9 facts that will change the way you think about Shakespeare
The Globe Theater specializes in performing Shakespearian plays in their original pronunciation (OP). Although they opened in 1994, it took a while for them to mount these plays because they thought people wouldn't understand 400-year-old accents. However, after they performed Romeo and Juliet in OP, they became quite popular and they haven't looked back.
How did they revive a 400-year-old English accent? First, they looked at contemporary writing. Reviews and other writings about Shakespeare's plays would comment and make observations on how certain words rhymed and played together. The second is through spelling. Finally, there are rhymes and puns that don't work in our modern English, but do in Old English. The pronunciation itself reveals jokes and messages that are hidden to us now! If you want to learn some of them, check the source below.
The technical term is “maternal insult,” but we know them as “yo momma jokes.” The joke is meant to insult a person by way of their mother. It is a globally offensive joke. In many countries, it isn’t a joke at all. The only time it is used is to really insult and offend someone or cause a fight.
It is really common to make the maternal insult be about the promiscuity of the mother. Using this type of insult is especially likely to invoke violence. The jokes or insults can be based on race, age, obesity, or other forms of insult. The maternal insult isn’t a new thing, though. Shakespeare was using it in his plays back in the 1500s and 1600s.
He uses it in Timons of Athens and in Titus Andronicus. Here is an excerpt from Timon of Athens: Painter: “Y’are a dog. Apemantus: “Thy mother’s of my generation. What’s she, if I be a dog?”
In fact, the popular word to describe something in a bragging manner has its first written use in the 1596 play A Midsummer Night’s Dream! The quote of the original usage is as follows from character, Puck: “What hempen homespuns have we swaggering here?”
There are even earlier occurrences that may have to do with the word dating back farther before Shakespeare to the 1300s! But what can you do with this newfound knowledge? The next time your English teacher complains on how kids speak to one another, you can give that teacher a lesson on the history and evolution on this word we use so commonly today!
William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died on the same date, but not the same day.
April 23 is regarded as World Book Day, marking the anniversary of the deaths of two literary giants, English playwright William Shakespeare and Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes. Both men died on April 23, 1616, but they did not really die on the same day. Cervantes’ death date is based on the modern Gregorian calendar, while Shakespeare’s is based on the old Julian calendar that was still being used in England at the time. If he used the Gregorian calendar, Shakespeare would have died in May.
William Wordsworth also died on April 23, though it was many years later in 1850.
William Shakespeare composed a curse for his tombstone.
Good friend for Jesus sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here!
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.
Translation: \"Leave my body alone!\"
In William Shakespeare’s time, the word “nothing” was slang for vagina.
The reason for this strange nickname is because this part of the female sexual organ is round like a zero (0). Other fun Elizabethan terms included: “thing” for penis, “merry” when someone was sexually aroused, and “country matters,” which referred to matters pertaining to a women’s genitals. Something that the unacquainted may miss about Shakespeare is that his plays were often full of dirty jokes, using now-outdated slang, or simply jump making up his own words. The folks at Cracked have even suggested that he would make a great Cracked writer if he were alive today.
This movie is just chock full of references to the play, too! The teens' school is called Illyria, which is the name of the country the play is set in. On Viola's first day at Illyria, she walks by a sign for a school play entitled "What You Will," which is the alternate title for "Twelfth Night." Duke Orsino is based on the character of Orsino, a duke. Duke's friends Toby and Andrew are friends of Orsino in the play and Malcolm is based on Malvolio, which happens to be the name of Malcolm's pet tarantula!