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Shakespeare IS the English Language myth (part 2)

What Jonathan Culpeper returns to the myth that Shakespeare's language is the English language.

Again, we examined the myth that Shakespeare’s language is the English language, but this time we are looking at particular expressions. More specifically, four expressions are examined: “Sea change” from The Tempest; “Brave New World” from The Tempest again; “band of brothers”, from Henry V; and “salad days” from Antony and Cleopatra.

The tool used to explore these expressions is Google’s N-Gram Viewer, which you can find for yourself if you search on the Internet (use is free). This interface interrogates the Google Books repository of printed works (about 361 billion words of English).

As discussed in the video-talk, the rise and falls of each of these expressions can be explained by the advent of particular events (e.g. the sudden rise of “band of brothers” around 1800 seems to have been motivated by Admiral Nelson’s use).

At the end of the talk, there is brief consideration of whether people today actually know that these expressions come from Shakespeare. Generally speaking, they don’t!

Feel free to have a go with Google’s N-Gram Viewer yourselves, perhaps for other expressions. Put any points of interest in the comments.

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Shakespeare's Language: Revealing Meanings and Exploring Myths

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