every modern spoken English accent is a descendant of Shakespeare’s London accent, so when people go and hear it they tend to say ‘oh, that sounds a bit like where we come from’. They’re hearing the echo or the glimmer of their own accent’s decedent or ancestor. That means that it’s relatable…”

Although, I often have conversations or instigated conversations in the typical Shakespeare drawl, I am definitely more educated and in awe at just how much we are indebted to  Shakespeare for his twisted tales that are so adored in the present day.

So I have one question for you; How well do you know your Shakespeare?

Take the Quiz:


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