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April 23 is Talk Like Shakespeare Day

talk like shakespeare day

Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day, started in 2009 by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater to celebrate the Bard’s birthday.

Church records confirm that William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564. Since this was typically performed three days after birth, it’s believed he was born on April 23, 1564. He died on April 23, 1616, according to the Julian calendar in use at that time. Many sources report his birth in the Julian but his death in the Gregorian calendar, which would make it May 3, 1616.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel declared today Talk Like Shakespeare Day in honor of Shakespeare400, a yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. He prescribes a lot of thees and thous. But if we truly want to talk like Shakespeare, wouldn’t it be helpful to hear how a gentleman born in Stratford-upon-Avon would have spoken?

According to scholar John Barton, Shakespeare’s accent would sound to us like a blend of modern Irish, Yorkshire and West Country English accents. Recordings compiled by National Public Radio feature pieces performed as Shakespeare probably heard them.

Here’s a recitation of one of his most popular sonnets: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment…”

If you’d rather celebrate the holiday without having to hire a dialect coach, just memorize a few of the greatest insults Shakespeare ever wrote. Here are nine of our favorites:

Thy food is such as hath been belch’d upon by infected lungs.
Pericles

Would the fountain of your mind were clear again, that I might water an ass at it.
Troilus and Cressida

If you spend word for word with me, I shall make your wit bankrupt.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona

I find the ass in compound with the major part of your syllables.
Coriolanus

Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!
Henry IV, part I

Your bedded hair, like life in excrements, start up and stand on end.
Hamlet

Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.
All’s Well That Ends Well

Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose stands.
All’s Well That Ends Well

Come, come, you talk greasily; your lips grow foul.
Love’s Labour’s Lost

Want more? Use CNN’s Shakespeare Insult-o-Meter to choose the gender of your intended victim, select the severity of invective you desire and let the generator do the rest.

Happy Talk Like Shakespeare Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 1 is First Day of Shakespeare400

shakespeare400Shakespeare400 is an umbrella term for dozens of events in the United Kingdom scheduled throughout 2016 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and his (mostly) posthumous effect on world culture.

The year’s activities will highlight the many art forms the Bard has influenced by sponsoring theatre, music, opera, dance and educational programs to reach new audiences outside the limiting “heritage industry framework” organizers say is too often imposed on Shakespeare.

It would seem to us that Shakespeare might find the derogatory talk of “heritage industry” to be a fusty nut with no kernel. He is arguably the most famous playwright in the world. His work has entertained us for more than 400 years. There would be no quaternary honor of William Shakespeare if he needed the marketing efforts of the organizers to “get his name out.”

May we suggest to the organizers–in their zeal to reach new audiences–something that young and old alike will enjoy? Why not have the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) mount a production of the Klingon translation of Hamlet? The Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project (KSRP) was created in 1995 by the nonprofit Klingon Language Institute (KLI).

KSRP took its inspiratioshakespeare400n from two Klingon characters in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. General Chang barks, “To be or not to be?” (taH pagh taHbe’). Chancellor Gorkon says, “You haven’t experienced Shakespeare until you’ve read it in the original Klingon.”

The “restored” texts of  Hamlet (Hamlet) and Much Ado about Nothing (paghmo’ tIn mIS–lit. the confusion is great because of nothing) have been published. Midsummer Night’s Dream (bov tuj botlh naj) has been completed but not yet released.

So what do you say, Shakespeare400 organizers? According to the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, there are more than 80 spellings of his name. There is no evidence he ever spelled it “Shakespeare.” Why not add one more to the mix:  Wil’yam Sheq’spir?