It isn’t only in 2016 that famous people have been dying. Four hundred years ago today, William Shakespeare shuffled off his mortal coil. I’m not sure that artists as influential as Prince or Bowie – or as loud as Lemmy – will prove to have such a lasting cultural impact.
Over breakfast, I tried the ‘Bard or Bible‘ quiz on the BBC website. Both Shakespeare and the King James Bible (1611) have made a significant contribution to the English language contributing numerous well-known phrases. The challenge was to pick which of the two sources each of nine different quotes came from.
“Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Bible – Ecclesiastes 1:1 and throughout that book) wasn’t one of them but I was delighted at managing to get all of them correct. I have to confess that this success relied on a degree of luck and another measure of informed guesswork alongside the ones that I was certain of; there was every chance that my pride could have fallen with my fortunes (Bard – As You Like It 1.2.242).
Give it a try – even if you don’t get the top score, for fluent English speakers, are there any of those phrases you’ve never heard before? That’s lasting influence.