Talk Like Shakespeare Day Is Just What It Sounds Like

What would happen if we all spoke the way Shakespeare wrote? Would we fall in love more deeply and seek revenge more swiftly? Today just might be the day to find out. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially named this 448th birthday of Shakespeare, April 23, 2012, "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" (it's not the first time) in conjunction with Chicago's Shakespeare Theater, reminding us of The Bard's contribution of more than 1,700 words and phrases to the English language, "including but not limited to 'lackluster,' 'eyeball' and brevity is the soul of wit.'"

How does one begin apeing The Bard himself? Fear thee not! There are a handy set of guidelines for Talk Like Shakespeare day that go as follows (more detailed instructions here):

  • Instead of you, say thou or thee (and instead of y’all, say ye).
  • Rhymed couplets are all the rage.
  • Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.
  • Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads.
  • Don’t waste time saying "it," just use the letter "t" (’tis,t’will, I’ll do’t).
  • Verse for lovers, prose for ruffians, songs for clowns.
  • When in doubt, add the letters "eth" to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).
  • To add weight to your opinions, try starting them withmethinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.
  • When wooing ladies: try comparing her to a summer’s day. If that fails, say "Get thee to a nunnery!"
  • When wooing lads: try dressing up like a man. If that fails, throw him in the Tower, banish his friends and claim the throne.

A number of comedians have filmed videos for the occasion, to show you how it's done if you still need a little guidance (vote for your favorite here).

The idea is catching on well outside of Chicago. According to Broadway World, celebrations have been planned as far away as Armenia, where a movement is underway for the inclusion of "Shakespearean" as an official language option on Facebook, alongside "Pirate."

WATCH Bleeting Heart Production's film for Talk Like Shakespeare Day, on the dangers of Shakespeare:

Check out where Shakespeare's been in the news of late:

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Popular in the Community