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Katch Up on Shakespeare's Enduring Legacy this English Language Day: From Quill to Screen

by Paudie Marum | 22nd April 2024 | Communication,Marketing
Portrait of William Shakespeare

Over the years, the English language has continuously developed to where it is today, with one man, William Shakespeare, having possibly the most profound effect on the way we look at the language to this day

In honour of English Language Day, which has been celebrated annually on April 23rd since it was first introduced in 2010, we want to take you on a journey through the depths of language and analyse the impact that the great William Shakespeare has had on the English we know and love today. April 23rd marks a significant date for literature enthusiasts worldwide. Not only is it the day William Shakespeare graced the world with his presence in 1564, but it's also the day he took his final bow in 1616.

Coincidentally, April 23rd also commemorates English Language Day, a fitting tribute to the playwright whose words have shaped the English language like no other. When studying English, it is impossible to overlook the profound impact that William Shakespeare has had on the English language, from the multiple phrases he coined to his enduring themes and his influence on modern storytelling, his influence resonates from stage to screen and everywhere in between.

Shakespeare & Co.

The Value of Communication:

At its core, English Language Day celebrates the power of communication to bridge divides and foster understanding. English, as a global lingua franca, meaning a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different, serves as a conduit for cultural exchange and collaboration on a global scale. Its widespread use facilitates international dialogue, enabling individuals from diverse backgrounds to connect, collaborate, and share ideas. In an increasingly interconnected world, proficiency in English opens doors to opportunities, empowering individuals to navigate the complexities of the modern landscape.

Shakespeare's Linguistic Contributions

Shakespeare's pen wasn't just a tool for storytelling; it was a forge for the English language itself. Through his plays and sonnets, Shakespeare breathed life into the English lexicon, introducing over 1,700 words and countless phrases into the vernacular. Words like “bedazzled,” “eyeball,” “addiction,” “lonely,” “radiance,” and “swagger” were all down to Shakespeare's linguistic inventiveness. The depths of his creativity seemed to know no bounds and it continues to astonish readers and enrich the language to this day.

Pile of books

Shakespeare’s famous lines, such as “All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts,” resonate with a profundity that extends far beyond the boundaries of his theatrical productions. This particular quote, from “As You Like It,” serves as a poignant reflection on the human experience, encapsulating the idea that life itself is akin to a grand performance, with each individual playing various roles throughout their journey.

It speaks to the universal truth of the human condition, inviting contemplation on the transient nature of existence and the interconnectedness of all individuals on the world's vast stage. Shakespeare's ability to distil complex emotions and philosophical concepts into concise and evocative language showcases his true genius, ensuring that his words are enduring symbols of wisdom and insight in the collective consciousness of English speakers.

Similarly, the existential pondering of Hamlet's soliloquy, “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” from the play of the same name, remains a timeless exploration of life's uncertainties and the complexities of decision-making. Shakespeare’s succinct assertion that “brevity is the soul of wit,” also a famous line of the doomed Danish prince, not only encapsulates the essence of effective communication but also serves as a reminder of the power of concise expression in conveying profound truths.


Themes That Transcend Time

Beyond his linguistic contributions, Shakespeare's themes resonate across centuries. His exploration of human nature, love, jealousy, ambition, and betrayal are as relevant today as they were in the Elizabethan era. The timeless dilemmas posed in works like “Hamlet” and Macbeth” continue to captivate audiences and inspire adaptations across various mediums.

His influence extends far beyond the stage as countless films have drawn inspiration from his works, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. One of the more famous examples comes from Disney's “The Lion King,” which is a modern retelling of “Hamlet,” featuring themes of family, betrayal, and redemption set against the backdrop of the African savanna. Many more modern works also achieve this, such as the likes of “10 Things I Hate About You,” which puts a contemporary spin on “The Taming of the Shrew,” while the likes of “West Side Story” reimagines “Romeo and Juliet” in the streets of 1950s New York City.

Lion King

William Shakespeare's impact on the English language and global culture cannot be overstated. His words continue to echo through time, shaping how we express ourselves and understand the world around us. As we celebrate English Language Day and commemorate the Bard's legacy, let us remember that though he may have lived centuries ago, his influence remains as vibrant and relevant as ever.

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