Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Merchant of Venice. Everyone has heard of the name Shakespeare, or at least some of his most famous works. Even with a limited knowledge of the Bard, it is well known that the English used in his works differs from the English that we use nowadays.
In this week’s Video Fix, we look at some historical facts and events that shed more light on to how Shakespeare’s English sounded like.
Shakespeare’s English is in fact not ‘Old English’ as many refer to it, but rather, ‘Early Modern English’.
When all the elements are taken into account, it would then be easier to identify certain rhymes, puns and accents that would otherwise be left hidden, if the present pronunciation were used. a perfect example of this is Shakespeare’s own tombstone, with rhymes that would be lost if the modern pronunciation is used. In fact, 96 of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets have lines that don’t rhyme.
- ‘What Shakespeare sounded like’, NativLang, available here [Accessed on 07/07/2018]
- ‘William Shakespeare’, Wikipedia, available here [Accessed on 07/07/2019]
Written by Veronica Lynn Mizzi : Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg). Graduate in the Maltese Language and Communication, and Master’s graduate in Translation and Terminology Studies from the University of Malta. Former journalist.