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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Do a Little Shakespeare!

(CNN) Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, Illinois, has declared Thursday as "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" to celebrate the 445th birthday of the man many consider the greatest playwright in the English language. The bard's actual birth date is not known for sure, many scholars think it was April 23, 1564.
Daley encouraged city residents to "screw their courage to the sticking place and celebrate Shakespeare by vocal acclamation of his words."
So, CNN.com has issued the challenge for the rest of the country to play along and talk like William Shakespeare. It's all in good fun and not too difficult to play along. After all, Shakespeare single-handedly contributed more than 1,700 words and phrases to the English language -- everything from "foul play" to "monumental" to, of course, "all's well that ends well."
I encourage all readers to write their best Shakespearean talk and share here on the blog. Let others see your very own tribute to the king of the English playwrights. Who knows, the exercise may encourage you to share the activity with your friends so that more people may have the opportunity to play with the language. Also, this sounds like a great opportunity for you teachers to incorporate a little fun and English history in their lesson plans.
The unique blend of 16th Century language and 21st Century technology should stimulate the creative juices as well as illustrate the positive power of the Internet. You may find this exercise to be one of your first experiences with Shakespeare. Certainly, the exposure will provide some appreciation of his contributions to the English language. Few others can compare.
Go to talklikeshakespeare.org -- a Web site that the Chicago Shakespeare Theater unveiled Monday. There visitors can share their "Shakespeariences" -- their first memory of Shakespeare or their favorite quotes; subscribe to a Twitter feed where the Bard of Avon will generously translate your 21st-century English into its 16th-century equivalent; or listen to the Q Brothers singing about the finer points of speaking Shakespearean. Did we mention it's a rap song?
The Web site also offers 10 quick pointers on how to talk like Bill. A sampling:
(1) Don't waste time saying "it." Just use the letter "t" ('tis, 'twill, I'll do't).
(2) To add weight to your opinions, try starting them with "methinks," "mayhaps," "in sooth" or "wherefore."
(3) When in doubt, add the letters "eth" to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).
(4) Finally, if you're inclined to yell at the driver who cuts you off as you head to work, why settle for "idiot," when "thou rank white-livered canker-blossom" is so much more satisfying.
You can also consult the random Shakespearean insult generator on the British site william-shakespeare.org.uk. "Thou vain fly-bitten moldwarp!" Now, begin writing. I'm giveng rhymed couplets a shot with the following:
"Me thinks thou findeth great favor
If bard Shakespeare ye doth savor.
Twill give thou verse much fine air
To proclaim, "Fair is foul and foul is fair!"
So, be tardy not good cousin
Tis nothing become of nothing.
Be great in act as ye have been in thought.
Trust the muse if words flow from keyboards not.
For we are such stuff as dreams are made on
In sooth, soon waking visions twill be gone."
Now, be gone, thou tongueless shag-haired incontinent varlet! (Sorry, the Shakespeare in me doth leaketh out.)
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