“This above all: to thine ownself be true.
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
April 23, 2019 is renowned poet William Shakespeare’s 455th birthday — but since his birthdate is uncertain, some also believe it’s the day he died. Either way, to celebrate, the world has dubbed April 23 as “Talk Like Shakespeare Day.”
So you probably know the basics: “you” is “thou” or “thee” and “it is” is “‘tis.”
But did you know that when wooing ladies, ‘tis always common practice to compare them to a summer’s day?
Okay. Of course you did. Everybody knows that.
Speaking Elizabethan is not an easy task unless you are an old English literature pro — and the truth is that although we might love reading and writing, not all of us are familiar with Shakespeare’s language.
Here are a few quick tips to talking like Shakespeare on this April 23.
Read His Work
This is obvious, right? You’ve probably read Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, and Julius Caesar sometime in high school or college. Maybe you don’t remember the dialogue word-for-word, but you certainly remember the poetic duality of his narratives.
(There are many versions of Shakespeare’s plays that have modern English translations beside it, which means you could translate each sentence. Win-win.)
Also take a look at his poetry. His poems — like many poets’ works — were meant to be read and pronounced certain ways. A good place to start is to listen to a live reading of any of his popular poems or sonnets.
Watch The Movies
Many of Shakespeare’s plays have been turned into movies.
Fun fact: Drew Barrymore’s grandfather was in Hamlet (1922).
If you’re not really into the classics, then check out some modern remakes of the plays, like Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo + Juliet.
Either way, watching these movies are like a roller-coaster ride — after all, that’s why Shakespeare was the master of "dramedy."
(If these really aren’t your style, you can also check out 10 Things I Hate About You, which is an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew — but everybody speaks modern English in it. There are plenty more where that came from, like O and West Side Story. Here’s a longer list of some Shakespeare adaptations.)
Learn Basic Words
Another obvious one, but probably the most fun way to learn.
Make Verbs More “Shakespearean”
Instead of: “He is running late!”
Try: “He runneth behind!”
It’s always fun and creative to add -eth to the end of a verb.
If you’ve ever been to a renaissance faire or festival, most of the workers there will dazzle each sentence with a few “-eths.”
The point of “Talk Like Shakespeare Day” is to certainly spread the joy that comes with his works, but it’s also to have fun.
Try to have an entire conversation in Shakespearean. Quiz your friends or family on the right verbage or learn some fun insults like “canker-blossoms.”
And who knows, you might be correct!
Or should I say, “perchance you doth prevail!”