Did you miss Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day on January 24th? Do you need to recapture the fun you had on International Talk Like William Shatner Day on March 22nd? Rejoice! Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day, begun 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.
In 2016, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed this day Talk Like Shakespeare Day in honor of Shakespeare400, a yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. He prescribed 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…”
Thy food is such as hath been belch’d upon by infected lungs.
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.
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.
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! And don’t forget to save some energy for International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th. Then cleanse your palate with National Gibberish Day on September 20th.