Shakespeare: Still viral after all these years


A little sketch in her notebook, an off-the-top-of-her-head list of common phrases.  Common today, but originating with William Shakespeare.

Becky's tumblr image:  Things we say that we owe to Shakepspeare

Becky's quick summary of some of the best-known phrases we use everyday, invented by Shakespeare. From Becky, age 20, in London.

Becky’s quick work caught a lot of eyes.  One of NPR’s blogs brought it to my attention.  English teachers, take notice (maybe someone at your school has a large format printer, and can make for you a poster . . .)

Someone could write a book explaining the original Shakespeare meaning of these phrases, the play, the context, and the value in the story. (Perhaps it’s already been done.)  It’s really quite stunning to consider how many phrases trace back to the Bard — surely he did not originate each and every one.  But Shakespeare’s works are rivaled perhaps only by scriptures in producing so many common phrases and aphorisms.

Is this graphic design of a sort that would meet with approval from Edward Tufte and his followers?

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2 Responses to Shakespeare: Still viral after all these years

  1. W. Benson says:

    From Michael Quinion at “World Wide Words” regarding “Bated [as in abated] Breath”:
    “Shakespeare is the first writer known to use it, in The Merchant of Venice, in which Shylock says to Antonio: “Shall I bend low and, in a bondman’s key, / With bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness, / Say this …”. Nearly three centuries later, Mark Twain employed it in Tom Sawyer: “Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale”.”
    A cat who eats cheese might be said to have “baited” breath.

    Like this

  2. Eric Koenig says:

    Last year when Connie and I were attending Creation Entertainment’s Star Trek Convention in Chicago, actors Marc Alaimo, Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs gave stagings of a number of scenes from Shakespeare. They rounded it off by reciting a number of phrases, saying, “When you say …” and after giving out several phrases, ” … you’re quoting Shakespeare!” and on and on. It was quite illuminating.

    Like this

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