Cover of William Shakespeare
Writer Greg Hill recently wrote about Shakespeare and was reminded by his former high school teacher that "honorificabilitudinitatibus" was the longest word the Bard of Avon used. According to Wikipedia the word's "the ablative plural of the medieval Latin word 'honorificabilitudinitas,' which can be translated as 'the state of being able to achieve honour.'" It was in use centuries before Shakespeare. Since it sounds pure Latin, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Still, not the sort of word one imagines trips off the tongue at Mrs. Miggins’s pie-shop over a few pints.
And apparently the second longest word, ever, was a 183-character transliteration of a term created by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes to describe a fricassee that included blackbird, sea-hare, laserwort, rotted dogfish, and roasted head of dabchick (not related to boychiks, I hope). Which of course, begs the question, why did an obviously odious sounding dish need 183 characters, when surely, certain four letter words might have sufficed. Am just asking, is all.
Little-known is that Shakespeare’s writing was Modern English, rather than the even older Middle English or Older English. A recent BBC report titled "Bored by the Bard?" says the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is promoting a three-point plan to keep Shakespeare vital to modern youngsters (youffs) by enabling them to act out the plays, to see live performances, and to start doing so as early as possible.
Hill further explains that the RSC doesn't mind a bit of hilarity at the Bard's expense, like British satirist Martin Baum's "To Be or Not to Be, Innit." Baum's book combines British street slang and texting language to paraphrase Shakespeare in terms the younger generations can comprehend. Oh dear. He covers "Macbeff," "Much Ado About Sod All," and "All's Sweet That Ends Sweet, Innit." Jacqui O'Hanlon, the RSC's education director, said "Shakespeare created so many new words; we won't be precious about it." She added, "We know that when young people are introduced to Shakespeare in a positive way, they find real relevance … We want people to have a lifelong association with Shakespeare, so this may help."
Well, I think that Baum missed a few out, according to my list:
Comedy of Errors will now be titled “What a Cock-up.” subtitled “It’s All Gone Pete Tong.”
Offello will play alongside MacBeff
The Merchant of Venice could become “You want how much for a sodding cornetto?”
As You Like It will just be “Whatever.”
All’s Well that Ends Well will become “Simples, End Of.”
The Henry plays will be renamed Henry 1, in 6 tweets. Life’s too short to sit through all that crap!
Which brings me to the only Shakespeare joke I know. No surprise there, I studied Shakespeare at grammar school and I can tell you it was no joke! A chap walks out of the theater after seeing Hamlet for the first time. “I don’t know why everybody thinks Hamlet is such a well-written play,” he says, “it’s full of clichés”.
I know, I should be on the stage…too bad it left an hour ago!